[Breaking news alert, posted at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday]
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will both win the Tennessee and Alabama primaries and Trump will also win in Massachusetts, according to CNN projections.
[Previous story, posted at 7:47 p.m. ET Tuesday]
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have landed their first major Super Tuesday wins as they seek to tighten their grips on the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations.
CNN projects that Clinton and Trump will win the big prize of Georgia. Clinton also is projected to win the Democratic primary in Virginia, while Bernie Sanders will take his home state of Vermont.
Clinton’s victories in Georgia and Virginia will be taken as further evidence of her strength among African-American voters WHOM she would need to mobilize in a general election, following her huge win in South Carolina on Saturday.
Trump’s early win in Georgia is the first concrete sign that he may be about to inflict a disappointing night on one of his top rivals, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who once saw his strength among evangelicals as the key to a possible sweep of the Deep South.
Voting has ended in three of 12 states with primaries and caucuses on Super Tuesday, the most consequential day yet in the presidential race.
The Super Tuesday contests are a delegate bonanza for front-runners and a test of survival for others as voters went to the polls across the nation, including in the Deep South, in Colorado and Texas, in ice-bound Alaska and Minnesota.
Trump is expected to notch a large number of victories that could help him stretch his lead in the GOP White House battle and underscore his growing support across all sectors of the Republican coalition. Those wins could come despite being embroiled in a GOP fight that has rival candidates and party elders, desperate to stop his march to the nomination, branding him unfit for the presidency.
Cruz faces a must-win primary in his home state of Texas, while Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is a long shot to squeeze out his debut victory of the campaign after ditching his previously elevated and aspirational campaign to wage a bitter and personal war of words with Trump.
Sanders, who is keen to challenge the growing narrative that the former secretary of state is now on track to win the nomination, hopes to halt the Clinton tide in Minnesota, Colorado and Oklahoma, in addition to Vermont.
“This campaign is not just about electing a president,” Sanders said at a rally Tuesday night in Vermont. “It is about transforming America.”
A total of 595 Republican delegates are up for grabs in 11 states of the 1,237 needed to clinch the GOP nomination in 11 states. Sanders and Clinton are facing off in 11 states for 865 of the 2,383 delegates needed to win the Democratic race.
A pivotal moment
Super Tuesday comes at a pivotal moment in the Republican race. It has finally dawned on rival campaigns and alarmed party establishment figures that Trump — after three thumping wins in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — will win the nomination unless there is a dramatic reversal of fortunes.
In an unusual move that reflected his booming confidence, Trump held a rally in Ohio, a state that is not taking part in Super Tuesday but holds a crucial winner-take-all primary in two weeks. In the latest surreal twist to his increasingly bizarre showdown with Rubio, Trump said that he had “beautiful hands” after the Florida senator asked at an earlier rally why the real estate mogul’s hands were so small.
Cruz, speaking to reporters before casting his ballot in Houston, did not wait for the results to roll in before signaling that he will try to nudge Rubio and Kasich out of the race.
“If you want to beat Donald Trump, we’ve got to get to a head-to-head, one-on-one race,” Cruz said. “What Donald is benefiting from is a fractured opposition.”
But Rubio, who held election day rallies in Oklahoma and Minnesota, made it clear that he isn’t going anywhere.
“I will campaign in all 50 states. I will get in my pickup truck and drive around this country if I have to before I allow the party of Lincoln and Reagan to fall into the hands of a con man,” Rubio said, referring to Trump.
Trump, who has turned American politics upside down with his outsider campaign, nationwide media blitz and crusade against political correctness, went into Super Tuesday with his polling hitting new peaks.
Super Tuesday was once seen by the Cruz campaign as the moment when he would build on his support among ideological and evangelical conservative voters and sweep across the South. But Trump upset his best-laid plans.
Now Cruz is left with a nervous wait to see if he will win his home state of Texas, which has the most delegates available Tuesday with 155. Failure to convert a win on home ground would effectively end his campaign.
It won’t be possible for Trump to clinch the nomination outright Tuesday night. The contests will award delegates proportionally based on a candidate’s share of the vote as long as they reach a certain threshold.
Rubio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are clinging to the hope that they could win their own states on March 15, when contests start to become winner-take-all affairs, and eventually overhaul Trump’s delegate total.
Clinton’s aides know that she cannot knock out Sanders on Tuesday, but they hope to end the night with a lead of around 100 earned delegates.
Sanders is making clear that despite the size of his defeat in South Carolina he is nowhere near giving up his campaign, though the candidate himself appears to have rock-bottom expectations in the South.
In Massachusetts, in his last pre-Super Tuesday rally on Monday night, the Vermont senator had an upbeat message.
“Tomorrow there will be 700 delegates up for deciding. We anticipate winning many of them and a majority of them right here in Massachusetts,” he said.
Clinton, however, appeared to be looking toward the general election — and Donald Trump.
“I was very disappointed that he did not disavow what appears to be support from David Duke and the Klan,” the former secretary of state told reporters. “That is exactly the kind of statement that should be repudiated upon hearing it.”