AP News Guide: Trump drives Rubio from race; 4 Clinton wins

AP News
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Posted: Mar 16, 2016 4:18 AM
AP News Guide: Trump drives Rubio from race; 4 Clinton wins

WASHINGTON (AP) — It's looking ever more like Trump vs. Clinton in the fall.

With some smudges left on that crystal ball, however.

Hillary Clinton blunted Bernie Sanders' drive in the latest Democratic primaries, extending a delegate lead that is starting to look unassailable.

Donald Trump, too, powered ahead in the delegate race, knocking Republican rival Marco Rubio out of the 2016 campaign. Yet he's a divisive figure in the party whom many want to stop — by denying him a majority of delegates if at all possible in the primaries and thrusting the fight into an extraordinary contested convention in the summer.

A look at the race after five big states voted Tuesday:

THE MATH

—After winning Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Illinois, Clinton now has a total of at least 1,561, including superdelegates; that's 66 percent of the total needed to win the Democratic nomination. Sanders has at least 800. It takes 2,383 to win the Democratic nomination.

Many of the Democratic delegates at stake Tuesday remain to be allocated pending more complete vote totals and results in Illinois and Missouri, where races with Sanders were close. But essentially she has a more than 2-1 lead with superdelegate support in the mix.

—Trump passed the halfway mark in the race for GOP delegates, with a total of at least 621 with his gains in Tuesday's contests. Ted Cruz has at least 396 delegates, John Kasich has 138 and Rubio left the race with 168. It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination for president.

Not all delegates have been allocated, but Trump took the biggest prize of the night, Florida, collecting all 99 delegates in that winner-take-all election. He also won Illinois and North Carolina, while fighting with Cruz late into the night for Missouri.

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THE PATH

John Kasich won Ohio, the state he governs, earning all 66 delegates. But it was his first win, deep in the primaries, and he has no plausible path to the nomination in what's left of that delegate-selection season. Only Texas Sen. Ted Cruz does, and that's a distinct longshot. The prime suspense among Republicans now is whether the brutal fight will go all the way to convention for the first time in decades.

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THE EXIT

Florida was Rubio's last chance to turn the race around, and his loss closed the book on a campaign that had held much promise but repeatedly underperformed. In withdrawing from the race, Rubio said the forces of disaffection that have propelled Trump are a "tsunami" and "we should have seen this coming."

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THE SURVEYS

Trump won Florida by sweeping nearly all categories of voters— men and women, rich and poor, the highly educated and those without college degrees, according to exit polls. His strength with Florida's educated Republican voters stood out from his performance in states including North Carolina and Illinois, where he won with a coalition of white, less educated and lower income voters.

Widespread support from black voters powered Clinton's victories in Florida, North Carolina and Ohio. In her strongest states Tuesday night, voters surveyed were more likely to say her policies were realistic than those of her opponent. Sanders appealed to voters looking for inspiration.

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Republican voters were on board with Trump's call for a temporary ban on non-U.S.-citizen Muslims coming into the country, according to early surveys of voters as they left polling stations. Two in three GOP voters in all five states supported that position. But majorities in all five said people in the U.S. illegally should be given a chance to stay — not all deported as Trump proposes.

Democratic voters in all five states see Clinton as the candidate with the better chance to beat Trump if he is the Republican nominee, the exit polling found.

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THE VOTERS

— "I'm hoping Trump, with his big rubber lips, will say 'Look, there's a way around this.' " — Joe Herzog, a 76-year-old retired carpenter from Boonville, Missouri, who hopes Trump will keep the U.S. out of foreign entanglements. Herzog, a two-time voter for President Barack Obama, voted for Trump.

—"It was very close between them. I just don't think Bernie has the experience at that top level of government to have as much clout as Hillary. Plus his plan is still a little foggy. He has never really come out and, y'know, his numbers don't seem to add up all the time." — James Barber, 46, a car salesman from Boonville, Missouri, on why he backed Clinton.

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