The third Super Tuesday of the 2016 presidential primaries proved to be huge for Republican frontrunner Donald Trump and Democratic front-runner former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The March 15 voting results also gave Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio a much-needed campaign shot in the arm while Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has been eliminated from this election cycle, CNN reports.
Trump, despite mounting controversies and pushback from the GOP establishment, has intensified his delegate lead with victories in the Florida, Illinois and North Carolina primaries.
The business mogul now holds a comfortable lead over his closest rival, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
Trump’s winner-take-all victory in Florida effectively ended Rubio’s presidential ambitions. After losing his home state by double digits, the 44-year-old senator suspended his campaign.
“While we are on the right side, this year we will not be on the winning side,” Rubio told his supporters.
Despite a slew of important wins, Trump’s path to the GOP nomination suffered a big setback when Kasich won his home state of Ohio.
The Buckeye state’s winner-take-all primary had 66 delegates on the line; with Trump failing to secure them, the chances of him reaching the necessary 1,237 delegates to avoid a contested convention have narrowed.
The Ohio victory rescued Kasich’s campaign and, with Rubio’s departure, the governor has been positioned as the last GOP mainstream candidate left standing. However, the only chance for Kasich to become the nominee would be through a contested convention.
“Kasich made it further than many thought, combining luck and skill to make it to the final three contenders,” Kyle Kondik of the University of Virginia’s Center on Politics told The Columbus Dispatch. “However, he is clearly the weakest of the final troika in terms of delegates and national name ID and support.”
Meanwhile, on the Democratic front, Clinton steam rolled her rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, with victories in Florida, Illinois, Ohio and North Carolina.
Extending her lead by more than 300 delegates, Clinton has all but ended the race to the Democratic nomination. Sanders would need to win 72 percent of all remaining delegates, meaning that the primary would have to shift dramatically to give the senator a path to victory.
Both Trump and Clinton have reportedly won their respective party contests in Missouri by a margin of less than half of 1 percent. By state law, both results can be subjected to a recount, St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.