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Trump Deals Fatal Blow To Rubio In Fla., But Kasich Wins Ohio; Clinton Wins 4

By Jessica Taylor | NPR
Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The GOP presidential field dropped by one candidate on Tuesday night, but Republicans are still no closer to uniting behind a nominee.

Democrats, however, did get more clarity as Hillary Clinton racked up more wins over Bernie Sanders, extending her delegate lead and complicating the Vermont senator's nomination calculation.

In the Republican race, Donald Trump dealt a fatal blow to the campaign of Marco Rubio, the senator from Florida, who suspended his campaign shortly after losing his home state to Trump.

"After tonight it is clear that while we are on the right side, we will not be on the winning side," Rubio told supporters in Miami.

The real estate mogul got a setback of his own in Ohio, where sitting Gov. John Kasich beat Trump, taking all of the state's 66 delegates in the big winner-take-all contest.

Overall, though, it still ended up being a very good night for Trump, as he picked up wins in North Carolina and Illinois that could still give him plenty of delegates to make up for the Ohio loss.

In Missouri, he was leading Texas Sen. Ted Cruz by a very slim margin, but with absentee and provisional ballots still outstanding, The Associated Press is not calling the race. Those returns won't change for several weeks, though — outstanding ballots won't be factored into totals until Missouri's Secretary of State certifies the primary results. That isn't expected to happen until April.

On the Democratic side, Clinton beat Sanders in Illinois, Ohio, North Carolina and Florida, helping her pad her delegate lead over the senator. Clinton also has a very narrow lead over Sanders in Missouri, which, like the GOP race, won't be called by AP tonight.

(Both Missouri races are within the state's recall margin, but neither Cruz nor Sanders would be able to request one until after the results are certified next month.)

"Now, today, all of you in the states where contests were held voted to break down the barriers that hold us all back so every one of us can share in the promise of America. You voted, you voted, you voted for our tomorrow to be better than our yesterday," Clinton told her supporters.

Sanders had hoped a surprise win last week in Michigan could help him in other Rust Belt states like Ohio and Illinois. But a loss in Ohio dimmed some of that hope. And with Clinton's other wins Tuesday, the math for Sanders going forward grows even more difficult.

He delivered what was largely his standard stump speech for nearly an hour in Arizona on Tuesday night, but made little reference to the night's results. Early Wednesday morning, his campaign put out a statement congratulating Clinton and arguing that, "With more than half the delegates yet to be chosen and a calendar that favors us in the weeks and months to come, we remain confident that our campaign is on a path to win the nomination."

For Republicans trying to derail trump, it was almost one step forward and one step backward. Yes, Trump was denied delegates in Ohio, but he still picked up big wins in other states and could make up that 66-delegate deficit elsewhere.

And while Rubio withdrew from the race, Kasich's victory gave the governor reason to stay in the race, even though it was his first win of the primary season. That means it won't shrink to a two-man race just yet.

"I will not take the low road to the highest office," Kasich declared to cheering supporters in Ohio, promising his campaign would go on to Pennsylvania and other contests in the West.

Cruz was hoping to edge out Trump in Missouri to get a win on the board, and argued that his campaign was the only one with a path to victory, dismissing any new life Kasich's campaign may have gotten.

"Starting tomorrow morning, every Republican has a clear choice. Only two campaigns have a plausible path to the nomination: our's and Donald Trump's. Nobody else has any mathematical possibility whatsoever," Cruz said.

Here's what happened in each state:


With all precincts reporting, Trump has a 1,726-vote margin over Cruz. The AP, however, will not call the race yet since a recount could still be possible. The Texas senator's campaign manager, Jeff Roe, is a longtime operative in the state, and his team was hoping to stop Trump in the Show Me State and get a win Tuesday night. Delegates are partially awarded based on wins in each congressional district, so both candidates could still walk away with a significant bump from the state.

On the Democratic side, Clinton is ahead of Sanders by 1,531 votes with all precincts reporting, but the AP will also not declare a winner.


Clinton escaped with a narrow win over Sanders in the state. The senator had hoped his strength with white, blue-collar voters would give him a late boost in the state, much like it did just a week ago in Michigan.

Trump won Illinois on the GOP side, besting Cruz by about 8 percentage points. It's unclear yet how many delegates he will net, though — the state awards them based on a complicated formula by congressional district in addition to 15 delegates that go to the statewide winner.


Trump's win in Florida may have been the biggest earthquake in the race so far. He didn't just edge out Rubio, who had essentially staked his entire campaign on the state, but he crushed the sitting senator. In fact, the only county Rubio carried was his home of Miami-Dade.

Florida was supposed to be where Rubio would resurrect his campaign after having underperformed across the country so far. But instead, it wrote his political obituary.

Clinton's win in Florida is also significant. She will get at least 124 pledged delegates out of her win, per the AP, and she won big with Hispanics in the state as well, while Trump lost among Hispanic voters on the GOP side despite winning the state.


Kasich's victory complicates the GOP leader's delegate math. That's good news for Republicans who are #NeverTrump, and it does give the Ohio governor his first outright victory. His campaign hasn't been shy about its strategy, even outlining in a memo that they don't believe any candidate will capture a majority of delegates before the GOP convention in Cleveland. Now, they need to woo Rubio voters to their side.

Clinton's win in Ohio is also important. After losing in Michigan thanks to white, blue-collar voters swayed by Sanders, she rebounded in a state that's politically similar.

North Carolina

Clinton completed her sweep of the South with a big win in the Tar Heel State. But with her victory in Ohio, too, she can blunt the Sanders campaign criticism that she's just a regional candidate.

On the GOP side, Trump narrowly edged out Cruz in the state. Since it does still award its 72 delegates proportionally, though (actually the second-biggest prize of the night), the margin will matter for the Texas senator.

Northern Mariana Islands

Not to be overlooked, Trump began the big day of voting with a win in the U.S. commonwealth's GOP caucuses. He took 73 percent of the vote (343 votes out of just 471 cast), which will give Trump all nine available delegates. Cruz was second with 113 votes, while Kasich got 10 votes and Rubio got just five votes.

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