The direction of the 2016 presidential campaign gained more clarity Tuesday night with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump scoring big wins in multiple states and increasing their delegate leads in the Democratic and Republican nominating contests.
In the GOP race, Trump won four of the five states voting Tuesday but was denied a decisive victory in Ohio by home-state governor John Kasich. His Ohio loss was notable because it leaves the specter of a contested convention still lingering for a divided GOP even as Trump continues to add to his significant delegate advantage.
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On the Democratic side, Clinton moved closer to securing the Democratic nomination by sweeping all five contests. She created more distance between her own delegate haul and Bernie Sanders' count with wins in Ohio, Florida and North Carolina; and NBC News declared her the apparent winner in Missouri and Illinois.
Kasich, a comparatively moderate Republican who is popular in the state where he has served as congressman and governor, captured Ohio’s 66 delegates in the winner-take-all contest, leaving a muddled picture that slows Trump’s progress towards the 1237 delegates he would need to capture the GOP nod.
“It’s been my intention to make you proud,” Kasich told supporters at a rally in Northeast Ohio. “I will not take the low road to the highest office in the land.”
But despite losing the midwestern prize of the Buckeye State, Trump still appeared on track to amass a impressive slate of delegates from the Tuesday contests.
He bested Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in close races in Illinois, North Carolina, and was declared the apparent winner in Missouri. And his massive victory in Florida gave the GOP frontrunner another 99 delegates and delivered a humiliating blow to Sen. Marco Rubio, whose hopes of salvaging his sputtering campaign were dashed after an embarrassing loss in his home state.
Rubio exited the race Tuesday, alluding to Trump’s success as an exploitation of the “politics of resentment” built on “preying on people's frustrations.”
With GOP votes in Missouri still uncounted, Cruz also looked poised to pick up at least some delegates and maintain his spot as the GOP race’s second place competitor overall.
"We continued to gain delegates and continue our march to 1,237," Cruz said, a reference to the number of GOP delegates needed to clinch the nomination.
Clinton will benefit most from her gigantic victory in Florida, where she led Sanders by a two-to-one margin with 90 percent of precincts voting.
“We are moving closer to securing the Democratic Party nomination and winning this election in November," Clinton said at a victory party in Florida.