Establishment favourite Marco Rubio backs out following humiliating defeat in home state: Trump carries Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, Missouri: Kasich takes Ohio
At yesterday’s round of primary elections Trump cemented his lead, taking four of five states up for grabs. In Illinois and Florida he took wide leads over his opponents, gaining respectively 46% and 39% of the vote, while North Carolina and Missouri were fiercely contested with Ted Cruz, eventually ending with narrow victories for Trump. Incumbent Ohio governor John Kasich won Ohio.
Senator Marco Rubio, once regarded as the young hope of the Republican Party, has suspended his campaign after conceding defeat to Trump in his home state of Florida. Trump’s win comes amid predictions of a clear victory for Mr. Rubio among core republican voters in the populous state. The strategy of Mr. Rubio, who has fared badly in most primaries since Super Tuesday, relied on the delegates from a victory in Florida to boost his chance of nomination. This strategy proved a failure in light of Trump’s lead of nearly 20%, and Mr. Rubio’s losses in all but one district.
Yesterday’s elections were very important due to the fact that delegates in two of the major states, Florida and Ohio, are distributed according to the winner-takes-all principle, thereby awarding huge numbers of delegates to the victorious candidates. Under this system, Trump carried all 99 delegates from Florida, greatly boosting his lead over Mr. Cruz and his other opponents.
Kasich carried his home state Ohio by a large margin over Trump, securing an astounding 47% of the vote. The polls had predicted a close tie between him and Trump, and a possible defeat was widely regarded as the end of his campaign, as was the case with Rubio in Florida. However, his popularity as governor was also reflected at the ballot casting, and he took all 66 delegates in the winner-takes-all state, adding greatly to his total delegate count.
If Trump had secured victories in all three big states, his nomination would have been a reality before the convention, but his loss to Mr. Kasich deprives him of Illinois’ vital delegates needed to reach an absolute majority of the 2.472 delegates, the prerequisite for a nomination. If this majority is not obtained, Trump will be much more vulnerable to Party elite intrigues at the Republican national convention itself.
Following the departure of Mr. Rubio, Kasich has gained a reputation as the new establishment favourite, but his showing is weak compared to Cruz and Trump. Mr. Cruz has proved himself to be a serious contender in the race, winning several states, including Texas and Oklahoma, and is second in the race by delegate count. With minor exceptions, however, Mr. Cruz is deeply unpopular among the traditional Republican elite, as is the case with Trump.
With one major candidate out of the race, and Trump poised to secure the nomination, the Republican presidential race is proving to be one of the key events in contemporary American politics.