Cruz wins two states in setback for Donald Trump

In the Democratic race, Bernie Sanders wins two states to Hillary Clinton’s one while in the Republican race, Ted Cruz splits victories in four nominating contests with front-runner Donald Trump

US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump
US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump

Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz split victories in four nominating contests with front-runner Donald Trump on Saturday, bolstering Cruz’s argument that he is the best alterative for those bent on stopping the New York billionaire.

In the Democratic race, front-runner Hillary Clinton won in Louisiana, while her rival Bernie Sanders, a US Senator from Vermont, won in Kansas and Nebraska, in results that did not substantially change Clinton’s big delegate lead.

Five states were holding nominating contests on Super Saturday as Trump and Clinton looked to strengthen their leads in the battle to pick nominees for the November 8 presidential election to succeed President Barack Obama.

Trump won in Louisiana and Kentucky, while Ted Cruz won heavily in the Republican caucus in Kansas and won by a similar margin in Maine.

With 47 delegates up for grabs, Louisiana was the biggest prize of the night and the only state using a primary rather than caucus system. Trump has tended to do better in primaries, where his support among first-time voters and independents can overwhelm the more determined activists who back Cruz.

Trump’s victories – by 4.4% in Louisiana and 3.6% in Kentucky – were by smaller margins than Cruz won his states, meaning the Texan took more delegates on the night. The results suggested neither may reach the 1,237 delegates needed to win the Republican nomination outright.

The results were bad news for the remaining two Republican candidates, Marco Rubio, a US senator from Florida, and Ohio Governor John Kasich, who trailed in all four contests.

“Marco Rubio had a very, very bad night,” Trump said. ‘I think it’s time he drops out of the race.”

Since winning seven of 11 contests on Super Tuesday, Trump has come under withering fire from a Republican establishment worried he will lead the party to a resounding defeat in November's election.

Mainstream Republicans have blanched at Trump's calls to build a wall on the border with Mexico, round up and deport 11 million undocumented migrants and temporarily bar all Muslims from entering the US.

In the overall race for Republican delegates, Trump leads with at least 375 and Cruz has at least 291. Rubio has 123 delegates and Kasich has 33. It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination for president.

Saturday's contests were the first since retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson dropped from the race, after polling in the single-digits in most of the nominating contests. Carson had drawn support from evangelical voters, a group that has also been a stronghold of Cruz.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton lost Kansas and Nebraska to a resurgent Sanders campaign, although her own win in Louisiana, as expected, left her well ahead in net delegates at the end of the night.

The next big contest, and a crucial one, will be Tuesday's primary in the industrial state of Michigan. Republicans in three other states, Mississippi, Idaho and Hawaii, also will vote on Tuesday. Puerto Rico Republicans will vote on Sunday.

More in World