After another day of multi-state primaries, the presidential race congealed around businessman Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who both notched key wins and built on their respective delegate leads. Post Super Tuesday Part II, Trump now has 661 of the needed 1,237 Republican delegates, while Clinton has 1,599 total delegates of the 2,383 needed for Democrats.
Clinton managed almost a clean sweep of the map for Democrats, winning four of the five states in play: Florida, Illinois, North Carolina and Ohio. Trump won in three states — Florida, Illinois and North Carolina — while Gov. John Kasich won his home state of Ohio. As of press time, Missouri was still too close to call for either party.
(Note that the maps reflect the current leader in the Missouri primary, even though the race has not been called officially yet.)
Clinton’s victories on Tuesday don’t officially lock up the nomination, but her strong showing gives her an important boost after Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders won the Michigan primary last week in a shocking upset. Sanders recently said he viewed his Michigan win as a sort of initial domino to more successes in Midwest states like Ohio, Illinois and Missouri.
But Clinton won handily in Ohio and eked out a closer victory in Illinois on Tuesday night. She clings to a lead of 1,531 votes in Missouri with 99 percent of precincts reporting, according to the Associated Press. As the InsideGov visualization shows, Sanders and Clinton even tied in one northeastern pocket of Missouri, in Lewis County.
Sanders outspent Clinton markedly on radio and TV ads in Missouri, doling out almost $1 million on television spots there, according to Politico. He also bounced around the state during the weekend before the primary, speaking to thousands of supporters in Springfield and St. Louis.
The four-for-five night for the Clinton campaign is certainly significant for the less quantifiable aspects of politics, like momentum and voter enthusiasm. However, since the Democrats allocate delegates on a proportional basis throughout the primary process, Clinton’s wins build on her overall delegate lead but don’t let her claim a total shutout. Not including the still-TBD counts in Missouri, Clinton collected at least 333 delegates on Tuesday, while Sanders collected at least 232 delegates.
Among Republicans, Trump continued to dominate the primary map. The main exception was Ohio, where Kasich’s big win there was his first of the election cycle. The state’s winner-take-all approach means he’ll collect all 66 of those delegates.
Although Kasich’s total delegate count of 142 still puts him in last place, his victory in Ohio puts a speed bump into Trump’s path to the nomination. The win for Kasich disperses the Republican delegates a bit more, increasing the possibility that Trump won’t reach the threshold of 1,237 required delegates before the party’s convention in July.
If Trump doesn’t hit that magic number, the GOP is looking at a contested convention, a fickle setup where delegates pick their favorite candidate at the party meeting. Throughout the primary voting process, delegates are “pledged” to a candidate and therefore required to vote for that person at the convention. But some delegates come to the convention “un-pledged” and get to make an on-the-spot pick of which candidate to support. Anti-Trump Republicans have their eyes on the wonky wheeling-and-dealing of a contested convention as a means to prevent Trump from being the nominee. Kasich’s win in Ohio kept that hope alive.
Some big — if not totally shocking — news came out of Florida, where Trump’s blowout victory pushed Rubio to suspend his campaign. Polling data pointed to a strong finish for Trump in Florida, and he ended up winning with 45.7 percent of the vote. Rubio captured just 27 percent of the vote, and won only one county outright in the state.
The results meant Trump collected all 99 of Florida’s winner-take-all delegates. Less than two hours after the polls closed in his home state, Rubio called it quits.
“The politics of resentment against other people will not just leave us a fractured party, they’re going to leave us a fractured nation,” Rubio said as he ended his campaign. “They’re going to leave us as a nation where people literally hate each other because they have different political opinions.”
The not-so-veiled swipe at Trump comes after an uptick in dramatic protests and violence in the past few days at Trump’s campaign rallies. In a recent CNN interview, Rubio hedged his previous commitment to support the Republican nominee, even if that ends up being Trump, saying: “It’s getting harder every day to justify that statement.”
With Rubio’s exit, the Republican field narrows to three candidates: Trump, Kasich and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who is still neck-and-neck with Trump in Missouri. Fox News is slated to host a Republican debate in Salt Lake City on March 21, but Trump said he would not attend it. He told Fox News during an interview, “I think we’ve had enough debates.”
Utah and Arizona hold their primaries the next day, on March 22.
Cross-posted from InsideGov