Election 2016

Trump Wins Florida and Rubio Drops Out; Clinton Wins Florida, Ohio, North Carolina

Covering the continuing developments.

Tuesday's presidential primaries in five states are fortifying Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump's path to their party's nominations.

By wide margins, Clinton and Trump have won Florida, the most-delegate rich state of five holding presidential primaries on Tuesday. Clinton also won Ohio and North Carolina, where the contest was tighter on the GOP side with Trump ahead of Ted Cruz. As expected, Ohio Gov. John Kasich beat Trump in his home state, which awards the second most delegates of the day and is his first victory. However, Trump appeared headed to victories in the two other states voting, Missouri and Illinois.

Trump’s Florida victory was all but unthinkable just several months ago, when all eyes were on the tense contest between two Florida native sons: former Gov. Jeb Bush and his political protégé U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. But with about 72 percent of Florida precincts reporting, Trump had 46 percent, compared to 27 percent for Marco Rubio, 17 percent for Ted Cruz and 7 percent for John Kasich. On the Democratic side, Clinton had 65 percent to 33 percent for Bernie Sanders.

Rubio congratulated Trump on his victory in a concession speech in which he ended his 2016 presidential bid.

Trump's Florida victory gives him 99 delegates in the GOP’s first big winner-take-all state. Trump began the day—with Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Illinois and Missouri all holding primaries—with 469 delegates, compared to 369 for Ted Cruz, 163 for Marco Rubio and 63 for John Kasich. The GOP rules require 1,237 to win the nomination. Ohio is the second biggest winner-take-all state for Republicans, with 66 delegates going to the victor.

Clinton’s victories in Florida and North Carolina were predicted and continued her sweep of southern states. She began the evening with 768 delegates compared to 554 for Sanders. That count does not include the Democratic Party’s superdelegates, who are elected officeholders and party officials holding 712 slots. However, her victory in Ohio was not assumed after Bernie Sanders had unexpectedly defeated her in Michigan.

"We are moving closer to securing the Democratic Party nomination and winning this election in November," Clinton said, speaking at a victory rally in Florida. "Tonight is clearer than ever that this may be one of the most consequential presidential campaigns of our lifetimes." 

Sanders supporters will now be looking to this evening's results in Illinois and Missouri to make the case that they can continue on a path to the nomination. But with Clinton winning Florida and Ohio—two of the biggest swing states in the fall presidential election—his campaign faces a much steeper climb.

Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America's democracy and voting rights. He is the author of several books on elections and the co-author of Who Controls Our Schools: How Billionaire-Sponsored Privatization Is Destroying Democracy and the Charter School Industry (AlterNet eBook, 2016).

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