Donald Trump handily won primaries Tuesday in Mississippi and Michigan, solidifying his lead in the Republican field. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders picked up a major victory of his own in Michigan, narrowly defeating Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
The Associated Press called the Mississippi contest fairly early in the evening, and the New York billionaire finished comfortably ahead of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Trump also bested Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich in Michigan. The results are a disappointment for Kasich, who campaigned heavily in the Wolverine State since its electorate resembles that of his home state. Cruz picked up a win in Idaho’s vote later Tuesday.
Clinton, meanwhile, routed Sanders in Mississippi, which has a largely black Democratic electorate that has long favored the former Secretary of State.
The Vermont senator did, however, unexpectedly beat Clinton in Michigan. The race was called by the AP shortly after 11:30 p.m. Recent Michigan polls had Clinton well ahead of Sanders, but the latter’s last-minute push on issues such as Wall Street and trade clearly stuck with voters.
“What tonight means is that the Bernie Sanders campaign, the political revolution we’re talking about, is strong in every part of the country and frankly we believe ours strongest areas are yet to come,” Sanders said in a short statement Tuesday night before the race was called.
Prime time coverage on network TV focused heavily on Trump. Several of the major networks carried live, uninterrupted feeds of his press conference following his win. Noted Hadas Gold, Politico’s media reporter:
Trump’s wins Tuesday position him well for the upcoming batch of primary states, many of them critical winner-take-all contests.
The billionaire held his victory speech at his campaign headquarters in Jupiter, Fla., a clear indication on where he’s focusing on next.
“We’re way up with millions of people. So what I say to the Republicans is embrace it,” Trump said. “We will win the election easily.”
The night was a major letdown for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who placed fourth in both the Michigan and Mississippi contests. He’ll have little time to build momentum before Floridians hit the polls next week, seen as the make-or-break moment for the freshman senator’s campaign. A recent poll from Monmouth University had him trailing Trump by eight percentage points in his home state.
Voters in Hawaii also cast ballots on Tuesday.