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Utah, Arizona, Idaho hold elections as presidential race moves west

An example of an early ballot collection box

An example of an early ballot collection box and demonstration of voting areas is set up at the Maricopa County Recorder's office in Phoenix on Monday, March 21, 2016, ahead of the state's Presidential Primary Election on Tuesday. Credit: AP / Ryan Van Velzer

The race for the White House moves west Tuesday as Arizona and Utah hold primaries for both major parties and Idaho conducts a Democratic caucus.

Underdogs are hoping to score victories to at least slow down frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

“We expect to do very well, and will hopefully take our first cut into Hillary Clinton’s delegate lead by the time it’s all said and done,” Jeff Weaver, campaign manager for Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, told supporters in an email.

He’ll need a huge comeback in Arizona, where the latest survey showed Clinton ahead by 26 points. Sanders is faring better in Utah: A Deseret News poll found Sanders eight points ahead. The two were in a dead heat in Idaho, according to the latest poll taken, a month ago. Combined, 149 Democratic delegates are at stake Tuesday; delegates will be awarded on a proportional basis.

Arizona is the biggest prize on the Republican side Tuesday — because, unlike most states, it is a winner-take-all contest with 58 delegates on the line. Polls show Trump running about 13 points ahead of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Ari.) and at least 21 ahead of Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Cruz campaigned in Arizona Monday, urging Kasich supporters to reconsider their decision. He told them a “vote for Kasich is a vote is a vote for Trump.”

Cruz is making a similar pitch in Utah. On Monday, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert endorsed him, saying he has the best chance of derailing Trump’s insurgent bid for the party’s nomination.

Kasich contends he’s the most electable Republican come fall, because of his pragmatic approach and long record in government. He’s invested in an 11th-hour ad blitz and made campaigns stop there over the weekend to try to cut into Cruz’ lead.

Utah’s 40 delegates will be awarded on a proportional basis if no one garners more than 50 percent of the overall vote. Polls suggest Cruz is just above that threshold but Kasich is making a late push. Utah could be Trump’s worst showing — he garnered support from just 11 percent of its voters in the last survey.

With wire reports.

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