Five things to watch in weekend votes

Five things to watch in weekend votes
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Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpO’Malley tells Dems not to fear Trump Right way and wrong way Five things to know about the elephant trophies controversy MORE and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonO’Malley tells Dems not to fear Trump FBI informant gathered years of evidence on Russian push for US nuclear fuel deals, including Uranium One, memos show Pelosi blasts California Republicans for supporting tax bill MORE are looking to keep up the momentum in a number of primary contests over the weekend, fresh off their strong performances on Super Tuesday. 

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On the Democratic side, Clinton and Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersDe Blasio headed to Iowa to speak at political fundraiser Yes, spills happen — but pipelines are still the safest way to move oil Why sexual harassment discussions include lawmakers talking about Bill Clinton’s past MORE will square off in Kansas, Louisiana and Nebraska on Saturday and in Maine on Sunday. 

For Republicans, Trump, Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTexas Republicans slam White House over disaster relief request Dem rep: Trump disaster aid request is 'how you let America down again' Moore endorsements disappear from campaign website MORE, Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioCongress faces growing health care crisis in Puerto Rico The Hill's 12:30 Report Colbert mocks Trump for sipping water during speech on Asia trip MORE and John Kasich will compete in Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and Maine on Saturday and in Puerto Rico on Sunday. 

Minimal polling has been conducted in these states making it difficult to project who will dominate the weekend. 

Here’s a breakdown about what to keep an eye on as results roll in on Saturday and Sunday: 

Can Sanders carry momentum from the weekend into March 8 contests? 

Sanders has spent a considerable amount of time and resources ahead of the Kansas, Nebraska and Maine caucuses and has appeared on the air in all three states, according to MSNBC.

His campaign hopes to pick up some wins this weekend that can help catapult him into Tuesday’s Michigan primary, which has 130 delegates.

The Vermont senator has sought to draw contrasts between him and Clinton over trade. Sanders outspent Clinton on TV ads in the Great Lakes State, according to the Detroit News. 

Still, recent polls show Sanders trailing behind Clinton in the double digits.

A strong showing by Sanders this weekend -- and during the Sunday debate in Flint -- could blunt some of Clinton’s momentum coming out of Super Tuesday and position him well ahead of the Michigan primary. 

Will Clinton beat Sanders again in his backyard? 

Clinton upset Sanders in Massachusetts, a neighboring state that the Vermont senator was hoping he could add to his handful of wins on Super Tuesday. 

The former secretary of State edged him out by less than 2 points in a state tailor-made for Sanders. 

Now, the Sanders campaign is eyeing another liberal-voter stronghold as the race shifts to Maine. 

Following Super Tuesday, Sanders rallied voters in Portland and touted that he took on the Democratic establishment after winning Vermont, Oklahoma, Minnesota and Colorado. He said high voter turnout will benefit him in the Pine State. 

Despite a narrow loss in Massachusetts, Sanders hopes to replicate his wins in New Hampshire and Vermont and pocket another New England victory. 

It’s not a critical victory for the Clinton camp, but a win on Sanders’s home turf could deal a blow to his campaign and extend her massive delegate lead. 

Who will benefit from a winnowed Republican field? 

Ben Carson officially ended his quest for the White House on Friday. Earlier this week, the retired neurosurgeon said he didn’t see a “political path forward” and skipped out on Thursday’s debate. 

His departure signals the chase for his loyal supporters by the remaining GOP hopefuls. 

Carson’s appeal to evangelicals is widely seen to benefit Cruz, who attracted many of those voters when he won the Iowa caucuses. 

But Cruz isn’t the only candidate hoping for the extra boost. The day before he dropped out, Trump also sought to court Carson’s base, tweeting that he hopes “all of Ben’s followers will join the #TrumpTrain.” 

Where else can Rubio and Cruz win? 

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have both laid out the case for why they are the best anti-Trump alternative. 

But to stop Trump, who’s won 10 of the first 15 primary contests, both senators must prove that they can win states and not consistently finish in second and third place. 

Cruz, who has won four states, continues to drive home the narrative that he’s the only candidate who can -- and has -- beaten Trump. But the terrain going forward will only get tougher for the Texas senator as the contest moves away from the southern states.

Thus, this weekend's contests are critical for Cruz with southern states Kentucky and Louisiana up for grabs. as well as Kansas, which borders Oklahoma where he won on Super Tuesday. 

Rubio had a rough Super Tuesday, but eked out a late-night victory in Minnesota. The establishment has rallied around him, but some express doubts in his ability to be the designated Trump takedown candidate.

Victories this weekend could temporarily stop the bleeding and give Rubio a much-needed boost going into Florida’s winner-take-all primary on March 15, where he trails by double digits in his home state. 

He dropped scheduled appearances in Kentucky and Louisiana on Friday to concentrate on Kansas and he’s traveling to Puerto Rico a day ahead of the Sunday primary. Now, the question will be whether his gamble pays off. 

Polling has been scant in the weekend contests, but recent polls show Trump leading the pack in most. Rubio and Cruz will need to net some of these states to convince voters they have a path toward the nomination. 

Will anyone show up for the Kentucky Republican caucuses? 

Kentucky switched from a primary to a caucus for the first time in more than 30 years. 

Former White House hopeful Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulCongress must end American support for Saudi war in Yemen Black men get longer prison sentences than white men for same crimes: study Sarah Palin on sexual harassment: 'People know I'm probably packing' so they 'don't mess with me' MORE instigated the change last August so he could simultaneously run for president and reelection to the Senate.

Now that the Kentucky senator has suspended his presidential bid, state party leaders are left scrambling at the last minute to get the vote out and expect low voter turnout.

The remaining GOP hopefuls have spent little time in the Bluegrass State. But Trump's Louisville rally on Tuesday might have brought Kentucky voters a much-needed reminder about its weekend caucus. 

And that’s a good thing for all of the candidates. 

“I have real concerns that the Republican Party has been doing an abysmal job getting the word out,” Scott Hofstra, Ted Cruz’s Kentucky volunteer chairman told the Louisville Courier-Journal

And former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup, Rubio’s Kentucky campaign chairwoman, told the publication, “We have been trying to engage the press because we don’t want it to come and go and for people who live very busy lives with family and work and other activities to go, the next day, ‘Oh, I missed it.’” 

A late February poll found Trump with a double-digits lead over the GOP field.