Political Insider

An AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns. Because all politics is local.

Your guide to this weekend's presidential primaries

Louisiana primary (Saturday; 46 delegates for Republicans, 59 for Democrats)

This state borders Ted Cruz's Texas home, but could be more Donald Trump country. It is more Catholic than evangelical, and it's prone to electing people with big personalities (see Long, Huey). But it remains a quirky and unpredictable electorate. One factor in Cruz’s favor – Louisiana’s closed primary is confined to only registered Republicans.

On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders held a big rally in New Orleans as his candidacy caught fire this summer, but there is no reason to believe Hillary Clinton won’t dominate the heavily African-American electorate in Louisiana as she has across the South.

Polls: Trafalgar Group (March 1-2) – Trump 44, Cruz 26, Marco Rubio 15, John Kasich 5. Magellan Strategies (March 1) – Trump 41, Cruz 21, Rubio 15, Kasich 9; Clinton 61, Sanders 14. Public Policy Polling (Feb. 14-16) Clinton 60, Sanders 29.

Candidate visits: Kasich was in Metairie in late February. Trump was in New Orleans on Friday. Cruz was in Mandeville on Friday. Bill Clinton was in Baton Rouge on Thursday and New Orleans on Friday.

Links: Turnout is on track to be highest since the 1992 primary. Trump’s support appears strongest in the New Orleans area and weakest in southwest Louisiana. (Baton Rouge Advocate)

Trump’s New Orleans rally on Friday was a raucous affair interrupted repeatedly by protesters. (New Orleans Times-Picayune)

The background music to this campaign: Louisiana is in a fiscal crisis, with fingers pointing to former governor and presidential hopeful Bobby Jindal. (Washington Post)

Kansas caucuses (Saturday; 40 Republican delegates, 37 for Democrats)

Trump canceled his appearance at the CPAC conference – where he had been booed in absentia – for a final rally in Wichita on Saturday. Trump has been dismissive of caucuses, and has not done as well in them, so this is one where Cruz needs a win in the heavily evangelical state. Gov. Sam Brownback has endorsed Rubio, who canceled Louisiana and Kentucky appearances for more Kansas time. Still, polls show another Trumping likely.

This state presents an opportunity for Sanders, who has shown strength in the Midwest by winning Oklahoma and Minnesota and has done well in caucus states.

Polls: Trafalgar Group (March 2-3) – Trump 35, Cruz 29, Rubio 17, Kasich 13. Fort Hays State University (Feb. 19-26) – Trump 26, Cruz 14, Rubio 13, Kasich 3; Clinton 33, Sanders 23.

Candidate visits: Rubio was in Wichita, Topeka and Overland Park on Friday. Cruz was in Overland Park on Wednesday and is scheduled in Wichita today. Trump also is scheduled in Wichita today. Sanders was in college-town Lawrence on Thursday.

Links: Despite his media omnipresence and polling lead, Trump has no political presence in Kansas. (Kansas City Star)

After a swing through the state Friday, Rubio has spent more time in Kansas than any candidate this cycle. (Topeka Capital-Journal)

Kentucky GOP caucus (Saturday, 46 delegates)

A hybrid of the South and Appalachia, this state should play well for Trump. But, as discussed above, closed-format caucuses are not Trump’s strength -- and turnout is expected to be abysmal. The hometown boy Rand Paul has not endorsed since dropping out of the presidential race, though many of his prominent backers went to Cruz.

Polls: Western Kentucky University (Feb. 22-26) – Trump 35, Rubio 22, Cruz 15, Kasish 6.

Candidate visits: Trump was in Louisville on Tuesday.

Links: Republicans are worried about incredibly low turnout because the state changed from a May primary to a March caucus, and because no candidates have been sending mail or other communications to get out the vote. (Cincinnati Enquirer)

The change was an attempt to allow Paul to run for president and Senate at the same time, and both Paul and Republican leaders are feeling the backlash, amid missteps in administering the caucus. (Louisville Courier-Journal)

Maine caucuses (GOP Saturday, 23 delegates; Democrats Sunday, 30 delegates)

With little else to go on, close watchers see this state as reflective of its New England neighbors – meaning Trump has the big edge and Sanders has a shot. No candidate has invested significant resources here, which would seem to favor Trump’s free media-driven campaign, and the mogul rallied in the state Thursday.

Sanders has a mostly white electorate and a caucus, which works in his favor. He won nearby New Hampshire and Vermont but narrowly lost Massachusetts.

Polls: None.

Candidate visits: Trump was in Portland on Thursday. Cruz was in Orono on Friday. Sanders was in Portland on Wednesday.

Links: Gov. Paul LePage’s rise has some remarkable similarities to Trump’s. LePage endorsed Trump last week. (CNN)

There is little excitement on the ground about the campaign and results are hard to predict. (Boston Globe)

Nebraska Democratic caucus (Saturday, 30 delegates)

Like neighboring Kansas, this state offers an opportunity for a Sanders win because it is a mostly white caucus state. But the Clinton camp is hardly conceding it, and dispatched its top surrogate for the final push.

Polls: None.

Candidate visits: Sanders was in Lincoln on Thursday. Bill Clinton was in Lincoln and Omaha on Friday.

Links: Saturday’s result is unpredictable, and both campaigns seem confident. Turnout could top 2008, when Nebraska Democrats held their first caucus. (Lincoln Journal Star)

During Sanders’ visit, he went after Clinton on the Keystone XL pipeline – which will travel through Nebraska. (Omaha World-Herald)

Puerto Rico GOP primary (Sunday, 23 delegates)

Marco Rubio has devoted the most time to the island, with a visit Saturday following a trip there in September. With two Cuban-Americans and one candidate who has dished out harsh rhetoric on Mexicans, it will be interesting to see how the Puerto Rico electorate responds. Rubio has come out in favor of statehood for Puerto Rico but against allowing it to declare bankruptcy amid a fiscal crisis.

Polls: Nada.

Candidate visits: Rubio stumps Saturday in Toa Baja.

Links: Debt crisis looms over Puerto Rico primary. (Wall Street Journal)

Thousands of prison inmates voted early in the primary. (Fox News)

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