Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are aiming to widen their advantage in the Republican and Democratic presidential races in five states on a “Super Saturday” of primaries and caucuses.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, meanwhile, is hoping to add to his four wins to bolster his argument that he is the only Republican who can stop Trump. The day started well for Cruz — CNN is projecting that Cruz will win the Kansas Republican caucuses.
Early indications were that voting in Kansas particularly was brisk. Reports from dozens of county locations indicate that Republican turnout was often four or five times that of 2012 and growing, said state party chair Kelly Arnold.
The new round of voting comes amid an uproar in the Republican Party over the increasing likelihood that Trump will emerge as the GOP nominee. The party appears on the verge of tearing itself apart over the prospect. Mitt Romney, the GOP’s 2012 nominee, and other party elders launched an unprecedented effort this week to thwart Trump’s campaign.
Clinton, meanwhile, is looking to further cement her lead over her challenger Bernie Sanders, though the Vermont senator will be encouraged by the fact that the contests in Kansas and Nebraska are caucuses, a format in which he has tended to perform better than primaries during the 2016 campaign.
The “Super Saturday” contests offer a chance for the two front-runners to quicken their momentum after they both came out of the Super Tuesday contests last week with solid delegate leads. They still face major battles in crucial elections in Michigan, Ohio and Florida over the coming weeks.
The races Saturday will test whether there’s any fallout from a wild week in Republican politics, which included Romney’s attacks on Trump and a raucous Fox News debate in which the candidates mostly yelled over one another and Trump boasted about the size of his genitals.
They may also highlight the strength of Cruz’s political organization. Kansas and Maine hold caucuses, a format which has sometimes been a challenge for Trump.
Cruz also got a morale boost from the gathering of activists at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), where he won the annual straw poll ahead of Rubio and Trump, the latter of whom decided to snub the event at the last minute to campaign in Kansas on Saturday.
Louisiana political analyst Silas Lee told CNN on Saturday that his state could reflect the underlying trends shaping the wider Republican race.
“It looks like Louisiana will follow the trends with the previous results from Super Tuesday, whereby Clinton will win by a significant margin,” Lee said. “With the Republicans, it looks like Trump.”
Clinton has a lead of about 200 pledged delegates over Sanders, while Trump leads Cruz by around 100 delegates and is about 200 delegates ahead of the third place candidate Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.
Polling in most of Saturday’s contests has been sketchy, though on the Republican side, Trump has led most of the surveys that do exist and has undeniable momentum after Super Tuesday.
The billionaire took to Twitter on Saturday ahead of a day of campaigning in Kansas and Florida, after stopping in Louisiana on Friday night.
“This is a movement like our GREAT COUNTRY has never seen before!” Trump tweeted.
Saturday’s voting also offers yet another chance for Rubio and Cruz to try to build a comeback as they attempt to deprive Trump of the nomination. The other remaining GOP candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, is concentrating on his own state ahead of its crucial winner-takes-all election on March 15.
A Cruz campaign official, meanwhile, told CNN’s Sunlen Serfaty that the Texas senator’s camp was “optimistic” about adding to his delegate tally across the night’s contests and of widening the gap to Rubio.
Saturday’s clashes between Clinton and Sanders, and a Democratic caucus in Maine on Sunday, will set the stage for the CNN Democratic debate on Sunday night in Flint, Michigan. The state also holds Republican and Democratic primaries on Tuesday.
CNN’s Mary Rose Fox contributed to this report.