The bare-bones numbers:
KANSAS: Cruz 48.2% (24), Trump 23.3% (9)
KENTUCKY: Trump 35.9% (17), Cruz 31.6% (15)
LOUISIANA: Trump 41.4% (18), Cruz 37.8% (18)
MAINE: Cruz 45.9% (12), Trump 32.6% (9)
Both candidates have plenty of room to spin these results in their favor. Trump can argue that he took two out of three more "road" games on what should be Senator Cruz's "turf". Cruz can argue that he returned the favor in Maine, the northeasternmost of States, that his losses were narrow and his victories were blowouts, that their overall respective vote totals were a flat-footed tie, that he reduced his delegate deficit by twenty-five points, and that - and this is what is most PR relevant in terms of perceived momentum trends - he significantly overperformed, and Trump slumped, in terms of expectations, since Trump was, of course, expected to roll up another sweeping table-running and failed miserably to do so.
Did the most recent two debate muggings of Trump have an impact on Tuesday's and yesterday's results? Emphatically, says Dick Morris:
Ted Cruz's victories in Kansas and Maine mark a dramatic turning point in the presidential race. Trump was favored to win both States and his falloff may be a significant indicator that he was badly hurt in Thursday's debate.
Given that Cruz almost caught Trump in Kentucky and Louisiana as well, I'd say that's a valid assertion.
The failure of Rubio or Kasich to score heavily shows that their voters are moving to Cruz as a strategic move to stop Trump.
Another persuasive point. Senator Rubio garnered 22% of the overall vote on Tuesday, but didn't rise above the mid-teens anywhere yesterday. Not a huge strategic realignment yet, but perhaps the beginning of a trend, as the perception that Rubio is done begins to take hold and gather its own unstoppable momentum.
One which the two front-runners wasted no time piling on to reinforce:
If rightwing Dezi gets that message at any point, of course, it isn't going to be soon:
“These States have a certain profile that other candidates do better in,” he said of Kansas, Kentucky and Louisiana, all of which voted Saturday and went for his opponents, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.
But he framed his losses in all three States — after a three-stop barnstorm of Kansas on Friday — as part of his overall strategy to amass enough delegates to make a play for the nomination in the long run.
“What you need to understand is that all of these States are awarding delegates by proportion. So tonight, we will have more delegates than we did last night.”
That's true, as far as it goes; Rubio picked up eighteen delegates....to Trump's forty-four and Cruz's sixty-nine. The point of this exercise is not to "have more delegates than we did last night," but to gain more delegates than "our" opponents. As it stands, Rubes is disappearing in his rivals' dust-choked rear-view mirrors. A perception that he's not going to be able to fight for long.
As to what he meant by "These States have a certain profile," your guess is as good as mine. I'm assuming he didn't mean ethnic preferences, since Cruz is as Latino as he is. Sounds like whiny excuse-making that begs the question of what States DO "fit his profile," for which his lone victory thus far - Minnesota - wouldn't seem to be a likely candidate.
I guess Puerto Rico does fit Rubio's profile, since he's just been declared the winner there and will pick up
Next up: Hawaii, Idaho, Michigan, and Mississippi on Tuesday. Will Cruz cruise and the Trump slump continue?