Tuesday was the latest major primary day of the 2016 presidential election, and it might have been the most consequential Election Day so far. Five states voted, one candidate dropped out, and two candidates strengthened their grips on their respective nominations.
Those two candidates, of course, were Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Both Trump and Clinton came into the day as unquestionable frontrunners for their party’s nomination, and dominant performances from both candidates on Tuesday did nothing to change that. Trump took home four out of five states, while Clinton swept all five.
The candidate whose campaign came to an end was Marco Rubio, who was left no choice but to bow out of the race after suffering a devastating to Trump loss in his home state of Florida.
Florida was the first of four big wins for Trump, who also defeated his opponents in Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina. The only state where Trump fell short was Ohio — a state which, had he won, would’ve all but secured his path to the nomination. Instead, Ohio Gov. John Kasich picked up a campaign-saving victory in The Buckeye State and took home all of Ohio’s 66 delegates.
Trump was denied a knock-out punch Tuesday night, but Kasich’s hometown heroics might have only postponed the inevitable for Republicans.
Kasich’s win gives his campaign new life, but only in the sense that it lives to fight another primary. The Ohio governor’s only victory thus far is his home state, and polling averages on Real Clear Politics have him well behind both Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the remaining primary states. Not only does Kasich have far fewer delegates than the two GOP frontrunners, but he’s still trailing Rubio — who is no longer a candidate. And right now, it’s not clear where and if he can win another state.
Not long ago, several Republicans were jockeying to be their party’s anti-Trump, establishment favorite. With Rubio out of the race and Kasich facing a likely insurmountable deficit, it’s looking more and more like Trump or Cruz will be the nominee. And after last night’s results — barring a shocking reversal of dozens of primaries and caucuses at a contested convention — the nomination appears to be Trump’s to lose.
Tuesday night brought much of the same for the Democratic side. Clinton went into the night as the strong favorite to win the nomination, and emerged even stronger after sweeping all five states.
Most expected Clinton to do well on Tuesday, and polls predicted big wins for the former secretary of state in Florida and North Carolina. But Clinton’s shocking loss in Michigan last week and tight polling in Ohio, Illinois and Missouri hinted that Tuesday could be a big day for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who needed to win big in states like Ohio to trim Clinton’s large delegate lead.
But if the Sanders campaign is eventually going to catch fire and start challenging Clinton for the nomination, it certainly didn’t start last night. Clinton not only took home double-digit wins in Florida, Ohio and North Carolina, but she also edged the senator in Missouri and Illinois — two states in which Sanders was expected to do well.
Junior government and politics major Christopher Walkup, president of the UMD student group, Terps for Bernie, says he is disappointed with Tuesday’s results, particularly with Sanders’s loss in Ohio.
“I was hopeful that we could win Missouri, Ohio, and Illinois,” Walkup said. “I was pretty dissapointed by our narrow loss in Illinois and devastated by our loss in Ohio. Some analysis that I’ve seen stated that independents went to vote for their governor, John Kasich, over Bernie, but even if that is the case it is still a disheartening loss.”
With her sweep of the five states that voted on Tuesday, Clinton now has over 300 more pledged delegates than Sanders. And given the fact that all Democratic primaries and caucuses award delegates proportionally, it’s hard to see how Sanders can stop Clinton from locking up the nomination in the coming weeks and months.
Despite Sanders’s struggles on Tuesday and Clinton’s lead in the race, Walkup is optimistic about the senator’s chances going forward and forsees Sanders picking up some big wins in the near future.
“We have a really good couple of weeks ahead of us,” Walkup said, adding that the next month consists of several states in which Sanders should do well. “While Bernie is trailing by over 300 delegates now, he might be able to cut that deficit down significantly by winning almost every caucus in the next month, which means he could steal be in the running [in April]. The campaign, and I, are still in this to win.”