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Huge Minnesota caucus turnouts give Rubio his only Super Tuesday win; Sanders beats Clinton

On a night when Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton won big in other states, Minnesota went its own way. 

With more than 86 percent of the DFL votes tallied, Sanders won with 62 percent of the vote to Clinton's 38 percent.
MinnPost photo by Bill Kelley

Huge caucus turnouts in Minnesota Tuesday night brought notable wins for Sens. Marco Rubio and Bernie Sanders — along with long lines for voters and serious logistical problems for the state’s two major parties.

It was Rubio’s first win in the lead-up to the Republican presidential nomination, giving him a small gasp of hope as frontrunner Donald Trump pulls further ahead in the race.

Trump finished third in Minnesota, but kept up his national momentum with wins in seven other Super Tuesday states: Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia.

Sen. Ted Cruz won three states: Alaska, Texas and Oklahoma.  

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Sanders kept his campaign alive with the win in Minnesota and three other states — Vermont, Oklahoma and Colorado — but Clinton continued to add delegates to her total.

With 97 percent of the vote reported in the Minnesota Republican race, Rubio had 37 percent, Cruz 29 percent and Trump 21 percent. Also getting votes were Ben Carson, with 7 percent, and Gov. John Kasich, with 6.

With more than 86 percent of the DFL votes tallied, Sanders won with 62 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 38 percent.

The delegate count

Both parties will allocate their delegates to the national conventions this summer in proportion to last night’s results.

The Minnesota GOP Party will send 38 delegates to the convention; 24 will be allocated according to the results in the state’s eight congressional districts; the other 14 will be apportioned according to statewide results.

This afternoon, GOP officials announced the allocation: Rubio, 17 delegates, Cruz, 13 and Trump, 8.

DFLers have 93 delegates to the Democratic National Convention; 77 will be allocated according to the Tuesday caucus results. Sixteen more are superdelegates — party leaders and elected officials — who are not bound by Tuesday’s results.

Sanders won in each of the eight congressional districts, and with his win, will get more of the allocated delegates, but Clinton will get a large share, too, especially when the superdelegates are added. An AP delegate tracker reported early Wednesday gives Sanders 43 delegates and Clinton 35.

Many DFL leaders in the state have supported Clinton (the only top elected official to support Sanders has been Rep. Keith Ellison), but DFL Chair Martin congratulated Sanders for his strong campaign in the state, saying the Vermont senator was a delight to work with.

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Sanders had visited the state three times in the last few days. Clinton was here Tuesday, hours before caucuses began.

In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, Sanders said in a statement:

“Tonight, voters in Colorado, Oklahoma and Minnesota have joined the people of Vermont in showing America that a political revolution is spreading across our country, that people want to take on the billionaire class and make our government work for all Americans and not just the top 1 percent.”

Big turnout causes headaches

Minnesota GOP Chairman Keith Downey and DFL Chairman Ken Martin both applauded the large turnout throughout the state. Downey said that the large numbers led to a long night, but said it’s a nice problem for a party leader to have.

The tight national races in both parties brought out large numbers of caucus-goers, leading to long lines, heavy traffic, limited parking and, in some cases, not enough presidential preference ballots. In a few precincts, officials reportedly tore sheets from legal pads and used other pieces of paper for makeshift ballots.

KSTP-TV political reporter Tom Hauser tweeted last night: “My daughter reports she gave up trying to vote at a U of M caucus. Arrived 20 minutes early, waited 2 hours … was on verge of frostbite.” And he wrote: “Says they were going to let people vote after 8 … but the line was so long she had to go home to study.”

More than 113,000 people attended the state’s Republican caucuses, breaking the attendance record of about 65,000 in 2008.

DFL officials said their attendance didn’t appear to reach that of 2008, when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were fighting for the nomination, though it wasn’t far off. Officials said this year’s attendance at DFL caucuses was more than 185,000.