Hawaii Republicans hand Trump another victory

Web Extra: Full interview with presidential candidate John Kasich
Published: Mar. 9, 2016 at 1:41 AM HST|Updated: Mar. 9, 2016 at 5:45 PM HST
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A line of voters snaked out the door at Kapolei Elementary School. (Image: Dave...
A line of voters snaked out the door at Kapolei Elementary School. (Image: Dave Hockney/Instagram)
(Image: John Cando/Twitter)
(Image: John Cando/Twitter)
(Image: Keoki808/Twitter)
(Image: Keoki808/Twitter)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - On a night with big turnout, Republican front-runner Donald Trump won Hawaii's Republican presidential caucus handily Tuesday.

He was declared the winner well before all the votes were counted.

With all precincts reporting, Trump got 42 percent of the vote, while Cruz had 33 percent. Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio and Ohio Governor John Kasich were in third and fourth place, respectively.

The Hawaii victory was Trump's third of the night. He also won Michigan and Mississippi, further solidifying his lead in the Republican pack.

Hawaii Republican officials said there was high turnout across the state, with voters encountering long lines at a number of polling sites. More than 13,300 people cast their ballots, but the final tally won't be determined until Wednesday morning.

That's more than 3,000 more people than voted in the 2012 Republican caucus.

The big turnout translated into longer-than-usual waits at polling places, and some concern over whether there were enough ballots.

About 7:15 p.m., less than an hour before the polls were due to close, Ala Wai Elementary School ran out of ballots and the Republican party had to print out 100 extra copies for voters still in line. At Kapolei Middle School, the line snaked out the door and past the parking lot. At Kalani High, people started gathering well before the doors opened.

And some 200 people were in line at Enchanted Lake Elementary School in Kailua when voting started.

At GOP headquarters in Kakaako, volunteers and staff fielded hundreds of phone calls from interested voters, overwhelming the party's voicemail system that maxed out with 50 messages Tuesday.

Marcia Tagavilla, the executive director of the Hawaii GOP, said the party had supplied plenty of extra ballots at the state's 45 voting locations.

"We took our counts from last time and we tripled them," Tagavilla said. "Every location got triple what they got in 2012. Yeah, so we should hopefully be prepared."

Voting ran from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, but anyone in line to vote at 8 p.m. was allowed to vote.

In 2012, when 10,228 people voted in the GOP Hawaii presidential caucus, 45 percent of the vote went to Mitt Romney and 25 percent to Rick Santorum.

The vote totals four years ago set a record, but GOP officials were certain this year's totals would be even higher because of Donald Trump's candidacy.

HNN Political Analyst Colin Moore, a political science professor at UH Manoa, said that a divisive candidate like Trump brings out his supporters and "the people who would be horrified if he won the nomination."

There were 19 delegates up for grabs in Hawaii's caucus..

Trump spoke with Hawaii News Now on Tuesday, saying that he has a big advantage in Hawaii because he travels to the state frequently and has friends and employees in the islands.

On Monday, Rubio (who ran political ads in the islands) and Kasich also made time for local media interviews, weighing in on issues of Hawaii importance and saying that the state could capture some national spotlight with its Republican caucus, depending on how it votes.

Hawaii is not a winner-take-all state. Hawaii's delegate votes to the Republican convention are allocated proportionally, with the percentage broken down based on how Hawaii Republicans vote at the caucuses.

Hawaii's Democratic caucus is March 26.

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