PHOENIX — The candidates and the nation alike will be watching closely as Arizona heads to the polls for its presidential preference election on Tuesday.
While two other states — Idaho for the Republicans and Utah for both parties — and American Samoa will host a primary-type event on Tuesday, Arizona is the prize. Voters will award 58 Republican and 85 Democratic delegates when all is said and done in the Grand Canyon State.
The Republican delegates are awarded in a winner-take-all format, while the Democrats are doled out based on the percentage of voters each candidate gets.
Arizona’s Tuesday vote will not lock up the nomination for any candidate, but it could put some of them on the ropes after the polls close at 7 p.m. local time.
To make things easier and to answer the age-old question “Does my vote count?” (spoiler: it does), we broke down what Arizona’s presidential preference election could mean for each candidate.
(Editor’s note: If you need to read up on where they stand on some of the issues, click here.)
The current front-runner, things can only get better for Donald Trump on Tuesday. Most polls said the New York billionaire held a double-digit advantage over rival Ted Cruz.
Trump enjoyed some strong shows of support in Arizona over the weekend. He hosted three rallies, all of which drew crowds of supporters and protesters alike, though at least one was marred by violence.
Should Trump bring home the prize, he’ll hold a huge lead over Cruz. With Arizona’s included, Trump’s delegate count would sit at 738 of the 1,237 needed to claim the nomination. He could also put John Kasich’s campaign on ice, but more on that later.
The Texas senator is currently the only perceived rival to Trump. As of Monday, he trailed Trump by 256 delegates, meaning Arizona’s could help him make a big gain.
Though he announced his Phoenix events later than other candidates, Cruz made a decent push in the state. He toured the Arizona-Mexico border on Friday before addressing a crowd at a local Christian college.
His speech focused mainly on illegal immigration, a huge issue for Arizona voters. And while polls had him 14 points behind Trump, it will be a wait-and-see scenario if his efforts paid off.
The Ohio governor was the only candidate that did not visit Arizona before Tuesday’s vote, instead holding several events in Utah.
Sitting at a distant third in the delegate count, Kasich is clinging on by a thread in the race. Most thought he was done last week, until he pulled out a narrow win over Trump in his home state’s primary.
Barring a miracle in Arizona, with just months until the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Kasich will have to hope for several more big wins if he’s going to pose a serious challenge to Trump and Cruz.
The last candidate to arrive in the Valley may be the first one to safely declare victory. Though Hillary Clinton did not host a personal political event until Monday — her husband, Bill, was in town Sunday — polls said she had the largest lead of any candidate in Arizona.
The former secretary of state leads rival Bernie Sanders by 319 pledged delegates, but that number balloons to 760 when the party’s superdelegates are factored in. The eventual nominee will need 2,383 delegates.
Despite polling numbers essentially handing the Arizona presidential preference election to Clinton, Sanders has made a big push in the state and held multiple events.
The Vermont senator promised swift immigration change during a visit to the border town of Nogales, Arizona and held rallies in the state’s three largest cities — Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff.
During a Phoenix rally on Saturday, Sanders basically recapped the race thus far: If a large number of young voters head to the polls, he stands a chance. If they don’t, Arizona will be another stepping stone on Clinton’s path to the nomination.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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