Bernie Sanders breathed new life into his White House bid with a vital win in Michigan’s primary, chipping at Hillary Clinton’s dominance in the Democratic presidential race.
Republican Donald Trump swept to victory in Michigan, Mississippi and Hawaii, overcoming fierce efforts to blunt his momentum.
Even with Sanders’ win on Tuesday night, Mrs Clinton and Mr Trump moved closer to a general election face-off. Mrs Clinton breezed to an easy victory in Mississippi, propelled by support from black voters, and she now has more than half the delegates she needs to clinch the Democratic nomination at the national convention in July. Mr Trump, too, padded his lead over Texas senator Ted Cruz.
Mr Trump entered Tuesday’s contests facing questions about his durability and ended the night with convincing victories in the Mississippi and Michigan primaries and in caucuses in Hawaii. Mr Cruz added a win in Idaho, arguing he’s the only candidate who can stop Mr Trump.
Florida senator Marco Rubio suffered another drubbing, failing to pick up any delegates in Michigan and Mississippi. He faces a critical contest in Florida next week. Similarly, Ohio governor John Kasich desperately needs to win his home state next Tuesday to stay in the race. Mr Kasich finished third in Michigan.
With the prospect of a Trump nomination growing more likely, rival campaigns and outside groups have stepped up efforts to discredit the property mogul. But the flood of attacks on his business record and temperament have failed to slow his advance. “Every single person who has attacked me has gone down,” Mr Trump said at one of his Florida resorts.
While a handful of recent losses to Mr Cruz have raised questions about Mr Trump’s standing, Tuesday’s contests marked another lost opportunity for rivals desperate to stop his march to the nomination. Next week’s winner-take-all contests in Ohio and Florida loom as perhaps the last chance to block him short of a contested convention fight.
Mr Rubio, whose appeal with party leaders hasn’t been reciprocated by voters, insisted he would press on.
After Tuesday’s results, Clinton has accumulated 1,214 delegates and Sanders 566, including superdelegates – members of Congress, governors and party officials who can support the candidate of their choice at the convention. Democrats need 2,383 delegates to win the nomination.
With Tuesday’s wins, Mr Trump leads the Republican field with 446 delegates, followed by Mr Cruz with 347, Mr Rubio with 151 and Mr Kasich with 54. Winning the nomination requires 1,237 delegates.