Cruz won Kansas with 48 per cent to Trump’s 23 per cent and Maine by 46 per cent to Trump’s 33 – and although he’d always been predicted to do well in the Midwest, his victory in the North East is a surprise.
Meanwhile, Trump won with a slim majority of three per cent in Louisiana and four per cent in Kentucky – both states where he had been polling well.
It was a terrible night for Marco Rubio, who came third in all races except Maine where he finished dead last.
Both Trump and Cruz called for him to drop out of the race following his abysmal performance.
Trump said: ‘I think Marco Rubio had a very bad night and personally I’d call for him to drop out of the race. I think it’s time.’
While Cruz added: ‘People recognize that if we’re divided Donald wins, and if Donald wins, Hillary wins.’
‘The scream you hear, the howl that comes from Washington DC, is utter terror at what we the people are doing together,’ he added after his Kansas victory in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
Saturday was the first round of votes and primaries since Mitt Romney made a dramatic intervention in the race for the Republican nomination, urging this party not to make Trump the nominee.
And it seems he’s made a difference, narrowing Trump’s lead and giving Cruz a boost. The GOP establishment’s preferred candidate Rubio, however, seems beyond help.
Trump had dominated the race in Louisiana for most of the night and was 10 per cent ahead of Cruz at times.
But his lead shrunk as time went on, and he won with 41 per cent of votes – not that far from Cruz’s 38 per cent.
Trump’s performance in Kentucky looked less certain as he was neck and neck with Cruz for most of the vote – even delaying his final speech until he heard the state’s official results.
Both states were a bust for Rubio, who came out third with 16 per cent of votes in Kentucky and 11 per cent in Louisiana.
Trump said in his victory speech he was ‘very happy’ about his victories in Louisiana and Kentucky.
He made light of his losses in Kansas and Maine, calling them ‘a strong second’ and saying he hadn’t spent much time campaigning there anyway.
Cruz crushed Trump in both states, emerging with a 13 per cent lead on the tycoon in Maine and 25 per cent in Kansas.
This came even though Maine governor Paul LePage endorsed Trump last month, saying the billionaire wanted to ‘make America great again’ and was ‘the only one doing that right now’.
More than 18,600 Republican voters turned out to pick their nominee in Maine, the state’s Republican Party chairman Richard Bennett said as he announced the results on Saturday night.
Rubio did poorly in Kansas, finishing with 17 per cent of the votes, but performed even worse in Maine, finishing last with only eight per cent.
A high turnout was seen in Kansas, with dozens of county locations exceeding 2012 voter turnout by four or five times, said Kansas GOP chairman Kelly Arnold.
Read more: Daily Mail