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Arizona, Utah Vote: Does Anything Change?

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AP Photo/John Locher
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People fill out ballots at a Democratic caucus site at Emerson Elementary school Tuesday, March 22, 2016, in Salt Lake City.

The seemingly never ending presidential election cycle marched forward last night.

Our neighbors Utah and Arizona voted in primaries and caucuses on both the Democratic and Republican sides.

Bernie Sanders won in Utah and Idaho, while Hillary Clinton won in Arizona. 

Nick Riccardi with the Associated Press told KNPR's State of Nevada that while it seems like a winning night for Sanders, in reality, Clinton could walk a way with more delegates.

“She did much better last night than I would have anticipated," he said. "You have to keep in mind that the top-line numbers don’t tell you the whole story when it comes to presidential nominating contests. Utah and Idaho were caucuses, so those were the hardest of the hardcore. And you would expect Bernie Sanders to win very handily there.” 

Riccardi said it will take massive wins in remaining caucuses and primaries for Sanders to secure the nomination, which he doesn't believe the senator from Vermont can pull off.

Riccardi said Sanders' loss in Arizona, where he spent a lot of time and money but still didn't win, is an example of why the prized California is out of reach. 

On the Republican side, Ted Cruz took Utah and Donald Trump took Arizona. 

Riccardi wasn't surprised by the results -- with one exception.

“I’m surprised that Cruz did as well as he did in Utah," Riccardi said. "Although, there was a lot of expectation that he would break 50 percent [of the vote]. He basically got 70 percent of the vote there.”

Riccardi said he knew from the moment Trump entered the race, he would not do well with Utah Republicans.  

“Trump is the antithesis of a lot of the way that Utah politics operates in that LDS voters, in particular, like to approach politics," he said. "They’re very, very conservative but they really prize politeness. They prize deep policy stuff. They prize open expressions of faith -- and not just expressions but people living by example of their faith.”

On the flip side, he was not surprised that Arizona Republican voters embraced Trump.

“Arizona was always going to be Trump country," he said, "just as Utah’s politics are kind of the antithesis to the Trump approach. The Trump approach perfectly matches what has been happening with Arizona politics, which has become increasingly populist, increasingly driven by immigration and the response to immigration.”

Trump gets all 58 of Arizona's delegates, which complicates any efforts by the GOP establishment to stop the businessman's march to the nomination.

Democrats now turn their attention to Alaska, Hawaii and Washington, which all vote Saturday, March 26.

For Republicans, the next big vote will be in Wisconsin on April 5. 

Nick Riccardi, Associated Press

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Casey Morell is the coordinating producer of Nevada Public Radio's flagship broadcast State of Nevada and one of the station's midday newscast announcers. (He's also been interviewed by Jimmy Fallon, whatever that's worth.)