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Super Tuesday Vote Closer Than it Appeared

Trump might have sounded like he was ready to claim the nomination, but the numbers tell a different story. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Trump might have sounded like he was ready to claim the nomination, but the numbers tell a different story. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The most important result from Super Tuesday was not whether a candidate won a state, but by how much he or she won.  

Political watchers are hailing Donald Trump’s seven first-place finishes on the biggest day of the primary season so far as a clear victory for the Republican front-runner. But the winner of a state carries less significance in the race for delegates at this point in the campaign, with the GOP’s winner-take-all system not kicking in until March 15.  

Each state that voted on Tuesday allocated delegates proportionally to the percentage of votes received by each candidate. Some states have minimum thresholds to win delegates, some have other formulas that apply to congressional district-level delegates, but none pledge all their delegates to the winner of the state.  

On the Republican side, Trump won seven of the 11 states up for grabs Tuesday, with a margin of victory of more than 10 percentage points in four of them. The other three of his victories were much closer — he won by 2 percentage points in Arkansas, three in Vermont and three in Virginia.  

In the states where Trump did not come in first — Alaska, Oklahoma, Minnesota and Texas — he lost by three, six, 15 and 17 percentage points, respectively.  

On the Democratic side, all of Hillary Clinton’s seven victories except Massachusetts were by more than 29 percentage points ahead of her competitor, Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt. Sanders won four of the 11 states in play Tuesday, but his margins of victory were mostly smaller than Clinton’s. His home state produced his only win by greater than 27 percentage points.  

Beyond vote percentages, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, fared far better in Tuesday’s contests. He nabbed just 35 fewer delegates than Trump’s 249 at last count, with 20 more delegates still to be determined as of Wednesday.  

Clinton walked away with 58 percent of the 1,010 Democratic delegates at stake on Tuesday, leaving Sanders with 32 percent. About 9 percent of the Democratic delegates from Tuesday are still to be determined.  

A GOP candidate will need 1,237 delegates total from all contests to win the nomination. On the Democratic side, 2,383 delegates are needed to secure the nomination.  


Ryan Kelly contributed to this report.  

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