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In what some are calling “Super Tuesday 2,” several key states held their primary contests on Tuesday, marking the most important day for the 2016 presidential race so far. Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Illinois and Missouri all held primaries, with 367 delegates up for grabs in the Republican race and 691 for the Democrats. It was a pivotal night that provides the best look yet at who the general election candidates may be heading into November. Here are the results.
Many saw Tuesday’s race as do-or-die for the GOP establishment’s anti-Trump effort, and with these results, death is looking likely. Trump started the day by picking up nine delegates from the Northern Mariana Islands and then secured massive victories in Florida, North Carolina and Illinois, and edged out a tie in Missouri. Trump’s support among blue–collar workers helped propel him to victory.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz had a mostly quiet night, coming in second place in Illinois and North Carolina, while nearly tying Trump in Missouri and grabbing a modest number of delegates. Cruz’s performance on Tuesday night reaffirms his position as the only viable remaining challenger for Trump, but he still faces lackluster support from establishment Republicans.
Discouraged by his home state loss, Sen. Marco Rubio announced to supporters in Miami that he will be suspending his campaign. The senator has been struggling since voting started in February, and despite being the favorite of the establishment, he could not get past Trump or Cruz, winning only Minnesota and Washington D.C. Rubio’s absence will leave room for Cruz to challenge Trump head–on.
The only solace for the establishment was Ohio, where Gov. John Kasich carried his home state and received all 66 of its delegates. Kasich delivered an impassioned victory speech and vowed to continue fighting Trump all the way to the convention.
“I will never take a low road to the highest office in the land,” Kasich said.
Unfortunately for Kasich, this was also his only state win to date, as he still trails far behind both Trump and Cruz in overall delegates.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders also faced a make-or-break night on Tuesday, and he too came up empty–handed. Looking to follow up his upset in Michigan, Sanders needed big wins in the industrial Midwest to keep up with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her growing lead, but he couldn’t pull off victories in big states. The only consolation for Sanders was a virtual tie in Missouri, but it is not nearly enough for him to stay mathematically competitive in the Democratic race.
Clinton won four of the five states by considerable margins, picking up over 400 delegates on the way and solidifying her status as the presumed democratic nominee. Clinton continues to find success among African-American and moderate voters, two demographics that have helped her dominate the Southeast and parts of the Midwest.
What it all means
For Trump, Tuesday’s results all point toward a likely nomination in July. The wins leave him with over 600 delegates, about halfway to the necessary 1,237 for the nomination. If the GOP can prevent Trump from getting the majority, they may force a brokered — or contested — convention in which the remaining delegates can be pooled for a different candidate. This would be difficult to accomplish, but if Cruz can continue picking up delegates and possibly steal some states away from Trump, it is possible.
The Republican establishment lost its candidate in Rubio and must decide between rallying around Kasich or begrudgingly supporting Cruz. Either way, a brokered convention may be the last possible way to stop Trump. Meanwhile, the businessman continues to face criticism from all sides, especially on his recent behavior at his rallies during which protesters and supporters were involved in violent clashes.
So far no attacks or accusations have been enough to halt Trump’s momentum, and it’s becoming harder for candidates to imagine any strategy that will successfully dissuade his loyal voters. Cruz could gain support from would-be Rubio voters, but much like Trump, he is still disliked by the establishment.
For the Democrats, things are much simpler. Clinton will most likely win the nomination, and though Sanders’ tie in Missouri may keep him in the race, that won’t be the case for long if Clinton continues to win states. The gap was evident in Clinton’s victory speech where she focused on attacking Trump and congratulated Sanders on his campaign like most candidates do when their opponent is dropping out.
The only remaining challenge for Clinton is her ongoing email scandal, which could hurt her depending on what the FBI finds in its investigation. If any criminal wrongdoing is found, it could be Sanders’ only plausible way back into contention. If nothing of substance is found, Clinton will most likely will be named the Democratic nominee in Philadelphia.
The next round of primaries will be Tuesday, March 22, with races being held in Arizona, Utah, Idaho and American Samoa.