Projection: Trump Wins Mississippi, Fending Off Cruz Challenge

March 8, 2016 8:30 p.m.

Donald Trump is projected to win the Mississippi GOP primary Tuesday, fending off the challenge from Ted Cruz. His victory is a blow to the Stop Trump efforts that were hoping Cruz’s regional appeal would be enough to block Trump there.

Trump’s victory was called by the networks at about 8:30 p.m. EST, 30 minutes after the polls closed.

AP exit polling found that Trump won most voters who said they were looking for a political outsider, a group that made up nearly 6 in 10 of voters. Trump also won about half the voters who said they were worried about the direction of the economy. Those voters made up eight in 10 of primary voters.

Trump was polling well above Cruz and the other candidates heading into the primary. Trump has been able to more or less sweep the South; however, a surge of late deciding voters in Louisiana put Cruz in striking distance of Trump in the primary there Saturday, giving Cruz supporters hope for Mississippi.

Cruz earned the endorsement of Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryan. He also hosted an event in the state Monday, while “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson stumped for his campaign.

Trump meanwhile got the endorsement of Charles Evers, the brother of civil rights leader Medgar Evers, who was assassinated in Mississippi 1963. His campaign held a rally in the state this week.

Mississippi has 40 delegates at stake in its winner-take-most contest. Trump’s win puts him that much closer to the 1,237 delegates he needs to win the nomination. If a non-Trump candidate does not emerge to take Trump head on, GOP elites have also floated a contested convention to give them the opportunity to thwart Trump through a nomination floor fight.

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