- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 2, 2016

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton stormed through Alabama and much of the South on Super Tuesday, clinching victories built on rallying key bases- voters angry at Washington for Trump and African-American voters for Clinton.

The victories for the two front-runners weren’t surprising, but they were commanding.

Clinton claimed a decisive primary victory over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, taking about 80 percent of the vote in the Alabama Democratic primary. Clinton - as she was in other Southern states - was propelled by heavy support from African-American voters with 9 in 10 black Democrats casting votes for the former secretary of state, according to exit polls conducted by Edison Research for the Associated Press and television networks.

“I think she can do the job,” said Lashaun Smith, a 38-year-old health care worker. “She’s smart, she knows what she’s doing and she’s spent time with the president.” Smith added that Clinton’s stances on equal pay for women and health care also resonate with her, and she’s confident Clinton will be the party’s nominee.

Clinton had visited Alabama three times ahead of Tuesday’s election in stops that courted African-American voters, the largest voting bloc in Democratic primaries in the Deep South.

She made a Saturday stump stop at Miles College in Fairfield and a December speech at the Montgomery church helmed by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

The deeply red state drew a flurry of interest from Republicans including Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Ben Carson leading up to Super Tuesday.

But it was the bombastic businessman who walked away with more than 40 percent of the GOP primary vote, double the amount of Cruz, the second-place finisher.

Alabama voters praised Trump’s frank talk, pegging him as the candidate to “tell it like it is”, according to exit polls.

In the heavily Republican Birmingham suburb of Helena, Jeanie Lindsey got up early, pulled on her Alabama sweat shirt and waited with dozens of others for 40 minutes in the morning chill before the polls opened. But she said it was worth it. She cast her ballot for Trump, who also won Georgia and Tennessee.

“I stood in line for six hours the other day at a Trump rally because to me he’s just the man,” said Lindsey. “He is the one that is going to make the country great again.”

Trump drew large crowds to rallies in Mobile and Madison. Eight in 10 Republicans said they were dissatisfied or angry about the way the federal government is working, and Trump corralled the largest number of those voters.

Natalie Davis, a political scientist at Birmingham-Southern College, said Trump has tapped into boiling voter anger and frustration.

“For Trump, his support is coming from people who have a sense of powerlessness. They think America has gone awry,” Davis said.

However, it appeared Cruz garnered enough support in Alabama to peel some delegates away from first-place finisher Trump.

In Clanton, Dale Crawford said he liked Trump but ultimately voted for Cruz “because he’s more Christian.”

“I did what I figured God would bless me for. I woke up in the middle of the night and it was like, ‘Cruz, Cruz, Cruz,’” said Crawford, gesturing toward his head. “I didn’t think it was Satan. I think it was the Lord.”


Associated Press writers Jay Reeves and Phillip Lucas contributed to this report.

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