The race to be the next president of the United States has its most important day so far Tuesday as candidates compete in 11 states. Those trailing in polls hope to make major moves to catch a pair of frontrunners who lead by double digits.
Tuesday is hugely important for Republicans with businessman Donald Trump riding a three-state winning streak and favored in 10 of the so-called «Super Tuesday» states. Trump trails only in the southern state of Texas, where Senator Ted Cruz hopes to capture his home turf.
The key will not be how many states Trump wins, but how well Cruz and fellow Senator Marco Rubio perform since the delegates needed to eventually secure the Republican nomination are awarded proportionally in Tuesday’s nominating contests.
In the Democratic race, a CNN/ORC poll released Monday showed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton widening her national lead over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders at 55 to 38 percent. Clinton also has a huge lead in the Democratic delegates awarded so far.
Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during her primary night gathering at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, Feb. 27, 2016.
That same poll shows 49 percent of Republicans support Trump, more than his four remaining challengers combined. His closest challenger was Rubio at 16 percent, followed by Cruz at 15 percent. Other national polls from the past week put Trump’s support under 40 percent and both Rubio and Cruz around 20 percent each.
Both the Republicans and Democrats will officially name their nominees at conventions in July, but a candidate can get an early start on campaigning for the general election in November by quickly getting enough delegates to clinch the nomination.
Rubio is looking forward to March 15 as a big day for his campaign. That is when his home state of Florida holds its primary and awards its entire large batch of delegates to the winner.
Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz eyes a supporter reaching to shake his hand during a rally at Liberty Plaza in Atlanta, Feb. 27, 2016.
Cruz worries Trump ‘unstoppable’
Cruz is warning that the «Trump train» could be «unstoppable» if he wins big victories Tuesday. Cruz repeatedly tells voters he is the only candidate to have defeated Trump so far, in the first caucus in Iowa, although Trump has subsequently won contests in three other states.
Republicans campaigned Monday in the South, which accounts for two-thirds of the delegates that will be awarded Tuesday. Trump held events in Virginia and Georgia, while Rubio campaigned in Arkansas. Cruz focused his efforts on his home state and the 155 delegates at stake there.
Clinton, looking to a possible general election against Trump, has also started to aim attacks at him and the remaining Republican contenders, all but ignoring Sanders, her immediate opponent.
«What we can’t let happen is the scapegoating, the blaming, the finger pointing that is going on the Republican side,» Clinton told voters Monday in Massachusetts. «It really undermines our fabric as a nation. So, I want to do everything I can in this campaign to set us on a different course.»