Cruz, Trump Locked in Dead Heat in Missouri

Leah Barkoukis
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Posted: Mar 15, 2016 10:55 PM
Cruz, Trump Locked in Dead Heat in Missouri

***LIVE Election Results***

With 70% reporting, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are locked in a dead heat. 

Sanders, meanwhile, is leading Hillary. 

**Original Post**

Heading into Missouri’s primary Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump had the lead among their respective opponents, although polling in the state has been scant.

A Fort Hays St. University poll taken just days before tonight’s contest had Trump leading the GOP field by 7 points.

Among Republicans, the billionaire businessman Trump leads Texas Sen. Ted Cruz 36-29, with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio at 9 percent and Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 8. A total of 17 percent of Republican poll respondents said they were undecided.

In the same poll, Clinton was ahead of her rival Sen. Bernie Sanders by 7 points as well, although a more recent PPP poll had Sanders up by 1 point.

Either way, despite focus on Ohio and Florida tonight, Missouri is an important race that could also be just as pivotal in determining Trump’s path toward the nomination. 

“Missouri is going to play a key part” in continuing to narrow the field, Cruz told reporters in Cape Girardeau, Mo., last week. And his campaign manager, Jeff Roe, confirmed as much in a recent interview with RCP, saying they see “a real opportunity” in The Show Me State. “Trump has got a floor everywhere, but when you take the congressional breakdowns and the media markets where we’re participating, we think we have a real opportunity in the state,” he said.

FiveThirtyEight agrees:

This could be Cruz’s best state on Tuesday, though there has been little polling so it’s hard to know exactly what’s going on in the Show-Me State. As in almost every other state, Trump is leading the field with support in the 30s. But unlike in Illinois, Cruz is in a clear second place in Missouri. Cruz has also done disproportionately well in the region. He won Iowa to Missouri’s north and Kansas to the west, and he came in a close second in Arkansas to the south. Cruz also was competing with Rubio to be the anti-Trump in those states, but with Rubio’s struggles, Cruz will get a clearer shot at Trump in Missouri. That said, those contests were not open primaries, like Missouri’s, a format that has tended to favor Trump.If Trump wins in Missouri, he may be on his way to winning every state on Tuesday. Either way, there’s a good chance of a delegate split in the state because most are awarded by congressional district.

On the Democratic side of things, given the latest aforementioned poll, the race there is currently a toss-up, although Clinton’s huge lead in the delegate count—currently 1,227 to Sanders’ 576—gives her plenty of breathing room. Still, depending on how tonight shapes up for Sanders, Clinton may still have to spend time, energy, and money fending off attacks from the Vermont senator for a little while longer.

As for the all important delegate count, there are 52 Republican delegates up for grabs (40 district and 12 statewide) and 71 Democratic delegates (47 district, 24 statewide).  

And how will they be awarded? It's a bit complicated

For the Democrats: 

[T]he votes of Missouri's 71 delegates will be decided by the people in an open primary; voters are free to chose to mark any ballot — Democratic, Republican, or Libertarian — they choose. Missouri's Democrats have a somewhat convoluted procedure for assigning delegates for this summer's convention in Philadelphia; 47 of the delegates will be awarded on a proportional basis to any candidate who captures over 15 percent of the vote in the state's congressional districts, of which there are eight.

The rest of the delegates will be divided proportionally based on each candidate's share of the vote statewide, with a 15-percent threshold in place as well. In a state with a predominantly rural character, what this type of allocation scheme does is give more weight to the voters in the sparsely populated rural congressional districts (MO-3, MO-4, MO-6, MO-7, MO-8) while affording less-than-equal representation to voters in more urban and suburban areas of St. Louis, Kansas City and Independence.

And the Republicans:

In Missouri, Republican delegates will be competing over 52 delegates, who will be awarded via an equally convoluted process. First, only actively campaigning candidates can get delegates. This means that anyone who made the ballot filing deadline but dropped out of the race will be ineligible for delegate support. Should anyone get more than 50 percent of the vote, then it's winner-take-all. If that isn't the case, then they are split up another way. Twelve will be awarded to the winner of the statewide popular vote, and five will be awarded to the winner of each of Missouri's eight congressional districts. Just like in the Democratic primary, this system gives a heavier weight to the five rural congressional districts over the more densely populated urban and suburban areas. 

Voting ends at 7 p.m. central. Stay tuned for live updates as results come in.