Facing no active opposition, Donald Trump easily won the Republican presidential primary in Washington state Tuesday, inching him closer to the magic number of 1,237 delegates necessary to wrap up the GOP nomination.
With 70 percent of precincts reporting, Trump had garnered 76 percent of the vote. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich each earned 10 percent of the vote, while retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson earned 4 percent of the vote. In all, approximately 115,000 votes out of 482,000 were cast for former Trump rivals.
Trump’s convincing victory came days after Washington state’s GOP convention awarded 40 of its 41 elected delegate slots to Cruz supporters. However, under party rules, each delegate is bound to the primary results for the first round of voting at the national convention.
Republicans in Washington were to allocate all 44 delegates to this summer’s national convention in Cleveland based on the primary results. Trump had secured at least 27 delegates as of late Tuesday, leaving him 41 short of the number needed to clinch the nomination.
Trump is expected to easily secure the nomination on June 7, when GOP contests are held in California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota, with a total of 303 delegates at stake.
Washington has both a presidential primary and a caucus system. But Democrats will ignore the results of Tuesday’s primary, which frontrunner Hillary Clinton was projected to win, having chosen to use the party caucus system to allocate their national convention delegates.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders handily won the Washington Democratic caucuses in March, receiving 74 delegates to the national convention in Philadelphia to Clinton’s 27.
Cornell Clayton, director of the Foley Institute for Public Policy at Washington State University, said even though the Democratic primary is nothing more than a poll, there’s still value for the campaign that prevails.
“They’re going to tout this as the will of the people,” he said.
Clinton is just 78 delegates short of clinching the Democratic nomination for president. She is on track to do so in early June, even if she loses all the remaining contests.
When superdelegates are included, Clinton has 2,305 delegates and Sanders has 1,539. It takes 2,383 delegates to win the Democratic nomination.
About 1.3 million voters had already sent in their ballots prior to Tuesday’s election. Election officials said that as of Tuesday evening, 31 percent of voters have returned their ballot. There are more than 4 million registered voters in Washington state, who can either vote by mail or by dropping their ballot at an election drop box.
The record number of presidential primary ballots counted in Washington was nearly 1.4 million in 2008, according to the secretary of state’s office. The record percentage return was 42.6 in 2000. Both of those elections were held in February. Under state law, the presidential primary is held on the fourth Tuesday of May, unless the parties agree to change it, which they did in both of those years.
Last year, Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman pushed to have this year’s primary moved to March, but the move, opposed by Democrats, failed to get the two-thirds vote required by the Presidential Primary Date Selection Committee.
The inevitability of the Republican race doesn’t sit well with some voters who say they are not ready to support Trump.
Daniel Emborg said Tuesday he voted for Cruz. Emborg, who was depositing his ballot at a drop box in Everett, said if Trump is the GOP nominee, he will vote for a third-party candidate.
However, Tom Lasswell said he voted for Trump because “you need to instigate change.”
“I like Ted Cruz, but I believe Donald Trump can pull this together, and I’m willing to give him a chance,” he said.