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Trump rolls to victory over Haley in Missouri’s Republican presidential caucuses

Former President Donald Trump gestures towards the crowd on June 25, 2022, at a “Save America!” Rally at the Adams County Fairgrounds in Mendon, Ill. “Your boundless love, sacrifice and devotion has finally been rewarded in full,” Trump told his thousands of supporters regarding the overturning of Roe v. Wade the day after the decision. “As a candidate in 2016, I promised to nominate judges and justices who would stand up for the original meaning of the Constitution and who would honestly and faithfully interpret the law as written.”
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
Former President Donald Trump, shown in 2022 near Quincy, easily won Missouri's GOP caucuses on Saturday.

Updated at 4 p.m. March 2 with delegate totals and comment from the chairman of the Missouri Republican Party

In a result that was never in doubt, former President Donald Trump rolled to victory in Saturday’s Missouri GOP caucuses.

The Associated Press called the race for Trump around noon, as Republicans gathered throughout the state to begin the process of allocating Missouri's 54 delegates to the Republican National Convention.

While Saturday’s contest was technically to select delegates to congressional district and state conventions, Trump was always likely to prevail. Not only is he dominating national polls against former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, he’s proven to be wildly popular in Missouri — winning the state’s electoral votes in 2016 and 2020 by landslides.

“THANK YOU, MISSOURI! Together, WE are going to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!!!” Trump wrote on the social media platform Truth Social.

On Saturday afternoon, the Missouri Republican Party said in a news release that Trump won every county in the state — meaning he shut Haley out in terms of getting any delegates to the congressional district or state conventions.

"Missouri Republicans have spoken loud and clear today, affirming their trust in President Trump's leadership and rejecting the failed policies of the Democrats in Washington," said Nick Myers, chairman of the Missouri Republican Party, in a statement.

The most notable thing about Saturday’s caucus wasn’t the potential outcome, but rather widespread GOP aggravation around the event’s structure.

In 2022, the GOP-controlled Missouri General Assembly eliminated the state’s presidential preference primary. Efforts to resurrect it failed in 2023 — leaving the state’s political parties in charge of structuring how they select delegates to the Democratic and Republican national conventions.

Missouri Republicans last used a caucus system to allocate delegates in 2012. After 2016, local election officials, such as county clerks and election authorities, were in charge of running presidential primary voting. But proponents of getting rid of the primary felt that the entire exercise was a waste of time and money.

Chris Grahn-Howard, a GOP activist who helped write the rules of the GOP caucus, said on an episode of The Politically Speaking Hour on St. Louis on the Air last month that he was upset that lawmakers didn’t bring the presidential primary back.

“Listen, I was the chief architect for the system. I'm proud of it. I hope we never have to use it again,” Grahn-Howard said.

On March 23, Missouri Democrats are having a contest that resembles a primary, with mail-in and in-person voting options. But in a rare moment of agreement, officials with the Missouri Democratic Party concurred with Republicans like Grahn-Howard that they would have rather have kept the presidential preference primary.

“I would just hope the outcry from voters is enough to make that change,” Missouri Democratic Party Executive Director Matt Patterson said last month.

Since Trump and President Joe Biden are expected to be their respective party’s nominees, it was unlikely that Missouri would have strayed from the norm had a presidential primary occurred.

But given that both parties are on track to have open races for president in 2028 regardless of the outcome in November, both Patterson and Grahn-Howard said they hope the legislature brings the primary back.

“I can tell you that a lot of legislators have felt uncomfortable. They've attended some of these trainings, and I have pointed out what I consider a failure of the legislature,” said Grahn-Howard. "And so, I think a lot of people who voted to eliminate the presidential preference primary, if they knew what they know now, they would have voted differently, and I think they will vote to reinstate it.”

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.