Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) won Utah’s Republican caucus on Tuesday, notching a victory over businessman Donald Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Cruz won with more than 50 percent of the vote, allowing him to take all of the state’s 40 delegates. If he’d taken less than a majority, the delegates would have been allocated proportionally to candidates winning more than 15 percent.
Pre-election polling showed Cruz far outpacing his rivals, but his path to a clear majority was made more difficult by Kasich, who campaigned vigorously in the state.
In many ways, Utah represented an ideal battleground for Cruz. Rather than holding a primary, as it has in past years, the state switched to a caucus format, which was conducted in part using online voting. Caucuses have tended to favor the Cruz campaign’s ability to turn out voters. Most of his previous wins came in caucus states, including Iowa, Alaska, Kansas and Maine.
Also benefiting Cruz was Utah’s many Mormon voters, who tend to favor both more temperate discourse and moderate immigration policies. Members of the religion are considerably more supportive of a path to citizenship than most Republicans.
Mormons are also wary of Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints formally, if implicitly, denounced his call to bar Muslims from entering the country, issuing a statement in December about the importance of religious freedom and pluralism.