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Electoral College: Despite protests, Southern electors stick with Trump

Trump carried 165 of the region’s 180 votes; two ‘faithless’ electors in Texas vote for Kasich, Ron Paul

♦By Rich Shumate, Chicken Fried Politics.com editor

southern states sm(CFP) — Members of the Electoral College have met at 14 Southern statehouses and, as expected, gave the overwhelming majority of the region’s electoral votes to President-elect Donald Trump, ignoring calls by anti-Trump protestors to stop his elevation to the nation’s highest office.

Candidate Donald Trump

Donald Trump

Trump carried 165 of the South’s 180 electoral votes in the December 19 vote. Hillary Clinton won the 13 electoral votes from Virginia, which was the only Southern state she carried.

The only place where Republican electors broke ranks was in Texas, where the defections of two Republican electors did not stop Trump from securing the 270 votes he needed to win the White House.

Chris Suprun, a Dallas paramedic who had previously announced he would not vote for Trump, cast his ballot for Ohio Governor John Kasich. Elector Bill Greene, who represented the 34th District, which takes in the Gulf Coast between Brownsville and Corpus Christi, voted for former Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul.

Afterward, Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted his support for a bill that would preclude so-called “faithless” electors by requiring them to vote for the candidate who carried the state on election day, in this case, Trump.

“This charade is over.,” Abbot said. “A bill is already filed to make these commitments binding. I look forward to signing it & ending this circus.

Twenty-nine states have laws binding electors to the popular vote winner in their states, including the Southern states of Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. Currently in Texas, state law doesn’t bind electors, although the Texas GOP required them to take an oath pledging to vote for the popular vote winner.

The Electoral College vote is usually a formality to which scant public attention is paid. However, Trump’s surprise win on November 8, coupled with his loss to Clinton by more than 2.8 million votes in the popular vote, galvanized anti-Trump protests at state capitols around the country.

Small groups of protestors gathered in Tallahassee, Atlanta, Nashville, Raleigh, Austin, Oklahoma City and Montgomery.

In Austin, shouts from protestors were audible inside the State House chamber where electors met, according to local media reports.

In Little Rock, anti-Trump activists took many of the seats in the old Supreme Court chamber in the State Capitol, where the vote took place. According to local media reports, one protestor was removed, although the electors also chatted amiably with the demonstrators before the vote took place.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz picks Carly Fiorina as running mate

Cruz looks to reignite campaign with early announcement of VP pick

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

southern-states-lgINDIANAPOLIS (CFP) — U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has picked former Hewlett-Packard CEO and one-time rival Carly Fiorina as his vice presidential running mate in a bid to jump start his flagging campaign.

Vice Presidential Candidate Carly Fiorina

Vice Presidential Candidate Carly Fiorina

“Carly is brilliant and capable, and yet she experienced the hardscrabble world of being a woman professional in the business world that extracts a price,” Cruz told a rally in Indianapolis on April 27, where he rolled out his new ticket. “Over and over again, Carly has shattered glass ceilings.”

Conceding that selecting a running mate before clinching the nomination was “unusual,” he said he picked Fiorina because she can unite the GOP and because her selection would “give the American people a clear choice.”

In her debut as a vice presidential candidate, Fiorina described the campaign as “a fight for the soul of our party and the future of our nation.”

“I’ve had tough fights all my life. Tough fights don’t worry me. What matters is, is this fight worth having? And this is a fight worth having. This is a fight worth winning.”

Fiorina, 61, suspended her own presidential campaign in February after finishing in seventh place in the New Hampshire GOP primary. She later endorsed Cruz and has joined him on the campaign trail, where she has bonded with Cruz’s two young daughters.

In an odd moment during her debut, Fiorina went on to sing part of a song she made up for his daughters, which began, “I know two girls that I just adore. I’m so happy I can see them more.”

GOP front-runner Donald Trump ridiculed the selection of Fiorina, dismissing it as a “desperate attempt to save a failing campaign.”

The Fiorina pick marks the first time since 1976 that a presidential candidate has named a running mate prior to clinching the nomination. It came a day after Cruz was mathematically eliminated from capturing a delegate majority after getting wiped out in five primaries in the Northeast.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz

Cruz came in third behind both Trump and Ohio Governor John Kasich in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland and Rhode Island. He failed to crack 20 percent in any of those states and managed less than 11 percent in Rhode Island.

The only state where Cruz didn’t finish dead last was Pennsylvania, where he took 22 percent of the vote and edged out Kasich for second place. Trump won all five primaries up for grabs in the April 26 vote.

Cruz, the last Southerner left in the presidential race, will now head to Indiana, which is increasingly seen as a must-win for the senator to stop Trump from getting to a delegate majority, triggering a contested convention. Indiana votes May 3.

A contested convention is now Cruz’s only path to the GOP nomination. With his losses in the Northeast, he has 562 delegates and would need 675 to secure a majority in Cleveland; however, there are only 616 delegates still outstanding.

With his victories in the Northeast, Trump has 954 pledged delegates. He needs to win just 283 more delegates to secure the nomination, or about 46 percent of the delegates remaining.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz blitzed in Northeast

Cruz loses in five states, mathematically eliminating him from getting a delegate majority

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

southern-states-lgPHILADELPHIA (CFP) — U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has been mathematically eliminated from capturing a majority of Republican presidential delegates after  getting wiped out in five primaries in the Northeast.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz

Cruz came in third behind both Donald Trump and Ohio Governor John Kasich in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland and Rhode Island. He failed to crack 20 percent in any of those states and managed less than 11 percent in Rhode Island.

The only state where Cruz didn’t finish dead last was Pennsylvania, where he took 22 percent of the vote and edged out Kasich for second place. Trump won all five primaries up for grabs in the April 26 vote.

Cruz, the last Southerner left in the presidential race, will now head to Indiana, which is increasingly seen as a must-win for the senator to stop Trump from getting to a delegate majority, triggering a contested convention. Indiana votes May 3.

A contested convention is now Cruz’s only path to the GOP nomination. With his losses in the Northeast, he has 562 delegates and would need 675 to secure a majority in Cleveland; however, there are only 616 delegates still outstanding.

With his victories in the Northeast, Trump has 954 pledged delegates. He needs to win just 283 more delegates to secure the nomination, or about 46 percent of the delegates remaining.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz soundly beaten in New York primary

Texas senator gets none of New York’s 95 delegates after finishing 46 points behind Donald Trump

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

southern-states-lgNEW YORK (CFP) — U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas limped to a third-place finish in New York’s Republican primary, a loss which has all but eliminated him from capturing a delegate majority before the GOP convention in Cleveland in July.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz

Cruz, the only Southerner left in the presidential race, took less than 15 percent of the vote in the Empire State, trailing Donald Trump, who took 61 percent, and Ohio Governor John Kasich, who took 25.

Because he failed to crack 20 percent in New York, Cruz was also shut out of getting any of the 95 delegates up for grabs in the April 19 vote.

To get to the 1,237 delegates needed for a first ballot victory, Cruz will now need to sweep all of the remaining primaries, including several on April 26 in Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states where polls show him trailing Trump.

However, Cruz has been making inroads in the parallel delegate selection process, where actual convention delegates are picked. And although many of these pro-Cruz delegates will be legally obligated to vote for Trump on the first ballot, they will be free to defect if Trump can’t muster a first-ballot majority.

Cruz thumps Trump in Wisconsin primary

Texas senator’s win complicates Trump’s quest for GOP delegate majority

southern-states-lgMILWAUKEE (CFP) — U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas easily defeated Donald Trump in Wisconsin’s Republican presidential primary, complicating Trump’s quest to get to the 1,237 delegates he needs to win the GOP nomination outright.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz

Riding a wave of conservative and establishment opposition to Trump, Cruz took 48 percent in the April 5 vote, compared to 35 percent for Trump and 14 percent for Ohio Governor John Kasich.

Perhaps more importantly, Cruz took 36 of the 42 delegates up for grabs in the Badger State, compared to just six for Trump.

Speaking to his supporters in Milwaukee after his victory, the Texas senator hailed the result as a turning point in the campaign.

“Tonight, Wisconsin has lit a candle guiding the way forward,” Cruz said. “Tonight is about unity, and tonight is about hope.”

Trump did not speak after the results came in, but his campaign released a statement calling Cruz “a Trojan horse, being used by the party bosses attempting to steal the nomination from Mr. Trump.”

Cruz’s win in Wisconsin was his ninth of the campaign season and his second in the Midwest, after Iowa. But he still trails Trump, who has won in 21 states.

Trump’s loss means he will now have to win 56 percent of the delegates up for grabs in the remaining primaries and caucuses to secure a majority at the Republican convention in Cleveland, making a contested convention more likely.

However, the primary battle now turns to states in the Northeast, including New York in two weeks–home turf for Trump but inhospitable territory for a Southern conservative.

Poll: Trump, Clinton running even in normally deep red Mississippi

Results of a new Mason-Dixon poll expose Trump’s general election vulnerabilities

mississippi mugJACKSON, Mississippi (CFP) — A new poll shows that if Republicans pick Donald Trump as their nominee, Mississippi could be in play in the general election for the first time in 36 years–a stark illustration of the uphill battle he may face across the country come November.

Candidate Donald Trump

Candidate Donald Trump

The Mason-Dixon poll of Mississippi voters showed Trump leading the likely Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, by just 3 points, 46 percent to 43 percent, with 11 percent undecided. That is within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent, which means that, statistically speaking, Trump and Clinton are in a tie.

By contrast, Trump’s rivals for the GOP nomination, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Governor John Kasich, both beat Clinton by double-digit margins.

The last time Mississippi was in play in a general election was in 1980, when Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter by less than 2 points. The last Democrat to carry Mississippi was Carter in 1976.

How rare is it for a Democratic nominee to carry Mississippi? In the last 60 years, it has happened exactly twice, in 1956 and 1976. And in the last four elections, the Republican candidate has won by an average of 15 points.

The poll results are likely to add fuel to arguments by Cruz and Kasich that Trump would be a general election disaster for the GOP. Cruz leads Clinton in a general election match-up 51 percent to 40 percent; Kasich does even better, 52 percent to 37 percent.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Clinton holds an astounding 90-point lead among African-American voters, who make up a third of the Mississippi electorate. A mere 3 percent of black voters said they support Trump.

Clinton also has an 8-point lead among women and is taking a 15 percent share of Republican women.

And while Trump pulls only 8 percent of Democrats, the poll showed Clinton winning 11 percent of Republicans. Self-identified independents broke for Trump 49 percent to 37 percent.

The poll also showed that while both Clinton and Trump have high negatives among voters in the Magnolia State, Trump was viewed slightly more unfavorably. The difference between his favorable and unfavorable ratings was 11 points; hers was 8.

The poll of 625 registered Mississippi voters was conducted March 28-30. The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage votes, which means there is a 95 percent probability that the actual result if all voters were surveyed would fall within a range 4 points above and below the reported figure.

Marco Rubio exits presidential race after losing Florida

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton win primaries in Florida and North Carolina

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

florida mugMIAMI (CFP) — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio has of Florida ended his presidential campaign after losing the Sunshine State to Donald Trump in the Republican primary.

Trump also carried North Carolina. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton also easily won both Florida and North Carolina.

The only Southerner now left in the race, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, failed to win any of the five March 15 contests. However, his losses to Trump were narrow in North Carolina and Illinois, and Missouri was a virtual tie, with Trump prevailing by less than 1,800 votes.

“After tonight, America now has a clear choice going forward,” Cruz told supporters in Houston. “Only two campaigns have a plausible path to the nomination, ours and Donald Trump’s. Nobody else has any mathematical possibility whatsoever.”

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio

Rubio, who won only two primary contests in Minnesota and Puerto Rico, had been banking on a win in his home state. But Trump carried 46 percent to Rubio’s 27 percent, with Cruz at 17 percent and Ohio Governor John Kasich at 7 percent.

Speaking to supporters in Miami after the television networks called the race for Trump, Rubio said “it is clear that while we are on the right side, this year we will not be on the winning side.”

“The fact that I’ve even come this far is evidence of how special America is,” he said.

A short time later, Cruz saluted Rubio’s campaign effort and made a direct pitch for his voters.

“To those who supported Marco, who worked so hard, we welcome you with open arms,” Cruz said.

In North Carolina, Trump took 40 percent to 37 percent for Cruz, 13 percent for Kasich and 8 percent for Rubio.

In the Democratic primary in Florida, Clinton rolled up 65 percent, to 33 percent for U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. The race in North Carolina was closer, with Clinton at 55 percent and Sanders at 41 percent.

With those wins, Clinton has now taken 13 of the 14 Southern states, with only West Virginia left. Trump has taken 11, losing only Texas and Oklahoma to Cruz.

Voters in West Virginia go to the polls May 10.

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