Former President Donald Trump has won the Utah Republican Caucus.

Just after 6 a.m. Wednesday morning, the Utah Republican Party released updated vote counts, giving Trump a sizable lead ahead of former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. Trump received 58% of the vote to Haley’s 41% with almost 80% of the precincts reporting. Trump will win all of Utah’s 40 delegates.

Texas businessman Ryan Binkley, who dropped out of the race after his name was printed on Utah’s ballots, received 1% of the vote.

Utah was the last state to release results after 15 GOP contests were held across the country on Super Tuesday.

Utah GOP chair Rob Axson released a statement Wednesday morning, saying he was “proud to announce preliminary results” after a “successful caucus night.”

“I want to thank all the candidates who participated, our dedicated organizers and volunteers, and especially the caucus-goers, even when dealing with long lines and some hiccups to the check-in process in some locations,” he said. “Republicans from all around the state and from every background came together for meaningful participation in our democratic system. The continued engagement of all of us is going to be critical this campaign season.”

He continued, “Clearly, America is on the wrong path under Joe Biden and we need strong Republican leadership in Washington to promote commonsense policies that make our communities safer, stronger, and more prosperous.”

After the first set of results were released just before midnight Tuesday, Axson spoke to reporters at the GOP election headquarters held at the Utah Trucking Association in West Valley City.

He addressed the frustration expressed by voters over long lines and technical glitches in some caucus locations.

“There were some locations that were very well attended, which is awesome and difficult all at the same time,” Axson said, speaking to the complaints from voters, “It’s nice to see so many people that want to get involved.”

Ally Isom, a poll watcher for the Haley campaign, said, “You can’t win a general election when 40% of the voter are walking away from the nominee.”

“So, it’s a call for unity, I think,” she added.

This year, Republicans selected their presidential nominee through a party-run caucus election while Democrats voted via a primary election, with in-person voting and mail-in ballots available.

President Joe Biden easily won Utah’s Democratic primary.

On the Republican side, voters at over 2,300 precinct meetings checked-in at 6 p.m. on Tuesday night, with the meetings running from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. But the planned schedule did not match up with the reality at every location: voters in a handful of precincts voiced frustration over numerous technical difficulties and long lines, which ultimately led to delayed results.

Mixed experiences for Utah caucus-goers

Reports indicated some precinct meetings were overcrowded and disorganized, while voters in other locations said things went smoothly.

Voters complained of hours-long waits, long lines, not enough seats and system crashes — similar to the issues encountered in 2016, when the major parties in Utah held a caucus to choose their presidential nominees. The voter turnout was also lower in 2016 compared to previous years, as the Deseret News reported, and is expected to be lower this year, too.

During the 2016 primary, Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich lost the caucus to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who claimed the entirety of the delegates. But Trump ultimately became the GOP nominee, and won Utah with 45% of the vote, while Hillary Clinton got 27% and third-party candidate Evan McMullin got 21%.

This year, the Republican Party faced criticism for its decision to hold a caucus, leaving no room for vote-by-mail or early voting. Voters with young children, work commitments or health problems expressed their frustrations to Axson for the decision to ditch the primary.

In an appearance on KSL-TV, Axson spoke to caucus-goers at Brighton High School in Cottonwood Heights, saying he appreciated voters’ patience, and still thought it was a good idea to hold a caucus.

Attendees raise their hands at a Republican caucus at Rock Canyon Elementary School in Provo on Tuesday, March 5, 2024. | Megan Nielsen, Deseret News

Later, at the party headquarters, Axson said logistical and human error plagued caucus events in some locations, saying the wait time in busy caucus meetings was about 45 minutes.

At a caucus in Provo, voters received handouts, obtained by the Deseret News, explaining the reason behind the decision to caucus and why the “caucus election system matters.”

Paul Weiderhold from Precinct 139 in Provo, told attendees the Utah Republican Party is trying “a new system,” which “has a lot of bugs in it,” adding, “just everything kind of was difficult. So, we appreciate your patience.”

Those unable to attend a caucus meeting had the option of filling out an absentee paper ballot and submitting it by sending it with a household member or a neighbor, or delivering it to their precinct chair ahead of time.

Donald Trump talks to Utahns before caucus

Prior to the voting beginning in Utah, Trump called in on the Utah’s “Rod Arquette Show,” saying the U.S. is “in the midst of one of the most dangerous times in the history.”

He categorized President Joe Biden as “incompetent,” before launching into his agenda, should he be reelected.

“We have to close up the border. We have to drill, baby, drill,” he said in conversation with former Utah state House Speaker Greg Hughes, adding “fixing the economy” and brining down inflation to his list.

“The stock market is the only thing that seems to be working,” Trump added. “And a lot of people say it’s working because my poll numbers are good. ... So, we’re going to make this country really hot, we’re going to make it rock ‘n’ roll, and we’re going to make America great again.”

While in office, Trump downsized federal land attached to Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, the two southeastern Utah monuments, and handed over the nearly 2 million acres of land back to the state. But Biden subsequently reversed this move.

On the radio show, Trump said late Sen. Orrin Hatch and other Utahns were in favor of freeing up the federal lands.

“I was hearing from so many people that ... what we did was so incredible,” he said. “Then they come in and closed it up for no reason.” But he promised to remove protections from these lands again, and “quickly.”

Who won the Democratic Primary in Utah in 2024?

The Utah Democratic Party sent an email at around 8:30 p.m., congratulating Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on their “overwhelming” primary victory.

Devin Zander and others participate in the Pledge of Allegiance as Democrats gather at Churchill Junior High in Millcreek to pick precinct chairs and state delegates on Tuesday, March 5, 2024. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

“These results show what I’ve been hearing on the ground every day: Democrats are fired up and ready to reelect the Biden-Harris ticket in November,” Diane Lewis, the Utah Democratic Party chair, said in a statement.

“We know what’s at stake in this election: our personal freedoms, our economy and our democracy,” Lewis said. “Tonight, thousands of Utah Democrats showed that they are ready to fight for our historic progress and send Joe Biden and Kamala Harris back to the White House in November.”

On the Democratic ballot were Biden, Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota, Gabriel Cornejo of Las Vegas, Frankie Lozada of New York, and author Marianne Williamson, who suspended her campaign only to jump back into the race three weeks later.

Utah Democrats received their ballots, postmarked for March 5, by mail. They had the option of returning the ballot via mail on Monday or delivering them to a drop box by 8 p.m. on Tuesday.

Contributing: Samuel Benson, Suzanne Bates