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• Arizona, Utah split reveals depth of GOP divide
• Trump looks to calm conservatives with Supreme Court shortlist
• Bernie faces sunset out west
• What President Clinton meant to say…
• You’re hired
ARIZONA, UTAH SPLIT REVEALS DEPTH OF GOP DIVIDE
You could hardly have a better microcosm of the remaking – or perhaps unmaking – of the Republican Party than today’s contests in Utah and Arizona.
Frontrunner Donald Trump is expected to crush his last credible rival for the Republican nomination, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in Arizona while Cruz is expected to wallop Trump in Utah.
The difference is reflective of a deepening divide inside the Republican Party between conservatives and populists, the religious right and Trump’s secular supporters and, most of all, on the primacy of the issue of immigration.
If you want to understand the chasm between the two, even a cursory look at the voters in Utah and Arizona tells the tale.
Arizona, which ranks in the bottom third of states when it comes to adults with high school diplomas and has an average household income well below the national average, has been ravaged by the ill effects of illegal immigration and the incapacity of the system to deal with even legal immigration.
High unemployment, crime and stagnant economic growth have left the state in tough times and ethnic tensions have been pronounced. In short, this is the state where voters have long been waiting for a candidate like Trump.
Trump’s only weakness is that the primary is only open to Republican voters, meaning his stalwart Democratic supporters won’t be able to come out for him without actually switching parties. And within the GOP itself there are deep strains of traditional conservatism. After all, Sen. John McCain is expected to win his fifth Republican nomination this summer.
Goldwater country is hardly the place where one would have previously expected Trumpism to triumph. But with the state’s hard times and the massive scale of immigration disruption, the state’s Republicans look ready to go for the personification of the nuclear option.
Utah is a very different place.
The Beehive State is one of America’s greatest success stories of the past generation. It has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, has among the highest median household incomes and ranks in the top 10 for adults with high-school diplomas. It’s also a fast-growing state with the nation’s youngest population on average.
Utah also happens to be one of the most conservative states in the country. It was Obama's worst state in 2012, with the president getting less than a quarter of the vote. Utah has an all-Republican congressional delegation and hasn’t elected a Democratic governor since 1980.
This stalwart Republicanism can be attributed to the fact that about 60 percent of the state is Mormon. The traditional Republican stances on being pro-business and socially conservative have dovetailed well with the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
And as we have seen around the country, many self-described evangelical Christians support Trump, but the GOP frontrunner actually fares poorly among those voters who most faithfully attend worship services.
But there’s more at work here than just Mormonism.
While Arizona has all the hallmarks of Trump’s coalition – struggling, downscale white voters living in a state of immigration chaos and ethnic tension – Utah has all the marks of the other GOP. It is prosperous, growing, conservative and without any recent history of ethnic strife (the state is 91 percent white). That adds up to what could be a searing rebuke of Trump.
This divide between two neighboring states highlights the depth of the divide inside the GOP and the kind of conflict we expect to see play out every day between here and the Republican National Convention.
[Watch Fox: Bret Baier and the AEHQ team brings you the latest as the results roll in tonight.]
--58 total delegates
--510,258 total ballots cast in 2012
--Mitt Romney, 47 percent; Rick Santorum, 27 percent; Newt Gingrich, 16 percent; Ron Paul, 9 percent
--Polls close at 10 p.m. ET
--If one candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote he receives all the delegates, otherwise proportional with a 15 percent threshold
--242,272 total ballots cast in 2012 (primary not a caucus)
--Mitt Romney, 93 percent; Ron Paul 5 percent (voted June 26, 2012)
--Caucus convenes at 9 p.m. ET
Trump looks to calm conservatives with Supreme Court shortlist - Daily Caller: “Donald Trump announced Monday that he plans to publicly release a list of 7 to 10 ‘conservative’ judges that ‘meet the highest standards’ that he would appoint to the Supreme Court if elected president. ‘I’m going to submit a list of justices, potential justices of the United States Supreme Court, that I will appoint from the list,’ Trump said. ‘I won’t go beyond the list, and I’m going to let people know. Because some people say maybe I’ll appoint a liberal judge. I’m not appointing a liberal judge.’”
Cruz plays convention strategy - WSJ: “Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign has been operating an under-the-radar effort to prepare for a contested Republican convention this summer, and those moves appear to be bearing fruit in places such as this Atlanta exurb. Though front-runner Donald Trump carried Georgia’s Coweta County by 12 percentage points three weeks ago, it was Cruz supporters who dominated an early stage of the arcane process of choosing the people who will serve as delegates at the Republican National Convention. The goal: If Mr. Trump doesn’t win on the first ballot—freeing most delegates from voting for the candidate who won their state’s primary or caucus—Cruz supporters would dominate the convention, paving the way for the Texas senator to win the nomination on a later vote.”
[GOP delegate count: Trump 680; Cruz 424; Kasich 143 (1,237 needed to win)]
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE…
Parrots are known for being intelligent animals, but new research shows their mimicking ability is far from their only unique trait. NYT: “Dr. [Irene] Pepperberg and her collaborators have shown that African grey parrots have exceptional number skills: Alex [a parrot they studied] could deduce the proper order of numbers up to 8, add three small numbers together and even had a zerolike concept —‘skills equivalent to those of a four-and-a-half-year-old child,’ Dr. Pepperberg said. Dr. [Alice] Auersperg and her co-workers have found that Goffin’s cockatoos are more geared toward solving technical tasks. Alternately using their bills and feet, the birds can systematically make their way through a lock with five different complex mechanisms on it… ‘It took [one cockatoo] 20 minutes to make his first tool,’ Dr. Auersperg said. ‘After that, he could do it in less than five minutes.’”
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Real Clear Politics Averages
National GOP nomination: Trump 40 percent; Cruz 27.4 percent; Kasich 18.6 percent
National Dem nomination: Clinton 50.8 percent; Sanders 43.8 percent
General Election: Clinton vs. Trump: Clinton +9.8 points
Generic Congressional Vote: Democrats +1
BERNIE FACES SUNSET OUT WEST
Politico: “This was supposed to be the beginning of Bernie Sanders’ comeback. But if the Vermont senator fails to win the big prize Tuesday — Arizona, where polls show him facing a double-digit deficit — his expected string of victories in the caucus states that follow won’t make a dent in Hillary Clinton’s daunting delegate lead, or erase the impression that his campaign can’t win in states with diverse Democratic electorates. Still, after losing all five March 15 contests, the primary calendar is suddenly looking better for Sanders. Two of the three states voting Tuesday are in his wheelhouse — Idaho and Utah, both largely white states holding caucuses. Then, on Saturday, come three more Western caucus states where the Vermont senator could run the table.”
Hillary’s coalition stays strong - CBS News: “Hillary Clinton now leads Bernie Sanders by five points nationally, 50 percent to 45 percent, ahead by slightly less than last month [in a new CBS/NYT poll]. Clinton continues to lead among women and has a sizable lead among voters over age 45. She also leads among Democrats and non-white voters. As he has in the voting contests this year, Sanders gets strong support from younger voters and independents. But Sanders has made inroads since last month among some groups in which Clinton dominates: women and Democrats. While he still loses to Clinton among both, his support among women and Democrats has risen 8 points since February. The race is close among white voters, as it was last month.”
What President Clinton meant to say… - Fox News: “Former President Bill Clinton slammed what he called the ‘awful legacy of the last eight years’ during a campaign appearance for his wife, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, in Washington state Monday. Clinton made the remarks at an event in Spokane ahead of Saturday’s Washington state Democratic caucuses. ‘If you believe we’ve finally come to the point where we can put the awful legacy of the last eight years behind us,’ Clinton said, ‘and the seven years before that when we were practicing trickle-down economics and no regulation in Washington, which is what caused the crash, then you should vote for her.’ … [A] Clinton spokesman told USA Today that the former president was referring to Republicans in Congress with his ‘awful legacy’ remark.”
Bernie knocks Israel in speech meant for AIPAC - USA Today: “Sen. Bernie Sanders ripped the Israeli government for its recent seizure of land in the West Bank during a speech Monday intended for the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference. The Vermont independent, the only presidential candidate who did not speak at AIPAC’s conference Monday, said during a campaign stop in Salt Lake City, Utah, that friends must be ‘honest and truthful’ about differences they may have, and the U.S. must be a friend to not only Israel, but to the Palestinians, as well.”
[Dem delegate count: Clinton 1630; Sanders 870 (2,383 needed to win)]
AP: “A job interview was in progress when a thief grabbed cash from the till at a fast food restaurant. The manager conducting the interview then blocked the door, and the applicant grabbed the thief’s arms. Eighteen-year-old Devin Washington got the robber — and the job — at a Popeyes Famous Fried Chicken restaurant in eastern New Orleans…Manager Danyanna Metoyer said the robber asked the cashier to change a dollar Saturday afternoon, ‘and just reached over the counter and stuck his hand in the change drawer’ … Metoyer said she …already had decided to hire Washington, but hadn’t had a chance to tell him when the theft occurred. She said they told him afterward, ‘You’re hired. You earned it.’”
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.
Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as digital politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily "Fox News First" political news note and hosts "Power Play," a feature video series, on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on the network, including "The Kelly File," "Special Report with Bret Baier," and "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace." He also provides expert political analysis for Fox News coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.