Welcome to Elimination Tuesday, in which the candidacies of John Kasich and Marco Rubio are on the line in their home states of Ohio and Florida. But that’s a mere fraction of today’s hugely consequential votes.
Florida (99 Republican delegates, 246 for Democrats)
Georgia’s southern neighbor is Rubio’s last stand, and the hometown kid remains the underdog to Donald Trump. The front-runner, who has succeeded mightily in the South and has a sprawling home in Palm Beach, is crushing it in the polls here. But if Ted Cruz can siphon away enough evangelical votes from Trump in the panhandle and Orlando area, and Rubio's Miami base turns out big for him, Rubio could have a shot at all of the state’s delegates in this winner-take-all contest. Such an outcome would considerably narrow Trump’s chances to earn an outright majority of delegates before the convention.
For the Democrats, it’s another minority-heavy Southern state, ergo Hillary Clinton should cruise over Bernie Sanders. But Sanders’ shocking Michigan win last week has his team thinking the trajectory of the race might have shifted – and that polls showing Clinton with a big lead should be taken with a hulking grain of salt.
Polls: Florida Times-Union (March 13): Trump 44, Rubio 26, Cruz 18, Kasich 10. Trafalgar Group (March 12-13):Trump 44, Rubio 24, Cruz 20, Kasich 9. ARG (March 11-13): Trump 49, Rubio 24, Cruz 16, Kasich 8; Clinton 58, Sanders 37. Quinnipiac (March 8-13): Trump 46, Rubio 22, Cruz 14, Kasich 10; Clinton 60, Sanders 34.
Candidate visits: The Republicans debated in Miami on Thursday, and the Democrats did so on Friday. Rubio has camped out here pretty much since SEC Primary day. His Monday closing kick took him to Melbourne, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach and Miami. Trump was in Tampa on Monday. Cruz was in Orlando on Friday.
Sanders rallied Thursday in Gainesville, Kissimmee and Tampa. Hillary Clinton was in Tampa on Thursday. Bill Clinton was in Tallahassee, Jacksonville and Winter Park on Monday.
Links: Even in Rubio’s South Florida base, some voters are looking to fellow Cuban-American Cruz as the best shot to stop Trump. (Greg Bluestein, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Sanders’ campaign trumpets Michigan at every opportunity to say he could pull a similar surprise in Florida. (Greg Bluestein, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
More than 2 million people voted early, smashing records. (Palm Beach Post)
North Carolina (72 GOP delegates, 121 for Democrats)
The voting profile in the Tar Heel state is somewhere between Virginia and Tennessee, which bodes well for Trump. The billionaire will stock up on military and rural voters and is expected to win. But it will be interested to see whether the anti-Trump vote in the Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte suburbs tilts toward Cruz in a proportional state with lots of delegates for the taking.
If it’s a Southern state, Clinton is expected to dominate again – though North Carolina does have more white liberals than its Deep South counterparts, which could allow Sanders to keep things reasonable.
Polls: Public Policy Polling (March 11-13): Trump 44, Cruz 33, Kasich 11, Rubio 7; Clinton 56, Sanders 37. SurveyUSA (March 9-10): Trump 48, Cruz 28, Kasich 12, Rubio 8; Clinton 58, Sanders 34. Civitas (March 5-7): Trump 32, Cruz 26, Kasich 11, Rubio 11; Clinton 57, Sanders 28.
Candidate visits: Trump was in Hickory on Monday. Cruz was in Concord on Sunday.
Sanders was in Raleigh on Friday and Charlotte on Monday. Clinton was in Durham on Thursday and Charlotte on Monday. Bill Clinton was in Winston-Salem and Asheville on Sunday, and Greenville on Monday.
Links: Moving the primary up from May gave North Carolina more sway this year, but it’s still overshadowed by Ohio and Florida – with no television ads blanketing the state – because it awards its delegates proportionally, rather than winner-take-all. (Fayetteville Observer)
A Fayetteville sheriff considered charging Trump with inciting a riot for his comments at a rally where a protester was assaulted, but decided against it. (Raleigh News and Observer)
And yet, stumping in Hickory, Trump called his campaign a “love fest.” (Charlotte Observer)
Ohio (66 GOP delegates, 159 for Democrats)
Kasich has staked his entire campaign on the state he governs. He still has not won anywhere, but believes the establishment will eventually see him as the best foil to Trump if he can win here and kick-start his candidacy. Like Florida, denying Trump a win in this winner-take-all state narrows the mogul’s path to a majority of delegates before the race returns here for the Cleveland convention. Kasich is quite popular here among Republicans, but he’s in a nailbiter with the Trump machine – and the billionaire’s trade-focused message plays well in the Rust Belt.
This state is similar demographically to its neighbor Michigan, so Sanders is hitting it hard and setting up a tight race with Clinton.
Polls: Monmouth (March 11-13): Kasich 40, Trump 35, Cruz 15, Rubio 5; Clinton 54, Sanders 40. ARG (March 12-13): Kasich 44, Trump 38, Cruz 12, Rubio 2; Clinton 52, Sanders 45. Quinnipiac (March 8-13): Kasich 38, Trump 38, Cruz 16, Rubio 3; Clinton 51, Sanders 46.
Candidate visits: Kasich has been working the state almost exclusively for the past week, closing on Monday with stops in Youngstown, North Canton and Westerville. Trump was in Dayton and Cleveland on Saturday, Cincinnati on Sunday and Youngstown on Monday. Cruz was in Columbus on Sunday.
The Democrats had a forum on Sunday in Columbus. Clinton was in Cleveland and Youngstown on Saturday, and then Sanders hit the same pair of cities on Monday. Bill Clinton was in Cincinnati and Akron on Saturday.
Links: Kasich rolled out the big guns in the closing days on the trail, in what could be his last stand: Mitt Romney, Arnold Schwarzenegger and, most importantly, five past or present Ohio State football coaches. (Dayton Daily News)
While the overall vote could be tight, the delegate math favors Clinton here: Heavily African-American congressional districts in Cleveland, Columbus and Youngstown will hand out the most delegates to the winners. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
A judge has allowed 17-year-olds to vote in the Ohio primary, as long as they will turn 18 by November’s general election. This was a win for Sanders. (Washington Post)
Illinois (69 GOP delegates, 182 for Democrats)
Trump’s decision to cancel a Chicago rally in the face of huge organized protests has been the dominant story leading into Tuesday’s votes. The result could be a Trump surge in the Chicago suburbs, among people who side with the billionaire and believe he had his rights to free speech denied (his ample speech Friday evening on the news networks to talk about the cancellation notwithstanding).
This is not winner-take-all, meaning that rural downstate congressional districts could allow Cruz to pick up some delegates.
In Barack Obama’s home state, Clinton has hugged the current president the tightest and performs well with the black voters who dominate Chicago. She also spent her childhood here. But Sanders’ success in Michigan shows a Midwestern appeal that has spread to Illinois and made this perhaps the tightest contest voting today.
Polls: CBS/YouGov (March 9-11) Trump 38, Cruz 34, Kasich 16, Rubio 11; Sanders 48, Clinton 46. NBC/Wall Street Journal (March 4-10) Trump 34, Cruz 25, Kasich 21, Rubio 16; Clinton 51, Sanders 45. Public Policy Polling (March 11-12) Clinton 48, Sanders 45.
Candidate visits: Trump canceled his Chicago rally on Friday but made it to Bloomington on Sunday. Cruz was in Peoria, Rockford, Springfield, Decatur and Glen Ellyn on Monday.
Sanders was in Summit on Friday and Champaign on Saturday. Clinton was in Vernon Hills on Thursday and Chicago on Monday. Bill Clinton was in Peoria on Friday.
Links: Both Clintons have campaigned hard in the Chicago area as polls show a tight race, and a loss in Hillary Clinton’s native state would be an embarrassment. (Chicago Tribune)
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is out stumping for Clinton, but he’s so unpopular he could be a drag on her chances. (Huffington Post)
Campaigning in Rockford, Cruz hit Trump for donating money to imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, saying “never once was I tempted to write a check to Blago.” (Politico)
Missouri (52 GOP delegates, 84 for Democrats)
This is Cruz’s best shot at a big victory today. He won neighboring states Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma; and the electorate is heavy on evangelicals. But Trump plays well here, too. Watch his numbers in suburban St. Louis, which has been a cauldron of racial unrest for the past year, centered on Ferguson.
This is another tight Midwestern contest on the Democratic side, with Sanders feeling the wind at his back from his Michigan win and Clinton aiming to turn out black voters in St. Louis and Kansas City.
Candidate visits: Trump was in St. Louis on Friday and Kansas City on Saturday. Cruz was in Kansas City, Ballwin, Springfield and Cape Girardeau on Saturday.
Sanders was in Springfield on Saturday and St. Charles on Monday. Clinton was in St. Louis on Saturday. Bill Clinton was in Kansas City and Springfield on Friday.
Links: Four people were charged with disorderly conduct at a Trump rally in Kansas City (Kansas City Star)
On the Republican side, the state is not pure winner-take-all, but a candidate could win all of the delegates if he wins all the congressional districts. Democrats divvy up their delegates proportionally with a 15 percent minimum threshold. (Associated Press)
Northern Mariana Islands (9 GOP delegates)
Cruz has done well in caucuses and in hunting delegates in remote areas – and it’s hard to get more remote than these South Pacific islands -- but Trump has the endorsement of Gov. Ralph Torres.
Voters here hold disproportionate power. In 2012 there were 848 votes cast in the caucuses, and they hand out nine delegates – more than one delegate per 100 votes. Florida hands out 99 delegates this year, and 1.6 million votes were cast in 2012 – or one delegate per 16,000 votes.
Candidate visits: Nope.
Links: Cruz made a last-minute appeal for votes with a statement, saying the Northern Marianas “are of greater significance than ever as the world pivots toward the Pacific.” (Marianas Variety)