REPUBLICAN Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has shrugged off endorsements by the Ku Klux Klan and the French far right to maintain his lead as 11 of the mainland US states go to the polls.
Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia will all select both their Republican and Democratic nominees for November’s election in what is known as Super Tuesday in the US.
Last week Trump was endorsed by David Duke, former leader of white supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan, as well as Jean Marie Le Pen of the far-right Front National in France.
In an interview with CNN Trump claimed he did not know what white supremacists were and so could not comment.
More mainstream figures have also rushed to endorse Trump as his lead appears to strengthen, including several sitting and retired senators.
A clear majority of states voting for Trump today would set him well on his way to reaching the threshold he needs.
The Hillary Clinton campaign has been making efforts to portray the former Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs as the only viable candidate and encouraging people to strengthen her position before the elections proper begin as a mark of party solidarity.
So far Clinton is slightly ahead of the target for nomination, with 120 per cent of necessary votes, compared to 80 per cent for Sanders, based on analysis by respected statistician Nate Silver.
Today is considered the last opportunity for Bernie Sanders to show his campaign credentials in his outsider run against Mrs Clinton.
Sanders was soundly beaten in the South Carolina primary last weekend but the run-in of states is potentially beneficial for him if he can reach certain demographics.
Each US state has set number of delegates who go on to nominate eventual presidential nominees at Conventions, the American equivalent of party conferences, in the summer.
So far Sanders’ narrow losses and a few victories over Clinton have kept him in the running.
The Sanders campaign has identified industrial towns in states such as Virginia, Minnesota and Pennsylvania as key battlegrounds.
Clinton has taken a lead thanks to superdelegates in particular – party figures with permanent convention voting rights, but Sanders is hopeful that he can recover.
Yesterday he addressed crowds in Minneapolis, telling them: “Let us make history tomorrow.”
Sanders has raised $36 million in a month from over 1.6 million individual contributors.
Of all the presidential hopefuls he has the fewest business sponsors, and until this month did not even have a full campaign website.
If he can avoid defeats on Super Tuesday he will likely remain a viable candidate well into the spring.
A key target for Sanders will be the populous New York State, with the left wing veteran banking on strong support in the North East’s populous and traditionally more liberally-inclined cities.