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Politics

Trump Deals Fatal Blow To Rubio In Fla., But Kasich Stops Him In Ohio; Clinton Sweeps

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Gov. John Kasich celebrates his Ohio primary victory at Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, Ohio.
Brendan Smialowski, AFP/Getty Images
Gov. John Kasich celebrates his Ohio primary victory at Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, Ohio.

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.

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

Overall though, it's still on pace to be a very good night for Trump, as he picked up wins in North Carolina and Illinois, according to AP projections.

On the Democratic side, Clinton is projected to defeat Sanders in Illinois, Ohio, North Carolina and Florida, according to the AP, helping her pad her delegate lead over the Vermont senator. Clinton also has a very narrow lead over Sanders in Missouri, which hasn't yet been called.

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"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 on Tuesday. But a loss in Ohio dimmed some of that hope early on in the day. And with Clinton winning every states on 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, 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 him reason to stay in the race, even though it was his first win of the primary. 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 Western contests.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, was hoping to edge out Trump in Missouri to get a win on the board, argued his campaign was the only one with 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 is happening in each state:

Missouri

With all votes counted, Trump has a 1,636 vote margin over Cruz. The AP , however, has not yet called the race. 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 their first victory on Tuesday night Delegates are also 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 had also not yet called a winner.

Illinois

Clinton escaped with a narrow win over Sanders in the state. The Vermont senator had hoped his strength with white, blue-collar voters could have given him a late boost in the state, much like it did just a week ago in Michigan. Instead, his best hope at statewide victory looks like it could come in Missouri, not Illinois.

Trump won Illinois on the GOP side, besting Cruz by about 9 points. It's unclear yet how many delegates he will net though — the state awards them based on a complicated formula by congressional districts in addition to 15 delegates to the statewide winner.

Florida

Trump's win in Florida may be 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 could resurrect his campaign after under-performing across the country so far. But instead, it will write his political obituary.

Clinton's win in Florida is also significant. For Democrats, it's also the biggest delegate prize of the night, with 214 pledged delegates. Even if Sanders picks up other states as the night goes on, a big Florida win probably still gives her the most delegates.

Ohio

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 after a lackluster track record so far. 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 took just five delegates.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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