Cruz and Sanders the big winners on 'Super Saturday,' but it might not matter

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GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz spoke in West Des Moines the night before the Iowa caucuses | Senior Photographer Amanda Suarez

Days after winning seven states on Super Tuesday, 1968 Wharton graduate Donald Trump ran into a familiar foe: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

The Texas senator has held firm to the notion that he is the candidate Republicans should rally around to defeat Trump. Saturday's results — where Cruz convincingly won the Kansas and Maine caucuses — may just prove him right. 

"To all of the people who were supporting other candidates, who've come now to join together and stand united," Cruz said at a speech in Boise, Idaho on Saturday night, "I say to each of you: welcome." 

Cruz nearly took a majority of votes in Kansas, where he finished with 48.2 percent of the vote, nearly 25 points ahead of Trump. In Maine, he notched 45 percent of the vote, still a double-digit lead ahead of the New York real estate mogul. Both states use caucuses, which tend to siphon the electorate toward more partisan sides and favor candidates like Cruz, who has developed a sound grassroots organizing campaign in the South and Midwest. 

While Trump won Louisiana and Kentucky, Cruz finished a close second in both states. Even Trump admitted as much.

“I want Ted, one on one," Trump told a crowd assembled in West Palm Beach, Florida.

The next major contest on the Republican calendar is March 15, when delegates will start being awarded in some states on a winner-take-all-basis. If Trump can win in Florida and Ohio, it would set him firmly on the path to the 1,237 delegates needed for the nomination.

On the Democratic side, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) won two states (Kansas and Nebraska) to Hillary Clinton's one (Louisiana), but still faces a daunting battle to overcome some troubling electorate math.

Sanders won in two caucus states, Kansas and Nebraska, with mostly white voters. Clinton cruised to victory in Louisiana, another state home to large swaths of nonwhite voters. 

The Vermont senator has shown that he can mobilize Democrats to vote against Clinton, but his appeal has yet to markedly cross racial lines. Combined with Clinton's nearly 600-strong delegate lead, Sanders needs some strong wins in coming weeks to remain competitive. 

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