Donald Trump’s rivals have shrinking opportunities to slow his momentum in the Republican primaries, now that he easily won in Michigan, Mississippi and Hawaii. Moreover, they have little indication that any efforts to undermine his credibility are pushing voters away from the billionaire.
Bernie Sanders surprised front-runner Hillary Clinton in Michigan. This victory brought new life into his White House bid and forecast a long Democratic contest. However, Clinton padded her delegate lead and is now halfway to the needed number to clinch the nomination. She’s also chosen to focus her attention on Republicans and the general election as she addressed supporters, glossing over her contest with Sanders.
“We are better than what we are being offered by the Republicans,” she declared.
Trump entered the contests facing questions regarding his durability and ended the night with a pair of victories. Ted Cruz also added a win in Idaho, supporting his case that he is the only candidate who can beat Trump with some regularity.
On the other hand, Marco Rubio suffered another brutal drubbing, failing to pick up any delegates in both Michigan and Mississippi. He now faces a sudden-death contest in Florida. Furthermore, John Kasich desperately needs to win his home state to stay in the race.
With the forecast of a Trump nomination growing more likely, rival campaigns and outside groups have significantly stepped up efforts to discredit the real estate mogul. However, the attacks on Trump’s business record and temperament have failed to slow his rise.
“Every single person who has attacked me has gone down,” Trump said at one of his Florida resorts
He defended his business record more thoroughly than he outlined his policy proposals for the country.
While recent losses to Cruz have raised questions about Trump’s standing, the latest contests marked another lost opportunity for rivals to stop his march to the nomination. Next week’s winner-take-all contests in Ohio and Florida seem to be the last chance to block him short of a contested convention fight.
In Michigan, Kasich finished on the third place, behind Trump and Cruz. It surely was not what he expected as he is heading into next week’s crucial contest in his home state.
Rubio, whose appeal with party leaders hasn’t been reciprocated by voters, insisted that he would press on to Florida.
“It has to happen here, and it has to happen now,” Rubio told supporters at a Sarasota rally.
The GOP primary appears set to become a two-person race between Trump and Cruz, if Rubio and Kasich can’t win at home. The Texas senator is sticking close in the delegate count and with seven states in his win column, he’s argued that he is the only candidate standing between Trump and the GOP nomination.
At a campaign stop at a North Carolina church, Cruz went after Trump for asking rally attendees to pledge their allegiance to him. Cruz mentioned that the move struck him as “profoundly wrong” and was something “kings and queens demand” of their subjects.
For voters in Michigan and Mississippi, the economy ranked high on the list of concerns. At least 8 in 10 in each party’s primary said they were worried about where the economy is heading. Among Democrats, 8 in 10 voters in both states said that the country’s economic system benefits the wealthy, not all Americans.
Sanders thought to tap into that concern by energizing young people and white, blue-collar voters with his calls for breaking up Wall Street banks and making tuition free at public colleges and universities. Michigan, which has big college towns and a sizable population of working-class voters, was a good fit for him.
However, Sanders has struggled mightily with black voters who are crucial to Democrats in the general election. In Mississippi, black voters comprised about two-thirds of the Democratic electorate and nearly 9 in 10 backed Clinton.
After the latest results, Clinton has accumulated 1,221 delegates and Sanders 571, including superdelegates. Democrats need 2,383 delegates to win the nomination.
Among Republicans, Trump has at least 446 and Cruz 347. Rubio has 151 and Kasich has at least 54. They need 1,237 more to win the GOP nomination.
These are the facts in the present. Things may change and there are plenty of things that could happen next.
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