Elections

Donald Trump posted a decisive victory Saturday night in South Carolina, a conservative state that on its face should have been inhospitable to the New York billionaire, but was anything but when voters went to the polls.

And Hillary Clinton pulled off a badly needed win in Nevada, besting Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders with an older, more diverse electorate in the state's caucuses.

As we dive into the entrance and exit polling data, here's four takeaways from the results.

1. Evangelical voters have faith in Donald Trump

Ryland Barton, Kentucky Public Radio

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul says that the Senate shouldn’t confirm an appointee to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Obama because it amounts to a “conflict of interest.”

The president has said he’ll nominate someone to fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last week.

This spring, the Supreme Court will take up a case concerning the legality of Obama’s executive orders that granted legal status to about 5 million people who entered the U.S. without documentation as children.

Paul, a Republican from Bowling Green, is crisscrossing Kentucky to drum up support for his reelection bid. On Friday, he stopped at Tonya’s Hometown Buffet in Lawrenceburg to speak to a crowd of about 50 supporters.

Citing the recent 5-4 Supreme Court ruling that halted Obama’s Clean Power Plan, Paul said that with the absence of Scalia, a sympathetic appointee would tip the scales in favor of the president’s immigration policies.

Kentucky Republicans have until Friday to request an absentee ballot for the March 5 presidential caucus. 

Ballot applications must be requested by February 19 and can be found on the state GOP website.  Absentee ballots must be returned to the Kentucky Republican Party headquarters by March 4.  Since this is the first caucus in Kentucky in more than three decades, Warren County Caucus Chairman David Graham says turnout is a concern.

"I think statewide we had only around 30 percent in our gubernatorial election, and sad to say, we'd be tickled to have 30 percent turnout at the caucus, but that's why we're getting out the word the best we can to make sure everyone's aware of it," Graham told WKU Public Radio.

Eleven GOP presidential candidates qualified for the Kentucky caucus, though several have already dropped out of the race, including Senator Rand Paul.  Their names will still appear on the pre-printed ballots.

The last time that Kentucky held a presidential caucus was in 1984 when both the Republican and Democratic parties participated.  This year, Kentucky Democrats will pick their presidential nominee in the regular May primary.

As the field of presidential contenders narrows, the Kentucky Republican Party is gearing up to make sure voters understand how to choose their candidate at next month’s caucus.  

The March 5 event is the first caucus held in the Bluegrass State in more than three decades.

The first requirement is that residents had to be registered to vote as a Republican by Dec. 31, 2015 in order to participate in the caucus.

Executive director of the Republican Party of Kentucky Mike Biagi says then it’s just a matter of finding the county caucus site.

In Thursday night's Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders — each with one nominating contest victory — looked ahead to the upcoming primaries in Nevada and South Carolina. Here are a few of the big takeaways from the debate.

1. A focus on African-American issues

(Note: Tonight's debate, moderated by PBS NewsHour anchors Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff, will be simulcast on CNN and NPR and streamed live on NPR.org. NPR's Tamara Keith will be part of the debate broadcast, providing analysis during and after the event.)

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton meet Thursday night on a debate stage in Milwaukee. It's their first face-to-face matchup since Tuesday's New Hampshire primary where Sanders beat Clinton by more than 20 points.

Tuesday night's New Hampshire primary offered little surprise in terms of who actually won: Donald Trump triumphed big on the GOP side, while Bernie Sanders crushed Hillary Clinton with Democratic voters, just as polls had predicted.

Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders won clear, early and decisive victories in the New Hampshire primary Tuesday night.

Trump beat the GOP field by double digits. He got 35 percent of the vote, well ahead of surprise second-place finisher John Kasich, who pulled in 16 percent. Kasich was followed by Ted Cruz at 12 percent, Jeb Bush at 11 percent and Marco Rubio, who, after a poor debate performance Saturday, faded to fifth just shy of 11 percent.

After Paul Bows Out, Some Kentucky Supporters Go To Rubio

Feb 9, 2016
Flickr/Creative Commons/Marc Nozell

Some of Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul’s top supporters in the state legislature are endorsing Marco Rubio ahead of the state’s Republican presidential caucus next month.

State party leaders scheduled a presidential caucus for March 5 so that Paul could avoid a state law banning candidates from running for two offices at the same time.

But Paul ended his presidential campaign last week after a poor showing in the Iowa caucuses and will instead focus on his Senate re-election.

NPR: Five Things to Know Ahead of the New Hampshire Primary

Most of Kentucky’s Republican elected officials had not publicly supported a candidate out of respect for Paul. On Monday, Rubio’s campaign announced 24 state lawmakers endorsed him.

They include state Rep. Jeff Hoover, the top Republican in the Kentucky House, and state Sen. Ralph Alvarado, who introduced Paul at his presidential campaign kickoff rally last year.

With the Iowa caucuses in the books, the focus of the political world has shifted to the first-in-the-nation-primary state, New Hampshire. New Hampshire voters, with their contrarian reputation, head to the polls Tuesday. Expect the unexpected.

Here are five things to know about how it all works:

1. Voting is straightforward

Gage Skidmore via Flickr Creative Commons

Kentucky’s March Republican presidential caucus won’t feature an active candidate from the Bluegrass State.

Senator Rand Paul announced Wednesday that he is ending his run for the White House.

The move came two days after Paul’s fifth-place finish in the Iowa caucuses.

“Although, today I will suspend my campaign for President, the fight is far from over,” Paul said in statement released to the media Wednesday morning. “I will continue to carry the torch for Liberty in the United States Senate and I look forward to earning the privilege to represent the people of Kentucky for another term."

The Paul campaign helped convince the Kentucky Republican Party to hold a presidential caucus in March instead of its normal May primary, so that Paul could run for both the White House and re-election to the U.S. Senate.

NPR: Why Rand Paul Failed to Capture the Libertarian Movement

Paul’s exit from presidential contest a month before the Kentucky caucus will likely raise questions about the maneuver.

Abbey Oldham

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is suspending his presidential campaign.

The Bowling Green Republican released a statement to the media Wednesday morning announcing the move.

"Although, today I will suspend my campaign for President, the fight is far from over," Paul said in his statement. "I will continue to carry the torch for Liberty in the United States Senate and I look forward to earning the privilege to represent the people of Kentucky for another term."

The decision comes two days after Paul finished a distant fifth in the Iowa GOP Caucus.

The Republican Party of Kentucky is holding a presidential caucus March 5 so that Paul could run for both the White House and another U.S. Senate term at the same time.

Paul's move to quit the presidential race means he can concentrate on his Senate re-election effort. He faces two little-known Republican primary challengers. Seven Democrats are running for the seat, including Lexington Mayor Jim Gray.

Donald Trump thought he could upend Iowa caucus traditions. The gamble didn't pay off.

Hillary Clinton hoped she could wipe away her campaign nightmares of eight years ago by posting a solid win over an insurgent Bernie Sanders.

Instead, her margin of victory over Sanders was vanishingly small.

Those were just some of the surprise twists from Monday night's results. Here's what the numbers and results tell us about how and why they happened, according to our analysis of the entrance/exit polling and the county-by-county results.

WFPL News

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky placed fifth in the Iowa Republican Caucuses on Monday, raising further questions about the viability of his presidential campaign and when he might divert his attention to defending his Senate seat in earnest.

Paul’s attention has been primarily focused on the presidential race, in which he has fallen from being “the most interesting man in politics,” as proclaimed last year by Time magazine, to sharing a tiny piece of the Republican electorate dominated by frontrunners Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.

Paul gained 4.5 percent of the vote in the Iowa Republican Caucuses. Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas, won the Iowa caucuses ahead of businessman Donald Trump.

Iowa Caucus Results: 6 Things That Explain How It Happened

But Paul will face two Republican challengers in the May U.S. Senate primary election. More daunting is the General election, where he’ll likely square off against Democratic Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, a wealthy businessman.

In just over a month, Kentucky Republicans will hold a presidential caucus for the first time in more than three decades. Republicans in the past have joined Democrats in holding a May primary election for president. But this year is different.

Warren County Caucus Chairman David Graham spoke to WKU Public Radio about the differences between a caucus and primary.

Graham:  Caucuses can be very different, but in our case, it's going to be very much like a primary, only it will be at a different date, and it will be run by the party and not the county or state.  Our caucus will be March 5.  Most every county will have one voting location and voters can come in anytime between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. and vote very much like they would in a normal primary.

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