What to Watch For On Maryland Primary Day

With most state primaries and caucuses in the rear-view mirror, presidential contenders turn their attention today to five states in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Among those states is Maryland, a state that normally doesn’t play a major role in presidential politics. Today, the stakes in Maryland and other states might be higher than ever.

Before heading to the polls today, here are a few things you should know about Primary Day in Maryland and in the other four states that make up today’s ‘Acela Primary’:

Maryland Presidential Primary: Clinton, Trump in the lead as voters head to the polls

While there’s still a lot that we don’t know about about the 2016 presidential race, the race in Maryland appears to be fairly predictable for both parties.

Frontrunners Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton both hold sizable leads in the state, and it’s unlikely that their rivals can pull off a shocking victory today.

According to polling averages on Real Clear Politics, Trump leads Ohio Gov. John Kasich by 21 points. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz trails further behind in third place. On the Democratic side, Clinton leads Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders by 24 points.

Given their large leads, both Trump and Clinton are in line to take home most of Maryland’s delegates to their respective nominating conventions.

A total of 38 delegates are at stake on the Republican side, with the state’s overall winner being awarded 14 delegates. The remaining delegates will be awarded three at a time to the winner of each of Maryland’s eight congressional districts.

A total of 95 pledged delegates will be awarded for Democrats, with 31 going to the overall winner and the remaining 64 being awarded proportionally to the winners of Maryland’s eight congressional districts.

Replacing Mikulski: A tight Senate race set for photo finish

Ever since Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) announced that she would be retiring after nearly three decades in the Senate, some of Maryland’s most prominent Democrats have been fighting hard to become the party’s nominee to fill the vacant seat in the fall.

Given the fact that Maryland is a deep-blue state, the Democrats’ nominee will likely be the next U.S. Senator from Maryland — making the stakes especially high in today’s primary.

The race, which has become a two-way battle between U.S. Representatives Chris Van Hollen and Donna Edwards, is highly unpredictable. Polls over the last few weeks have shown both candidates ahead at different points, and many expect a razor-sharp finish in today’s contest.

Other Races: Acela Primary looks good for frontrunners

Trump and Clinton are not only expected to do well in Maryland, but polls show that they may very well sweep all five states today. Polls show Trump and Clinton leading in Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, and today’s results could further cement their already-significant delegate leads and front-runner status.

According to polling averages on Real Clear Politics, Trump leads Kasich by over 26 percentage points in Connecticut. His lead over Kasich is close to 30 points in Rhode Island, and he holds a similar lead over Cruz in Pennsylvania.

While Clinton’s lead over Sanders in these states isn’t as large as Trump’s, she’s still in a comfortable position heading into one of the most delegate-rich primary days of the election calendar. Polling averages have Clinton up by 16 points in Pennsylvania. Limited polling shows tighter races in Connecticut and Rhode Island, with Clinton holding slim leads over Sanders in both.

At this point in the election cycle, the nominees for both parties have usually already been decided. This year, however, the results of the so-called ‘Acela Primary’ could have a a major impact on the race, specifically on the Republican side.

While it’s mathematically impossible for Cruz and Kasich to win the nomination before the convention, the two are working hard to prevent Trump from securing the necessary delegates to become the nominee on the first ballot.

With hundreds of delegates at stake today, states that normally vote as a formality have a chance to shape the remainder of the 2016 presidential election.