Donald Trump extends winning streak with victories in Idaho and Michigan after early Missouri result

Donald Trump extends winning streak with victories in Idaho and Michigan after early Missouri result

Former President Donald Trump moved closer to the Republican nomination on Saturday with victories in the Idaho, Michigan, and Missouri caucuses that put his remaining rival, Nikki Haley, further in the rear-view mirror.

The contests were easily won by Mr Trump, who carried 89.3 per cent of the vote in Idaho and 100 per cent in Missouri.

In Michigan, the former president took all 39 delegates that were available on Saturday. In a separate Michigan primary earlier this week, Mr Trump won 12 of the other 16 delegates up for grabs.

Saturday’s contests were the last before Super Tuesday where Nikki Haley is desperate to pick off a single state to make her case for hanging on in the primaries and providing an alternative to voters.

The unspoken implication appears to be that some, apparently including Ms Haley, believe that Mr Trump, who is facing 91 felony charges, may yet exit the race.

On 5 March, voters will head to the polls in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia. The voting wave accounts for more than a third of delegates ahead of the Republican National Convention in July.

For Ms Haley, this Tuesday is an opportunity to breathe life into her campaign. For Mr Trump, it is the time to put the race away in a decisive manner. Polls do not show Ms Haley leading anywhere, however, her campaign is optimistic about states with high suburban populations.

“Vermont, Utah, Virginia. I think there are states that, if you look at demographically, she has a chance to win,” a source close to the leadership of Ms Haley’s super PAC told reporters last week, after her defeat in South Carolina.

Mr Trump has won every state in the Republican primaries so far. Ms Haley is his last challenger after Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida, and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy dropped out in January after the Iowa caucuses.

The former president remains the favourite of Republican voters and is leading President Joe Biden in some swing states, according to some recent polling.

However, other polls suggest that a sizeable number of Republicans, and America’s unaffiliated voters, won’t vote for Mr Trump in November.

All three of the contests on Saturday were caucuses, which are more time-consuming and require more voter engagement, possibly benefitting Mr Trump as he has many fervent followers.

Caucuses usually have lower turnout than primaries since voters have to arrive at a specific time and stick around for a while to take part in the more labour-intensive process compared to pulling a lever in a primary.

Prominent Iowa pollster Ann Selzer spoke to The Independent about the caucus process late last year ahead of the first-in-the-nation contest. While caucuses vary from state to state, it’s usually the case that voters listen to a speech and then declare their support.

“Caucuses are designed for things to happen in the room on caucus night — there’s a moment in time where a representative from each campaign stands up and makes their pitch — they get a couple of minutes to do it,” she said, noting the importance of “person-to-person politicking at the last possible moment”.

“If you don’t know how to get the votes, [how to] get your name written on a piece of paper, you can lose that way,” she added at the time.

But the Trump campaign appears to have learned from its previous experiences, handily winning all the contests so far, caucuses and primaries alike.

The Missouri caucuses were called by the AP for Mr Trump at 12.40pm ET on Saturday. After Mr Trump won all the delegates at the Michigan convention caucuses, the news agency called the Idaho race at 6.58pm ET.

Both Idaho and Missouri cancelled the Republican primary to hold caucuses instead, handing control of the state nomination to a small number of party members.

Idaho last held caucuses in 2012, when only 45,000 people participated – about 20 per cent of all registered Republicans in the state. On Saturday, fewer than 40,000 votes were cast.

The timing could also have been a problem for some, with Idaho, which is in both the Mountain and Pacific time zones, holding its caucuses at 12.30pm or 1.30pm, while Missouri, which is in the Central time zone, held its caucuses at 10am local time.

Michigan held its caucuses at 10am ET where the average voter wasn’t allowed to participate. In Michigan’s primary on Tuesday, which allocated about 16 of 55 delegates, Mr Trump won 12. The Michigan legislature is controlled by Democrats and it set a different date for the contest than the Republican National Committee (RNC).

So the state Republican Party instead chose a hybrid – having both a primary and a caucus, with most of the delegates being awarded via the latter. The caucus convention on Saturday only brought together about 2,000 activists who had been chosen at the county level, excluding ordinary voters, Yahoo! News noted.

Activists alleged last year that state Republican chair Kristina Karamo had mishandled the party’s finances. Mr Trump supported a different state party chair, ex-Rep Pete Hoekstra, who also received the backing of the RNC.

But Ms Karamo didn’t step back and instead set up her own caucus convention, only buckling under the pressure from the national party a day before the caucuses were set to take place, cancelling her convention.

Republican groups in two of the 13 congressional districts had also been planning to hold their own conventions this weekend, adding to the confusion.

Two operatives close to Ms Karamo told NBC News on Friday that her convention had been cancelled.

Ms Karamo posted a video on X, telling her backers to “keep fighting” and go “where your district chair recommends”.

Michigan GOP strategist Jason Cabel Roe told NBC ahead of the caucuses: “Delegates have been getting conflicting and confusing emails for weeks — promoting different agendas, different staff, different conventions.”

“You have to pay close attention to even know who is sending what and what the legitimate directions and events are,” he added.

After voting in the South Carolina primary last month, Ms Haley told reporters: “We’re going to keep going all the way through Super Tuesday”.

“That’s as far as I’ve thought in terms of going forward,” she said at the time.