WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US Republican front runner Donald Trump and Democratic favourite Hillary Clinton swept to victory in Arizona on Tuesday (March 22) as states in the American West weighed in on the 2016 presidential race.
But Republican Ted Cruz and Democrat Bernie Sanders won the Utah caucus, according to US media reports.
Mr Trump, the anti-Washington figure who has riled establishment Republicans, easily defeated his two rivals for the Republican presidential nomination, US Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Governor John Kasich, US television networks projected.
On the Democratic side, Mrs Clinton stretched her advantage in the Democratic contest by winning Arizona, routing Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
The contests in Arizona and Utah were overshadowed by attacks in Brussels that left at least 30 people dead, and added to security concerns that American voters have expressed to pollsters.
Long lines of voters were reported in both states.
Mr Trump, the New York billionaire and former reality TV star, has ridden an anti-Washington message to become the favourite for the nomination. This has left a flagging anti-Trump effort with faint hopes of stopping him at the Republican national convention in July.
In Arizona, which is one of the US states that borders Mexico, Mr Trump’s hardline immigration message is popular. Arizona will award its entire slate of 58 delegates to Mr Trump.
In Utah, the state’s 40 delegates will be awarded proportionate to the popular vote, unless a single candidate captures at least 50 percent of the vote, in which case that person will be awarded all the delegates.
On Monday, Mr Trump warned against efforts to deny him the nomination if he falls short of securing the 1,237 delegates needed ahead of the July convention. He now has 678 delegates.
“I think it is going to be very hard for them to do,” Mr Trump said on CNN of any effort to deny him the nomination if he falls short. “I have millions of votes more than anybody.”
Mrs Clinton showed her strength yet again in Arizona and looked to have a solid path to the Democratic presidential nomination. The two nominees from each party will meet in the Nov 8 presidential election.
Mr Sanders is looking for wins in many of the six Democratic contests this week. Alaska, Hawaii and Washington will vote on Saturday.
But because Democratic delegates are awarded proportionally in all states, Mrs Clinton will keep adding to her delegate total even if she is not the winner in a given state.
Tuesday’s Republican contests are the first since Senator Marco Rubio of Florida dropped out a week ago after Mr Trump drubbed him in his home state.
Ohio Governor John Kasich is the only other candidate still in the race, splitting the anti-Trump vote with Mr Cruz.
In Arizona, Mr Trump had the backing of former Republican Governor Jan Brewer and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, two of the most prominent supporters of a crackdown on illegal immigrants.
In Utah, Mr Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, has said he will vote for Mr Cruz.
Romney recorded phone messages on behalf of Mr Cruz, saying,“He is the only Republican candidate who can defeat Donald Trump” and that a vote for Kasich was equivalent to a vote for Mr Trump.