Live Blog

Three Western States Split Their Support

Clinton and Trump grabbed Arizona, Tuesday’s biggest prize, but Sanders and Cruz claimed impressive wins of their own.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were the early winners on Tuesday night as voters in a trio of Western states cast their ballots in primaries and caucuses. Both presidential front-runners easily carried Arizona, padding their delegate leads by claiming the biggest prize of the night. Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders fared better in the Utah caucuses, yet victories there (and in Idaho for Sanders) are unlikely to change the trajectory of a race that now heavily favors both Trump and Clinton. On the Republican side, Trump benefitted from a strong turnout of supporters in the nearly four weeks of early voting. When the first returns came in, he had 46 percent of the vote, more than twice the total of Cruz, who appeared to be hurt by the fact that Marco Rubio picked up more than 50,000 votes before he withdrew from the race a week ago.

Trump took all of Arizona’s 58 delegates.

Clinton had 57.8 percent to 40 percent for Sanders with 94 percent of precincts reporting in Arizona. The result, which came despite an aggressive late push from the Vermont senator, further solidified a delegate lead that appears nearly impossible for Sanders to overcome. High turnout was reported among Democrats in all three states, with voters waiting hours in line in a few locations and some complaining that officials had not opened enough caucus sites or polling places.

Even after Arizona was called for Clinton, Sanders urged voters to stay in line, hoping to narrow the delegate gap in a state in which Democrats award them proportionally. In fact, Clinton’s Arizona margin narrowed as the night wore on—and Sanders’s dominating performances in Utah and Idaho allowed him to claim the majority of delegates who were up for grabs on Tuesday.

The primaries played out as the candidates responded to the deadly terrorist attacks in Brussels, and Clinton quickly pivoted to national security during her election-night remarks in Seattle. “The last thing we need, my friends, are leaders who incite more fear,” she said after calling our Trump and Cruz by name. “This is a time for America to lead, not cower.”

Russell Berman

Updates

This live blog has concluded

By the time Hillary Clinton addressed supporters from a Seattle high school gym early Wednesday morning, her win in Arizona already seemed like a footnote. Clinton had taken 60 percent of the roughly 70 percent of votes reported so far, but it was clear she had her mind on upcoming primaries and the general election.
It took her several minutes to even mention Arizona—one of three Democratic contests Tuesday—and when she did, it was within the context of the campaign's next steps.    

"It's exciting to see that result come in because Arizona—like Washington, like a lot of the states that are going to be expressing their views and counting their votes in the weeks ahead—understand[s] that this is not just a contest between different candidates," Clinton said. "This is a contest between fundamentally different views of our country, our values, and our future."

Those differences she emphasized, though, aren't between her and primary opponent Bernie Sanders. Rather, they're between the former secretary of state and the Republicans she could face in the general election. Pivoting to the terrorist attacks in Brussels, Clinton said the day's events remind the country of "how high the stakes are," and she specifically called out Ted Cruz and Donald Trump for suggesting "wrong" and "dangerous" anti-terror policies.
"I want you to think about the next president, whoever it is, walking into the White House," Clinton started to say mid-speech, before she was interrupted by affirming shouts in the audience that it should be her. In agreement, she offered an impromptu line with a laugh that sums up her confidence tonight: "I do believe I am the most ready of anybody running to take that job."

Speaking to supporters in San Diego, Bernie Sanders seemed unfazed, despite the fact that media outlets had called the Arizona Democratic primary for his rival Hillary Clinton. Sanders chose to recall happier times, reminding his adoring fans of the wins his campaign has racked up so far during the primary election, and predicting future success. “Unless I’m very mistaken, we’re gonna win a couple more tonight,” he said to cheers and applause.

Critics of the self-described Democratic socialist candidate have called him evasive on foreign policy, but Sanders took the occasion to speak about the Brussels attacks, expressing sympathy for the victims. He went on to promise that the U.S. can defeat ISIS without becoming entangled in endless war. “We can win that war and destroy ISIS without getting the brave men and women in the U.S. armed forces into a perpetual war in the Middle East,” Sanders said, calling the Iraq War “one of the worst foreign-policy mistakes in the history of this country” and reminding the crowd that he voted against it.

Sanders could still pull out wins later tonight in Idaho and Utah, but his defeat in Arizona is quite a blow. He has fallen far behind Clinton in the delegate race, and his path to victory for the Democratic nomination looks increasingly out of reach. For all that, Sanders appears unwilling to be deterred. Before departing the stage, Sanders optimistically declared that he expects to win California—that is, if voter turnout is high.

Sanders mentions a Medicare-for-all solution for high drug prices, but as I have noted, one of the biggest problems with Medicare is high drug prices. Beyond vague calls for price negotiation, no candidate has really put together a plan for slowing drug-price increases.

Interesting bit here. People are still waiting in line in Arizona precincts to vote, even after most outlets have called both parties' races in the state. Voters could certainly make more of a difference in the Democratic contest with its proportional delegate system, but in the Republican winner-take-all primary, there's not much left to fight for.  What's a voter to do if the race has already been deemed statistically over? Should states wait to start tallying votes until everyone has had a chance?

Unlike Trump's winner-take-all victory in Arizona, the 75 delegates up for grabs in Arizona's Democratic primary are awarded proportionally. That means that Sanders can still hope to walk away from the state with more delegates, if he can  narrow Clinton’s margin of victory. His campaign tweeted a few minutes ago “If you're in Arizona, make sure to stay in line. Every vote counts.”

The Associated Press has called the Democratic primary in Arizona for Hillary Clinton. That's bad news for Bernie Sanders who had been telling crowds of supporters in the state that he thought he could win if turnout was high. Arizona has a more diverse electorate than Idaho and Utah, and Sanders's inability to win there calls into question again his ability to prevail in states that lack largely white electorates. Meanwhile, Clinton's victory will add to her already commanding delegate lead over her rival.

The early voting results on the Republican side in Arizona show Donald Trump with a big lead, as expected, and the Associated Press has called the state for the businessman. He has 45 percent of the vote to 20 percent for Ted Cruz and just under 11 percent for John Kasich. But they also highlight the potential pitfalls of early voting in presidential primaries, at topic I wrote about a couple weeks ago after the Louisiana primary. Voters in Arizona could cast their ballots nearly a month ahead of time, and Marco Rubio picked up 20 percent of the early vote despite dropping out a week ago. Trump may end up winning by more than that margin, but the race could look a lot different without the more than 50,000 votes that Rubio secured weeks ago.

The first votes are being tallied in Arizona, and they offer bad news for Bernie Sanders. With more than 40 percent of precincts reporting, Hillary Clinton has some 61 percent of the vote, and Sanders just 36 percent. The state has 85 delegates—more than Utah and Idaho combined. And if Clinton can maintain her current margin, Sanders could win two of the three contests tonight, and still find himself trailing by an even wider margin in the pledged-delegate tally.

Beyond the political theater of the Cruz-Trump Twitter war that David mentioned, the ad was an interesting, if totally sexist and uncreative, political play for a Super PAC to make. It's a bet that the voters in Utah, and specifically the female voters who were targeted by the ad, might make a last-minute choice based on distaste or a sense of propriety. It's a bet on style over substance—which is to say, it's not a confident bet in Mormon voters at all.

The LDS Church does encourage its members to be modest: "We seek to “glorify God in our body, and in our spirit," its website says. This includes guidelines on appropriate clothing:

Central to the command to be modest is an understanding of the sacred power of procreation, the ability to bring children into the world. This power is to be used only between husband and wife. Revealing and sexually suggestive clothing, which includes short shorts and skirts, tight clothing, and shirts that do not cover the stomach, can stimulate desires and actions that violate the Lord's law of chastity.

Here's the test the Church lays out for what is and isn't modest:

If we are unsure about whether our dress or grooming is modest, we should ask ourselves, “Would I feel comfortable with my appearance if I were in the Lord's presence?”

I guess that's between Melania and the Lord. Anyways, none of it matters, probably: Mormons generally hate Trump. Jack Jenkins wrote a smart piece on that topic for us earlier today, which you can read here.

A few hours ago we noted the anti-Trump ad circulating in Utah, featuring an, um, casually dressed Melania Trump. Around 10 p.m. eastern, as the political world waited for late results from the West Coast, the GOP front-runner weighed in:

Actually, that’s his second tweet on the subject. The first used Senator Ted Cruz’s Twitter handle, rather than his Trump-assigned handle of “Lyin’ Ted.” It was deleted after seven seconds, leading to fevered speculation about whether perhaps Trump had finally found shame. But no—he was just making sure the epithet was there.

Trump’s angry response to the admittedly resurfacing of the 2000 photo from Gentleman’s Quarterly is, well, rather ungentlemanly. It’s tough to know quite what Trump might be referring to: Heidi Cruz’s work for Goldman Sachs? Some past personal struggles she has acknowledged? Some unknown information? Or perhaps Trump is just bluffing, like when he promised blockbuster information about Barack Obama’s place of birth, only to produce nothing.

The other problem is that, as Cruz pointed out, the offending ad came not from the Cruz campaign or even from a Cruz-affiliated super PAC but from a super PAC established to attack Trump:

This is all pretty unsavory. Typically political candidates have tended to avoid personal attacks on family members of candidates. When they have transgressed those norms, the media, voters, and party officials have punished them. But Trump has shown over and over that he’s immune to those forces.

A big turnout night for Dems in Utah? Fox 13 in Salt Lake City is reporting that ballots are running low in several Utah Democratic caucus location. The communications director of the Utah Democratic Party, Yandary Zavala, said on Facebook that the voting locations are running low. As in Idaho, the lines look very, very long...

CNN is reporting lines in Idaho’s democratic caucus that are a mile long. Similarly, the Idaho Statesman reports long lines in Boise and Nampa. Voters, some of whom have waited for more than an hour, have been promised that they’ll be able to participate “even if they’re three blocks away,” said party communications director Dean Ferguson. Democrats caucus in the state beginning at 7 p.m. local time.

Polls have now closed in Arizona, but results aren’t expected to be released for another hour. Edison Research isn’t conducting exit polls for today’s contests, so we’ll have to wait for the actual tallies to roll in.

There’s been a split in state-level approaches to elections in recent years, with many states enforcing voter-ID laws and other measures that tend to depress turnout, while early voting, absentee voting, mail-in balloting, and other measures to expand access have also become more popular. In Arizona, a huge number of voters took advantage of the chance to vote early—roughly 40 percent of all eligible voters in Maricopa County, for example, returned early ballots.

As a result, the Maricopa County Recorder’s office opened just 60 polling places, instead of the more than 200 it operated four years ago. But the surge of interest resulted in unexpectedly long lines, extreme waits, and reports of some locations temporarily running short of ballots.

John Kasich might unwittingly deliver a setback to the #NeverTrump campaign tonight. Barring an upset, Donald Trump is expected to win in Arizona, a victory that would add to his delegate lead and move him closer to securing the Republican nomination. But opponents of the GOP frontrunner are hoping that his rival Ted Cruz can do well enough in Utah to shut Trump out of winning any delegates in the state.

A key question is whether Cruz can win more than 50 percent of the vote in Utah, which he’ll need to do in order to walk away with all of the state’s 40 delegates. If Cruz can't manage to clear that threshold, delegates will be split among candidates based on the results, leaving Trump with the chance to make additional headway toward his ultimate goal of securing the nomination.
Here's where Kasich comes in. Given the math, the candidate has ruffled some feathers by making a play for votes in Utah, a strategy that could hurt Cruz’s chances of sweeping the state. “Kasich has campaigned in the state in the closing days and bought television ads,” Politico’s Shane Goldmacher writes, adding that “the move has frustrated some anti-Trump forces.”

Kasich’s campaign appears to want to have their cake and eat it too, suggesting  that its candidate can pick up delegates in the state while still keeping delegates out of Trump’s hands. The episode, though, is emblematic of a larger question that anti-Trump Republicans are sure to be asking at this point in the race: Will Kasich’s insistence on sticking it out in the race frustrate a broader effort to dispatch Trump?

Immigration is a particularly contentious issue in Arizona, which has the nation’s toughest immigration laws. In 2010, then-governor Jan Brewer signed Senate Bill 1070, permitting law enforcement “to question anyone suspected of being in the country illegally.” A year later, Sheriff Joe Arpaio catapulted to the national spotlight for his hard-line approach to immigration. In January, Arpaio endorsed Donald Trump, whose controversial rhetoric on immigration issues has loomed over the Republican race. In Arizona, the population of unauthorized immigrants dropped between 2009 and 2012, according to the Pew Research Center. It’s unclear where the issue ranks among voters since exit polls will not be conducted, but Trump’s hard-line stance may fare well in the state. A recent poll in Arizona showed Trump leading his rivals.

The Republican caucus doors in Utah won't open for another two hours, but many voters are casting their ballots online—and encountering problems. So many voters called to complain that they overwhelmed the 20 employees staffing the Smartmatic help line in Florida, which took more than 1,000 complaints by early afternoon, the Deseret News reported.

Many of the callers had apparently failed to register before the party’s Thursday deadline. Others mistook their registration codes for their PINs, or had lost the PINs in their spam filters. But some of the complaints seemed to point to technical issues, perhaps caused by the huge surge of interest in the election:

Other Republicans, including Bountiful resident Greg Ericksen, said they had complications completing the online voting process. Ericksen said he couldn't advance after filling out the initial page of the online voting form that requests personal information, which produced error messages saying his information was inaccurate.

"I must have tried eight or nine times without success," he said.

Ericksen tried variations of his name, filling out the form on his mobile phone and a computer, and other tweaks before he was able to cast a ballot. He said he's been a registered Republican for more than 40 years.

"I tried for two or three hours and finally got it to go through," he said.

As I wrote earlier, it’s a new experiment for the state’s GOP—the Democrats, citing the cost, declined to follow their lead. But some 40,000 Utahns are expected to take advantage of online voting, a process that promises to open the caucus process to a much wider array of participants—provided that the details can get ironed out.

Arizona’s Maricopa County is kind of a big deal. It’s the most populous county in the state, the fourth most populous in the country, and among the nation’s fastest growing. A county website touts its population—more than 4 million, according to 2014 Census Bureau estimates —as “greater than 21 states.”

But despite those stats, voters in Maricopa are contending this year with a cut in the number of polling locations available countywide. “There are just 60 polling places open Tuesday in Maricopa County, way down from 200 in the 2012 primary,” a Phoenix NBC affiliate reported earlier this week. It added that the “good news” is voters can cast their ballots at any of those locations. Perhaps another bit of good news is that Maricopa residents enthusiastically partook in early voting this year: 600,000 of the county’s roughly 1.9 million registered voters cast their ballots early, according to Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan.

But greater flexibility aside, why so drastically limit the number of locations in such a populated region? Polling places are already seeing long lines. A communications manager for the Maricopa County Recorder’s office told me in an email there were “several reasons” why officials made the change: Independents can’t vote, which significantly decreases the rolls; they estimated “only around 300,000” people would vote because of early ballots; and the reduction saves taxpayer dollars.

Once the day’s voting is over, and those long lines are cleared out, officials should have a clearer view of whether the change was a positive one.

In the middle of a busy primary day came a curious announcement from the House speaker’s office: Paul Ryan on Wednesday will deliver an address on “the state of American politics” from the Ways and Means Committee hearing room in the Capitol complex. Before anyone could jump to conclusions, his spokesmen made clear that this would not be an endorsement of anyone’s candidacy. Nor will Ryan be announcing his own dramatic, white-horse entry into the Republican race—that would actually be illegal, since it’s against the law for a government officer to engage in campaign activity in the Capitol. The chosen audience for Ryan’s speech—congressional interns and reporters—is also noteworthy.

What, then, is Ryan doing? The speaker has clearly been dismayed by the tone of the 2016 campaign, and he has repeatedly—albeit somewhat reluctantly—spoken out against Donald Trump’s rhetoric toward Muslims and immigrants, and his refusal to condemn violence that’s broken out in his rallies. At the same time, he has said he will support the Republican nominee even if it’s Trump, and he says his formal role as chairman of the Republican National Convention requires him to be neutral. “Every now and then when I see something where conservatism is being disfigured, whether it's from anybody, by the way, not just one person—anybody—I'm going to speak out in defense of conservatism,” Ryan told reporters on Tuesday. “But as the chair of the convention, I'm going to be dispassionate.” The speaker has also rebuffed suggestions that if the convention is deadlocked, he could emerge as a consensus nominee.

Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong wouldn’t provide much detail about the speech in advance. “The speaker will talk about how, in a confident America, we can elevate political debates to inspire and unite people,” she wrote in an email, referencing Ryan’s 2016 slogan for the House GOP. Asked why Ryan would be speaking to interns, she replied: “We have audiences of interns often. He connects well with millennials.”

It’s already too late for the anti-Trump teams to prevent the Donald from leading the Republican race. Their game now is to try to prevent him from reaching the 1,237 delegates he needs to clinch the nomination, and then wrench the nod away from him at the Republican National Convention. So after months of prep and millions of dollars, what have they concocted to use against him in the Utah caucus?

It’s a meme based on a 16-year-old photo of Melania Trump, then not yet married to the GOP front-runner, posing on a rug. What’s the idea here? As BuzzFeed’s McKay Coppins explains, the goal is not to convince Trump voters not to back him. (And that’s a good thing: Many a Trump supporter has said that they admire Melania.) The idea is to appall socially conservative Mormons in Utah and help drive them to their caucus sites and vote against Trump, and therefore for Cruz, the consensus anti-Trump candidate.

It has certainly appalled non-Mormons. Vox’s Emily Crockett criticizes the ad for “slut-shaming” Melania Trump, and the attack on an old image of Trump’s wife may very well engender similar reactions elsewhere. It might do the same thing among Utah Mormons. Coppins, who’s as plugged in to that community as any reporter, tweets that he’s sensing backlash against the ad. And people wonder why the anti-Trump contingent hasn’t been more successful.

Over the past 10 years, Idaho State has seen huge growth in foreign students from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, who are attracted by the university’s engineering program and low cost of living. But as The New York Times reports, their arrival has been controversial, with some residents saying the students are unmannered and not academically fit for the university. At one point, a Kuwaiti student said a man flashed a handgun during a dispute over a parking space; other students have left the university amid heightened distrust over academic cheating.

Idaho is 94 percent white, according to the Census (though that includes the 12 percent of the population that is Hispanic); only six percent of its residents were born abroad. Many students—and residents—likely had few opportunities to encounter a person from the Middle East before meeting the foreign students at Idaho State. And while Donald Trump is not on the ballot today—the Republicans voted March 8, picking Ted Cruz—I imagine what’s happening in Pocatello has heavily factored into the local version of the ongoing debate over Muslim relations.

For Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, today’s nominating contest in Arizona will speak to their appeal among Hispanic voters, who make up about 22 percent of eligible voters in the state.

Leading up to Arizona’s primary, Clinton and Sanders sparred over immigration issues, saying they would go further than President Obama to shield undocumented immigrants from deportation. (Arizona is known for its tough immigration laws.) During a rally in the state on Monday, Clinton said, “We are a nation of immigrants and exiles.” The Clinton campaign also deployed Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, who addressed the crowd at a Clinton rally in English and Spanish.

Sanders, too, has placed much attention on Arizona, holding several rallies within the last week. Over the weekend, he toured the U.S.-Mexico border with Representative Raul Grijalva of Arizona, who endorsed Sanders for president. “We need to take 11 million undocumented people out of the shadows, out of fear, and we need to provide them with legal protection,” Sanders said, standing near the border fence.  

Sanders has lagged behind in garnering the support of Hispanic voters in states like Texas and Florida. Seventy-one percent of Hispanic voters backed Clinton in Texas as well as 68 percent in Florida, according to CNN’s exit poll results. But in Nevada, where Hispanic voters made up about 17 percent of the state’s eligible voters, the results became a contentious topic among the Democratic presidential candidates. Sanders is likely trying to avoid such a situation again in Arizona. But whether his efforts will help him gain traction among Hispanic voters remains to be seen. While there’s little polling in the state, a recent poll showed Clinton with a lead over Sanders.

It’s been a wacky and often cringe-inducing primary for the Republican Party, for reasons mostly not entirely attributable to Donald Trump. The entertainer barged in, forcibly captured the Republican Party against its officials’ will, and has used the platform to make misogynistic remarks, incite near-riots, and alienate minorities of various stripes. In short, it’s been embarrassing.

And in fact, 60 percent of Republicans polled by CBS and The New York Times  said that the primary process so far has made them feel “mostly embarrassed.” It may be no coincidence that Trump has won a little under 40 percent of the Republican primary popular vote. Just about a quarter of respondents said they were proud of the GOP.

Meanwhile, 82 percent of Democrats said they were proud of their party’s primary process, versus just 13 percent who said they were mostly embarrassed. Unfortunately, the survey did not measure how many Democrats were embarrassed by the Republican Party.

Democrats have an interesting delegate hunt ahead of them today in three states. Here’s how the rules will shape the results:

Arizona offers 75 delegates, 50 of whom are awarded proportionally in each of state's nine congressional districts. The 2nd district, which includes most of Tucson, offers 8 delegates. The rest offer between four and six delegates each. Whoever wins the statewide vote also wins the remaining 25 delegates. That will give the overall winner a comfortable delegate margin, but the runner-up could chip away a few delegates at the district level.

Idaho’s 23 delegates are allocated on a similar basis. The state's two congressional districts offer seven and eight delegates apiece. Another eight delegates will be awarded to the state's overall winner, which could give Sanders a slight boost as he looks to close the pledged-delegate gap between him and Clinton.

Utah distributes 22 of its 33 delegates among its four congressional districts. Delegates from within a district are awarded proportionally, so there's a chance for Clinton to cut Sanders’s gains if she makes a significant enough second-place showing. The remaining 11 delegates go to the statewide winner.

A few weeks ago, voters in the Idaho Republican race resoundingly chose Ted Cruz over Donald Trump by a margin of 17 percentage points. But in the past several days, Idahoans have shown a touch of Trump: State legislators moved forward with a bill intended to protect Idaho court proceedings from the influence of Sharia law. “Invoking foreign law and foreign legal doctrines ... is a means of imposing an agenda on the American people, while circumventing the U.S. and state constitutions,” said the bill’s sponsor, Eric Redman, according to the AP.

For those participating in the Democratic caucus who are interested in beating Trump, rather than writing his ethos into state law, Bernie Sanders still says he'd be more competitive against Trump in a general election. But the bigger challenge will be making it there: As Clare mentioned, he’s way behind Clinton in delegate counts, and “state polls of Democrats do not indicate that the race is likely to shift in his favor,” says The New York Times.

Bernie Sanders has fallen far behind Hillary Clinton in the delegate count, but his campaign has stressed that the upcoming slate of primary contests could deliver a series of victories. Today’s results will be the first test of that optimism. As Yoni noted there is reason to believe that Sanders may do well in Idaho and Utah, two states with heavily white electorates that hold caucuses, which tend to reward strong grassroots enthusiasm.

The bigger question is how Sanders will fare in Arizona, the state with the largest number of delegates at stake on Tuesday. (Arizona’s Democratic contest doles out 85 delegates, while Idaho and Utah award a total of 27 and 37, respectively.) Sanders badly needs to win as many delegates as possible to mount any kind of substantial challenge to Clinton in the delegate race.

Arizona is also expected to test Sanders’s ability to perform in a more diverse electorate, and with Hispanic voters. A poor showing in the state will make it easier for critics to argue that Sanders simply doesn’t have the broad appeal needed to win a general election. Another point worth noting is that Sanders has spent a significant amount of time campaigning in Arizona, indicating that the campaign views the state as a significant battleground. Earlier this week, a local Arizona news outlet reported that “Bernie Sanders has made Arizona his home away from home,” adding that the candidate promised a crowd in Flagstaff: “If everyone comes out to vote, we’re going to win here in Arizona.”

For now, the polls tell a different story. Clinton leads Sanders in recent polling, though FiveThirtyEight isn’t making a forecast yet, citing a lack of adequate data to draw from.

“I’m not going to take the bait this morning.”

“It’s going to be all President Trump this time.”

“Do you really think I’m going to answer these questions?”

House Speaker Paul Ryan didn’t take too kindly to several Donald Trump-related questions at his press briefing Tuesday morning, offering reporters smirks and verbal finger-wagging when they asked repeatedly about the Republican front-runner and the 2016 race. But those reporters can’t be blamed for trying. Ryan has called out Trump in previous primary-day pressers, where he addressed Trump’s waffling on the KKK and responded to violence at recent Trump rallies.

On Tuesday, Ryan explained why he’s being selective in commenting. “Look, my job is, as a conservative, to speak out [about my beliefs], to defend our principles,” he said. But as the speaker and the Republican presidential convention chairman, Ryan needs to be “dispassionate—to call balls and strikes—and I’m not going to weigh in on these things,” referring to the race’s daily happenings. He’ll limit himself to commenting only when conservatism is being “disfigured.”

Ryan might sincerely believe Trump has campaigned within the typical confines of a conservative politician this week. Or perhaps Ryan’s evasions are another sign of Republican fatigue around stopping Trump.

A key undercard in this election cycle appears to be the issue of citizenship, which has shaped not only one primary race, but also the candidacy of Senator Ted Cruz. Just weeks after Puerto Rico supported Senator Marco Rubio’s stance on statehood with a majority vote in the Republican primary, and on the day arguments about the limits of Puerto Rico authority will be argued before the Supreme Court in Puerto Rico v. Franklin, American Samoa will vote in the Republican primary.

While they don’t have nearly the numbers or national political power of Puerto Rican voters, who also cannot vote in the general election, American Samoans have an additional issue to consider. While Puerto Ricans are considered citizens and are fully protected by 14th Amendment rights if they move to the mainland, people in American Samoa are considered U.S. nationals and not U.S. citizens, a distinction which means they must first be naturalized to vote in the general election, even if they migrate to the U.S. mainland.

This issue has finally come to a head with the plaintiffs in Tuaua v. United States, who have recently petitioned the Supreme Court. The U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. ruled last year that birthright citizenship does not extend to people in American Samoa, despite it being a part of the United States. If the Court does grant cert, its decisions in Tuaua and in Puerto Rico v. Franklin could reshape the legal parameters of territorial status, birthright citizenship, and voting.

How does today’s primary impact this long-simmering discussion? Well, the Canadian-born Cruz, the candidate expected to take most of the territory’s nine delegates––unbound by the primary vote, unless a territory resolution is based––could also spark a court clarification of citizenship with his own candidacy. Altough the clamor over Cruz’s birthright citizenship has died down in the past weeks, the question of just who can run and vote for president has emerged as a serious issue.


Almost two months after voting began in Iowa, the 2016 presidential race heads to a new batch of states on Tuesday, with contests in Utah, Arizona, Idaho, and American Samoa. For the Republicans, these contests give Donald Trump a chance to build his delegate lead, Ted Cruz a shot at knocking him off pace for a majority, and John Kasich the opportunity to remind voters he’s still running. On the Democratic side of the aisle, it touches off a string of contests in which Bernie Sanders may perform particularly well, as he works to persuade voters the race isn’t over yet.