Arizona's presidential preference poll comes down to Tuesday voting
PHOENIX (AP) - After a frenzied weekend of raucous campaign rallies across the state, it's finally election day. Arizona voters go to the polls in the presidential preference election Tuesday.
Will establishment Republicans trying to halt businessman Donald Trump's ride to the party nomination be able to slow him down in Arizona? And will former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton be able to stave off populist support for fellow Democrat Bernie Sanders to continue her path to the nomination?
Trump has made Arizona a focus of his campaign since last summer, when a massive Phoenix rally showed his strength among party grassroots voters, much to the dismay of the traditional party leaders. He has focused on border security issues that are perennial vote-getters among conservatives in the state to help boost his national campaign.
But he'll be facing voters for the first time in a slimmed-down field of candidates that doesn't include Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and instead puts him head-to-head with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for those border-hawk voters. For his part, Cruz toured the border Friday with former candidates Carly Fiorina and Rick Perry in a last-minute bid for votes.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich largely focused on Utah in his upstart effort to derail Trump's candidacy in the weekend leading up to Tuesday's primary, essentially leaving Cruz and Trump to slug it out in Arizona for the win.
Whoever gets the majority of Arizona's Republican votes Tuesday controls all the state's GOP delegates, at least through the first vote at July's party convention.
The only major poll in the state shows Trump well in the lead, but it was taken before Rubio's exit last Tuesday. But the survey conducted March 7-11 by longtime Arizona pollster Bruce Merrill showed nearly a third of voters remained undecided. Already, about half of Maricopa County voters who took out early ballots had returned them, limiting the effectiveness of last-minute campaigning.