Next up for both parties on the schedule is Tuesday’s primary in Arizona and the caucuses in Utah. Democrats will also hold a caucus in Idaho (GOP Idaho caucus was on March 8th). Arizona seems to be going for Trump overwhelmingly, so let’s look at Utah. Donald Trump has just made a big TV buy to run a commercial called, “Lying Ted Cruz.”
According to Politico:
Donald Trump has launched a late TV ad blitz in Utah that targets Ted Cruz just days before state Republicans caucus Tuesday.
The commercial recycles a now familiar Trump attack against the Texas senator, dubbing him “Lying Ted Cruz.”
The spot casts Cruz as inconsistent on immigration, an issue that both Trump and the senator have made central to their campaigns. It spotlights an interview Cruz gave on Fox News in December, when he was shown past statements in which he appeared to back a pathway to citizenship for those living in the United States illegally. In the interview, Cruz struggles to answer why he opposes that same position now.
“Lying Ted Cruz: Just another all talk, no action politician,” the ad says.
How far ahead is Cruz? In the latest Utah poll, Cruz is ahead of Trump 53-11. And it’s a new poll by Y2 Analytics, March 17-19.
Meanwhile, the betting is that Cruz will win Utah with a probability of 93.1%
So, why is Trump waging a battle where he’s behind by more than 40 points? It’s not because he wants to win it, it’s to keep Cruz from getting that predicted 53%. You see, Utah is a “Majority-Take-All” state. If any candidate gets more than 50%, he’ll get ALL 40 delegates, according to Breitbart:
If Trump were to win Arizona, hold Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) below 50 percent in Utah, and sweep the four remaining winner-take-all primaries (Delaware–16 delegates–on April 26, Nebraska–36 delegates–on May 10, and New Jersey–51 delegates–and Montana–27 delegates– on June 7), he would only need to take 43 percent of the remaining delegates, a standard slightly below the 45 percent of allocated delegates he currently has. . .
Should Trump win Arizona and keep Cruz below the 50 percent mark in Utah, while passing the 15 percent threshold himself in that state, he would need to take 51 percent of the outstanding delegates to secure a first ballot nomination. But if Cruz wins more than 50 percent, that number increases to 53 percent for Trump. If Cruz wins Arizona, Trump’s “need to win” number jumps to 58 percent.
Therefore, Trump’s blitz in Utah has two goals—to get Cruz under 50% AND to bring himself from 11% to at least 15%.
There are several obstacles. For one thing, Utah is a caucus state. In a primary, each individual decides for him- or herself, individually, independently. But in a caucus, people get together and talk about the candidates. It’s a lot easier for the Cruz organization to manipulate small groups of voters. Peer pressure.
Another problem is that Mitt Romney has made it his holy crusade to attack Trump.
Governor Mitt Romney, a Mormon with strong ties to the state where he helped lead the 1998 Winter Olympics out of financial trouble, chose Utah as the venue to make his recent anti-Trump pronouncement.
While Romney campaigned with Kasich in Ohio, he did not endorse him, and it is unclear if he will choose to strategically campaign with Cruz, who was leading both Trump and Kasich in a February poll taken there prior to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’s withdrawal from the race.
It probably didn’t help that Trump criticized the Utah “Favorite Son,” even joking that Romney may not even be a real Mormon. That drew a lot of fire, and Trump said it was a joke, and again thought the flap was a sign of excessive political correctness, report from the Salt Lake Tribune:
“Well, with Mitt Romney — first of all, with Mitt Romney, I was saying to the Mormons, the Mormons are very smart people, and I said it in a joking way, but they can take it any way — you can take it any way you want. The Mormons are very smart people. I know many Mormons.
I don’t think Mitt Romney is a smart person. I never have thought he was a smart person. But the Mormons are very smart people.
So I said, are you sure he’s a Mormon?
And I’m not going to change it, because I think Mitt Romney has proven to be not a smart person.”
Mormons may be smart, but they’re not known for their sense of humor, Donald.