Donald Trump continued his march towards the Republican presidential nomination winning two more primaries on Tuesday in utter disdain of the party leadership’s efforts to stop him.
Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, had a tough night, losing delegate-rich Michigan to Bernie Sanders despite leading in polls. She won Mississippi, though.
Trump won Michigan, the big prize in the Tuesday contests, and Mississippi, taking up his tally so far to 14 wins, to Ted Cruz’s seven (he won Idaho), and Marco Rubio’s two.
Republicans held primaries in three states on Tuesday — Michigan, Mississippi and Idaho, and caucuses in Hawaii. Democrats had primaries in Michigan and Mississippi.
Trump’s recent victories, since the March 1 Super Tuesday, have come in the face of stiff opposition from Republican leaders either directly, such as Mitt Romney, or through surrogates.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had so many horrible, horrible things said about me in one week,” Trump said, opening his victory speech at one his golf resorts in Miami, Florida.
“$38 million worth of horrible lies,” he added, referring to negative ads that have flooded states that held their nominating contest on Tuesday and those that are coming up.
Florida and Ohio that have primaries on March 15 are the two prize contests that are expected to determine if Trump will be the nominee or is stopped by one of the other three still in the race.
Cruz is currently number two but he was relegated to the third slot in Michigan by John Kasich, who has not won anything yet but hopes to turn the race by winning in Ohio, his home state.
But Cruz is trailing Trump in the RealClearPolitics average of polls 34.5% to 30.5% there. It’s going to be a do-or-die contest for him; he will come under pressure to quit if he loses there.
As it is for Rubio in Florida, his home state, which he expects to win. But he too is trailing Trump in the average of polls in the state by a wide margin, 25.7% to 41.7%.
Experts say they don’t see a path to the nomination for either of them if they were to lose their home-state primaries. That would leave just Trump and Cruz in the race.
The Democratic race became a lot keener Tuesday, a day before their debate in here in Florida on Wednesday, with Sanders picking up Michigan, which even he didn’t see coming.
“Something amazing is happening in the state of Michigan,” Sanders said in a fund-raising mail to supporters at a point in the counting of votes when a victory began looking possible.
Clinton won Mississippi, ending the night in a tie.
She now has 12 wins to Sanders’s nine. In the count of delegates she has 1,215 and Sanders has 566 — to win the Democratic nomination a candidate must get 2,383.
In the Republican race, Trump leads with 328 delegates, followed by Cruz with 315, Rubio 151 and Kasich 52. Their target is 1,237 delegates.