FLORIDA – It was the last chance for Marco Rubio to cement his position as a candidate in the Republican nomination race. Despite support from the Republican establishment, Rubio failed to defeat Donald Trump in his home state of Florida, leading to him suspending his presidential campaign. It’s a crushing defeat for Rubio, which is even more stunning when the scale of Trump’s victory is considered. Trump won 1,077,221 votes (46%) to Rubio’s 636,653 (27%) and took every single county other than Miami-Dade – where Senator Rubio is based. Trump’s victory is crucial as Florida awards its delegates on a winner-take-all basis that awarded him all 99 delegates.

In other states Trump performed well. He won the states of Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina beating Ted Cruz – his main challenger in conservative states whom Trump calls “Lyin’ Ted”. Although the scale of Trump’s victory in these states was small; for example, he defeated Cruz in Missouri with just 0.2 per cent of the vote.

However, hopes remain that Trump will fall short of the necessary 1,237 delegates he needs to secure the party’s nomination after Governor John Kasich won his home state of Ohio – beating Donald Trump by 11 per cent. Which also awards delegates on a winner-take-all basis. John Kasich won 66 delegates, almost doubling his total, and is now the last ‘moderate’ in the Republican race. In his victory speech, Kasich positioned himself as the only Republican with broad enough support to defeat Hillary Clinton in November. Ohio is a crucial swing state in US Presidential Elections and Kasich concluded by saying “As Ohio goes, so does the nation”.

Although it remains mathematically impossible for Governor Kasich to win the required delegates. His best chance is for Trump to fall short of the 1,237 delegates and hope for a contested convention in July. Where party officials could snub Trump and chose a candidate more ‘palatable’ for the election in November. We are past the halfway point in the primary process, and we are still looking at a long Republican battle.

Meanwhile, the Democratic nomination has turned into more of a coronation for Hillary Clinton as she greatly extended her lead over Senator Bernie Sanders. Clinton won all five states voting on Tuesday and results show she retains strong support from ethnic minorities. In Florida, for instance, where she defeated Sanders by 34 per cent.

Sanders failed to capitalise on his surprise win in Michigan and build up further support across the Midwest, where he performs strongly amongst college-educated whites. Even in  demographically favourable states like Illinois and Missouri, he won just 49 per cent of the vote. Unless Sanders can turnaround his low levels of support amongst ethnic minorities, it’s difficult to see where he can go next.

The current delegate totals are:

Republicans: Trump 673, Cruz 410, Kasich, 143 (1,237 to win)

Democrats: Clinton 1139, Sanders 825 (2,383 to win)

Cameron Martin, Correspondent (Politics)