In Kentucky’s first-ever Republican Caucus voters embraced the idea of political change and gave Donald Trump a victory Saturday.
While the statewide results for the top two candidates were close, McCreary County voters overwhelmingly favored Trump over Ted Cruz and other contenders for the Presidential nomination.
More than 54 percent of local voters endorsed the often outspoken and controversial candidate, while only 25.71 checked off Ted Cruz’ name on the ballot. Marco Rubio (9.84 percent), John Kasich (8.27) and Ben Carson (1.19) came in third through fifth respectively. While still appearing on the ballot, but not running for President anymore, Mike Huckabee (4), Jeb Bush (3) and Rand Paul (2) all received local votes. Four uncommitted votes were cast as well.
1,329 county Republicans attended the caucus, held at McCreary County Middle School on Saturday, about 17.46 percent of registered party members at the time of the election.
Voter turnout was a little below what was seen during last year’s General Election, when 19.1 percent of McCreary County voters and 21.4 percent of Republicans went to the polls. In the Primary election last spring, only 12.3 percent of registered Republicans voted.
Statewide the overall results were similar, just a lot closer than local numbers showed.
Trump bested Cruz by just under 9,000 votes in Kentucky as a whole – pulling 35.92 percent of the vote, to Cruz’ 31.57 percent.
Marco Rubio finished third in polling with 16.36 percent of total votes, just ahead of Kasich with 14.36 percent.
With the win Trump gained 17 Kentucky delegates in his race to 1,237 to clinch the Republican nomination, while Cruz earned 15. Rubio and Kasich gained 7 each. Following Super Saturday, where Trump won in Kentucky and Louisiana, while Cruz won Kansas and Maine: Trump held a 385 to 300 -delegate lead.
Trump won 79 Kentucky counties to Cruz’ 41, with most of the second-place finisher’s wins coming from northern and western parts of the state.
McCreary County Caucus Chairperson Jessica Burke said she was very pleased with how the process went Saturday and with the turnout.
“I think it went incredibly well,” Burke said. “The people were well informed and we had a steady flow all day.”
“The turnout was great, we actually had a higher turnout than the 2015 Primary election.”
Burke said there were minor issues Saturday, namely citizens wanting to vote who were confused about their registration, but those problems were handled and the people were understanding after receiving an explanation.
As to the possible future of the Kentucky Caucus, Burke said it was too early to tell if the Kentucky Republican Party would opt to continue with the format in future elections.
“We still need to analyze the whole thing to see if we wish to continue, and that should take a while.”