9 March 2016 | 7:52 am
Donald J. Trump easily dispatched his Republican rivals in the Michigan and Mississippi presidential primaries Tuesday and won the Hawaii caucuses, regaining momentum in the face of intensifying resistance to his campaign among party leaders.
Senator Bernie Sanders scored an upset win in the Michigan Democratic primary, threatening to prolong a Democratic campaign that Hillary Clinton appeared to have all but locked up last week.
Mrs. Clinton lost badly in Michigan among independents, showed continued weakness with working-class white Democrats, and was unable to count on as much of an advantage with black voters as she had in the South.
Addressing reporters in Miami while the votes in Michigan were still being counted, Mr. Sanders said that his powerful showing indicated that “the political revolution that we’re talking about is strong in every part of the country.”
“And frankly,” he added, “we believe that our strongest areas are yet to happen.”
While bolstering Mr. Sanders’s hand as the race turns to a series of large states next week, his victory in Michigan did not dent Mrs. Clinton’s delegate lead as she won overwhelmingly in Mississippi, crushing Mr. Sanders among African-American voters, and netted more delegates over all.
Senator Ted Cruz of Texas handily won the Idaho Republican primary, somewhat mitigating his second-place finishes in Michigan and Mississippi.
After losing to Senator Ted Cruz on Saturday in Kansas and Maine, Mr. Trump needed one of his best performances of the campaign to tamp down doubts about his candidacy after a week of gaffes, missteps and questions about the strength of his political organization.
And he got one, demonstrating his appeal with working-class white voters in Michigan, a state Mr. Trump has claimed he could win in the general election, while beating back especially stiff challenges from Gov. John Kasich of Ohio there and from Mr. Cruz in Mississippi.
Mr. Trump, plugging several of his business interests in a victory speech that seemed straight out of QVC, crowed about having prevailed despite what he called millions of dollars’ worth of “horrible lies” in negative ads from his rivals.
“There’s only one person who did well tonight: Donald Trump,” he said in Jupiter, Fla., at one of his golf resorts. He also mocked Mr. Cruz. “He’s always saying, ‘I’m the only one that can beat Trump,’ ” Mr. Trump said, imitating his rival, but adding: “He rarely beats me.”
Mrs. Clinton, addressing supporters in Cleveland, did not mention the Mississippi or Michigan results, instead alluding to the vitriol in the Republican field. “As the rhetoric keeps sinking lower, the stakes in this election keep rising higher,” she said. Running for president, she said, “shouldn’t be about delivering insults; it should be about delivering results.”
But none of the major cable news networks carried her remarks, which came as Mr. Trump was speaking.
The emphatic victories by Mr. Trump were a sharp turnabout from his difficult weekend and suggested that his stumbles in recent days had not done substantial damage to his campaign. He continued his dominance among low-income voters in Michigan and Mississippi but, in a foreboding sign for Mr. Cruz, also narrowly won among white evangelicals in both states.
If Tuesday offered a reminder of Mr. Trump’s enduring appeal, it was nothing short of devastating for Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. After slipping to third or fourth place in the states that voted Saturday, Mr. Rubio collapsed on Tuesday, finishing well behind his three rivals in Michigan and Mississippi — he came away with no delegates in either state — and calling into question how much longer he will be able to stay in the race.
Mrs. Clinton’s victory in Mississippi was the latest in a string across the South fueled by her overwhelming black support. But she had hoped that a win in Michigan would demoralize Mr. Sanders heading into the coming Rust Belt primaries and relegate him to a protest candidate rather than a real threat. Instead, Mr. Sanders can march into Illinois, Ohio and Missouri next Tuesday newly emboldened to lash Mrs. Clinton over her past support for free trade agreements, which he says have wiped out thousands of industrial jobs.
Mr. Sanders badly needed a victory heading into Ohio and Illinois next week, and to demonstrate that he is still viable even though he has fallen far behind Mrs. Clinton in the race to amass the 2,323 delegates needed to win the Democratic nomination.
Mr. Sanders’s Michigan triumph also offered much-needed proof that he could win over voters in the populous, racially diverse swing states where the eventual Democratic nominee will need victories in November.
Hillary Clinton was projected to win the state’s primary by a significant margin but found herself in a close race with Senator Bernie Sanders in Michigan.
By REUTERS on Publish Date March 8, 2016.
Photo by Richard Perry/The New York Times.
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Mr. Trump’s clear victories Tuesday, meanwhile, showed that he remains the Republican favorite for the nomination and enjoys a fiercely loyal core of support. His success in Michigan, which he won by 12 percent, was especially striking: not only did he easily carry Macomb County, original home of the fabled Reagan Democrats, he also won the more upscale Detroit suburbs of Oakland County.
But the Republican opposition to his candidacy is just as sturdy, and there are signs that it is widening.
Yet if the anti-Trump forces are to break his grip on the party, their last chance may be next week, when Ohio and Florida vote and Mr. Kasich and Mr. Rubio put their candidacies on the line in their home states. If Mr. Trump does not win those two states, it will be difficult for him, or any other candidate, to capture the nomination before Republicans gather for their convention in Cleveland this July.
The results on Tuesday, including the Republican contests in Idaho and Hawaii, were bound to offer important insights about just how vulnerable Mr. Trump now is — and whether a Republican Party desperate to stop him can push the race to the floor of the party’s convention this summer.
Even before the votes were counted Tuesday, there were new signs that resistance to Mr. Trump’s candidacy within his own party was growing. The number of Republicans viewing him unfavorably spiked to 46 percent in a Washington Post-ABC poll released Tuesday, the highest figure recorded in that survey since Mr. Trump entered the race last year.
He has faced what has effectively been the first sustained assault from his rivals and third-party groups about his business dealings and committed self-inflicted wounds — notably his initial hesitation to disavow the support of a white supremacist figure, David Duke, and his boasting about his sexual endowment at last week’s debate.
“There’s only one person who did well tonight,” Donald J. Trump said on a night with four Republican contests.
By REUTERS on Publish Date March 8, 2016.
Photo by Todd Heisler/The New York Times.
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Mr. Trump, however, was competing on more favorable terms this week. Three of four states voting Tuesday held primaries, rather than caucuses, and the two biggest delegate prizes, Michigan and Mississippi, had open voting, meaning that the Republican contest was not limited only to Republicans.
Mr. Kasich spent much of the last month with Michigan all to himself, as his rivals campaigned elsewhere. And Mr. Rubio’s fade benefited Mr. Kasich in Michigan, as mainstream Republicans there appeared to drift toward the Ohio governor.
There was less campaigning in Mississippi, but Mr. Cruz made a late push there by holding a rally in the Jackson area, and he picked up the endorsement of the state’s governor, Phil Bryant.
Democratic delegates are awarded proportionally based on the candidates’ vote shares, and Democratic-leaning states and areas — like predominantly black cities and towns — tend to have the most delegates up for grabs. Advisers to both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Sanders expected a fairly even split of delegates in Michigan but a big Clinton haul in Mississippi, which would expand the significant lead that Mrs. Clinton already had over Mr. Sanders.
Mrs. Clinton’s advisers said that she would net more delegates than Mr. Sanders next Tuesday if she wins Florida and North Carolina but narrowly loses elsewhere, because her victories in predominantly black and Hispanic areas of the two states would probably yield disproportionately large numbers of delegates.
“I’ve always said the currency of the nomination is delegates,” said Joel Benenson, Mrs. Clinton’s top strategist, after Michigan was called for Mr. Sanders. “It seems clear we will add to our pledged delegate lead by a dozen delegates or more. At the end of the night, you’ve had a good night when you win more delegates than your opponent, and Senator Sanders didn’t.”
Mr. Benenson disputed the idea that the Michigan victory was a good sign for Mr. Sanders in Ohio and Illinois, saying there were no guarantees that young people — whom Mr. Sanders won by a stunning 63 percentage points in Michigan — would turn out in such droves in those states.
“You need to put together a different coalition of voters in each state, and Senator Sanders is still having difficulty persuading different groups vital to the Democratic coalition,” Mr. Benenson said.
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