WASHINGTON (AP) – Hillary Clinton claimed Super Tuesday victories in the Georgia and Virginia Democratic primaries, while rival Bernie Sanders carried his home state of Vermont. Republican races in those states were too close to call as polls closed.
Super Tuesday marked the busiest day of the 2016 primaries, with the biggest single-day delegate haul up for grabs. With elections being held in every region of the country, the contests were putting a spotlight on candidates’ strengths and weaknesses with a broad swath of American voters.
For Clinton, as well as Republican front-runner Donald Trump, the voting marked an opportunity to begin pulling away from their rivals and charting a course toward the general election. Each entered Super Tuesday having won three of four early voting contests, and more strong showings could start putting the nominations out of reach for other contenders.
Clinton led in both Virginia and Georgia among both men and women, as well as black voters. Sanders continued to show strength with young voters, carrying the majority of those under the age of 30, according to early exit polls conducted by Edison Research for The Associated Press and television networks.
Democrats were voting in 11 states and American Samoa on Tuesday, with 865 delegates up for grabs. Republicans were voting in 11 states, with 595 delegates at stake.
The contests come at a turbulent time for the GOP, given Trump’s strengths. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz have launched furious verbal attacks on the billionaire businessman in recent days, but some in the party establishment fear the anti-Trump campaign has come too late.
Cruz once saw the Southern states that vote Tuesday as his opportunity to stake his claim to the nomination. Now his campaign’s future hinges on a victory in his home state of Texas, the biggest prize up for grabs.
Rubio’s goal is even more modest. He’s seeking to stay competitive in the delegate count and hoping to pull off a win in his home state of Florida on March 15.