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Donald Trump wins Tennessee Republican primary

Trump has won his fourth state of the night.
Trump has won his fourth state of the night.
Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images
Libby Nelson is Vox's policy editor, leading coverage of how government action and inaction shape American life. Libby has more than a decade of policy journalism experience, including at Inside Higher Ed and Politico. She joined Vox in 2014.

Donald Trump has won the Tennessee primary, with the election called right as polls closed.

Tennessee wasn't polled much going into Super Tuesday, but the sole poll of the state taken in February found Trump in the lead. So his victory isn't a total surprise.

Tennessee's delegate allocation rules are complicated, but candidates have to get at least 20 percent of the vote to get any delegates from the state.

Trump's win in Tennessee is further evidence that Ted Cruz's campaign has failed to catch fire, and that despite being the only candidate besides Trump to win any states, he's unlikely to become the Republican nominee.

Tennessee voters are heavily evangelical, and Trump won anyway

Tennessee voters might seem like natural fits for Cruz. In the 2008 and 2012 primaries, they were very likely to describe themselves as born-again Christians and to say they attended church at least weekly. Three-quarters of voters in the state said they were born again in 2012.

Evangelical voters went for Cruz in Iowa and helped hand him his victory in the state. But in South Carolina, Trump won a plurality of evangelicals, who didn't seem to care that he is less religious than the other Republican candidates in the race.

Rubio, meanwhile, got high-profile endorsements. The state's governor, Bill Haslam, and Sen. Lamar Alexander, both moderately conservative by the standards of the modern GOP, spoke up for Rubio in the final days of February.

One of Trump's rare congressional endorsements, on the other hand, came from Rep. Scott DesJarlais, a Tennessee Tea Partier who won a third term in 2014 despite several scandals surrounding his divorce, his ex-wife's abortions, and his history of getting romantically or sexually involved with his medical patients.

Trump is looking unstoppable

Although other candidates might come out of Tennessee with some delegates, the story of the night is the unstoppable juggernaut that Trump has apparently become. Ahead of Super Tuesday, he was polling strongly in seven of the 11 states, including Tennessee, where Republicans voted. Three of the remaining four states simply hadn't polled enough to tell.

Trump appears to be on track to win at least most, if not all, of them. His win in Tennessee is a blow to Rubio, but given the state's voters, it's even worse news for Ted Cruz.