The latest: Clinton and Trump claim majority of wins, Rubio drops out

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The latest on the 2016 presidential campaign, with primaries in five states Tuesday and Republican front-runner Donald Trump trying to move closer to nailing down his party’s nomination. All times Eastern. 

5:45 a.m.

Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump clung to slim advantages over their challengers in Missouri’s presidential primaries following victories in several other pivotal states that bolstered their standing as national front-runners.

Fewer than 2,000 votes separated Trump, the billionaire businessman, from Texas Sen. Ted Cruz out of about 925,000 that had been counted with nearly all precincts reporting early Wednesday. Former Secretary of State Clinton led Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders by a similarly close margin out of more than 623,000 votes counted.

The Associated Press has not declared a winner in either race.

Under Missouri law, candidates can request a recount if they lose by less than one-half of a percentage point. Both races fall within that margin.

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12:52 a.m.

Donald Trump’s lead in the race for delegates is growing, but he’s still winning just 46 percent of the delegates that have been awarded so far.

That’s not good enough to clinch the nomination before the party’s national convention this summer: It takes a majority.

His rivals are doing worse, leaving Trump as the GOP candidate with the most realistic path to a majority of the delegates by the end of the primary season.

Trump won at least 161 delegates in Tuesday’s contests. John Kasich picked up at least 75 delegates, most of them for winning Ohio. Ted Cruz won at least 26 and Marco Rubio will get at least five.

There are still 100 delegates left to be allocated.

The overall race for delegates:

Trump: 621.

Cruz: 396.

Rubio: 168.

Kasich: 138.

It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination for president.

___

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during an election night event at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Fla., Tuesday, March 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during an election night event at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Fla., Tuesday, March 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

12:50 a.m.

Hillary Clinton is winning big in delegates after taking Illinois.

She has won four out of five states in Tuesday’s elections, stifling Bernie Sanders’ effort to cut into her already-big delegate advantage.

With 156 Illinois delegates at stake, Clinton will win at least 66 to Sanders’ 64.

For the evening, she will gain at least 326 to Sanders’ 220.

That means in terms of delegates won from primaries and caucuses to date, she now has at least 1,094 to 774 for Sanders.

Her advantage grows wider when including superdelegates, party leaders who can back any candidate.

Including superdelegates, she now has a total of at least 1,561; that’s 66 percent of the total needed to win the Democratic nomination. Sanders has at least 800.

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12:45 a.m.

With 98.8 percent of precincts reporting in Missouri, both the Republican and Democratic races in the state’s presidential primaries are too close to call.

The margins in the races between Republicans Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are less than one-half of 1 percentage point. That means the losing candidate can request a recount.

As such, The Associated Press will not call either the race at this time.

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12:27 a.m.

Hillary Clinton has won the Democratic presidential primary in her native state of Illinois. It’s the fourth victory of the night for the former secretary of state over rival Bernie Sanders.

Clinton also posted wins in Ohio, North Carolina and Florida in Tuesday’s elections.

Clinton spoke earlier in the night in Florida, and appeared to pivot ahead toward a possible general election contest against Donald Trump.

She suggested the Republican billionaire was not prepared to make the tough decisions required of a president.

Sanders spoke for nearly an hour in Phoenix and delivered his standard stump speech, never mentioning the day’s election results.

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10:50 p.m.

Ted Cruz says he is welcoming Marco Rubio’s former supporters “with open arms.”

Cruz said at a Houston rally that the battle for the Republican presidential nomination battle was a “two person race” between himself and Donald Trump.

Rubio suspended his presidential campaign on Tuesday.

He did not mention Josh Kasich by name but clearly was belittling his chances. Kasich won his home state of Ohio on Tuesday but that has been his only victory of the year.

Cruz has won seven states but still significantly trails Trump in delegates. The Texas Senator claimed that the media was “rooting” for Trump because he is the only candidate Hillary Clinton could beat.

Cruz has yet to win a state on Tuesday though the race in Missouri has not yet been called.

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10:45 p.m.

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ campaign strategist says that the “first half of the process” toward winning the Democratic nomination is over and the campaign feels “very good about the calendar ahead.”

Tad Devine pushed back Tuesday against the suggestion that the Ohio results were bad for Sanders, saying that “our goal was to win as many delegates as possible.”

Looking ahead, Devine said he was confident about Sanders’ chances in the next three contests — Arizona, Idaho and Utah on March 22 — calling them all states the campaign thinks they can win.

He also said that Sanders was immune to any push to drop out because of his small-batch fundraising.

“The millions who are out there believe in him and believe in his message,” Devine said.

___

10:25 p.m.

Donald Trump is adding to his lead in the delegate race with victories in Florida, North Carolina and Illinois.

Trump has won at least 159 delegates in Tuesday’s contests. John Kasich has picked up at least 73 delegates — most of them for winning Ohio — while Ted Cruz has won at least 24 and Marco Rubio will get at least four.

There are still 107 delegates left to be allocated.

The overall race for delegates:

Trump: 619.

Cruz: 394.

Rubio: 167.

Kasich: 136.

It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination for president.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w73JwGjPXrw

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10:00 p.m.

Donald Trump is marking his latest string of victories by saying he is bringing new voters to the Republican Party.

Trump said Tuesday during a victory rally at his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida that “something is happening” in the Republican Party that is being noticed “all over the world.”

He touted increased voter turnout and a rise in new voters who have come out to support him.

The celebrity businessman won Tuesday in North Carolina, Illinois and Florida. His rout in Florida, the home of Marco Rubio, effectively ended the senator’s White House bid.

John Kasich won his first contest of the primary process by taking his home state of Ohio on Tuesday. Ted Cruz has not yet won a state.

A supporter of Republican presidential candidate Ohio Gov. John Kasich yells at a protester wearing a Donald Trump hat at Kasich's primary election night rally in Berea, Ohio, on Tuesday, March 15, 2016. The man was escorted out. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

A supporter of Republican presidential candidate Ohio Gov. John Kasich yells at a protester wearing a Donald Trump hat at Kasich’s primary election night rally in Berea, Ohio, on Tuesday, March 15, 2016. The man was escorted out. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

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9:53 p.m.

Donald Trump is winning the Republican presidential primary in Illinois, where his rally was canceled last week in Chicago over security concerns.

His victory Tuesday comes after an earlier win in Florida and North Carolina. It increases his delegate lead over the rest of the Republican field.

That field shrank by one on Tuesday as Marco Rubio dropped out. But John Kasich captured his first victory of the nominating contest by winning his home state of Ohio.

Data curated by InsideGov

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9:50 p.m.

Donald Trump has won the Republican presidential primary in North Carolina.

His victory Tuesday comes after an earlier win in Florida and increases his delegate lead over the rest of the Republican field.

That field shrank by one on Tuesday as Marco Rubio dropped out. But John Kasich captured his first victory of the nominating contest by winning his home state of Ohio, nabbing all 66 delegates there.

Ted Cruz has yet to win a state Tuesday.

___

9:42 p.m.

Bernie Sanders was handed three early defeats on Tuesday — but his speech carried little mention of them.

Sanders lost Ohio, Florida and North Carolina to Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, who added to her delegate lead. But, in a speech to supporters in Phoenix, he barely discussed those contests or the day’s races in Illinois or Missouri that have not been called.

Sanders instead delivered his standard campaign speech, decrying the influence of big money in politics. He vowed that “billionaires would have to pay their fair share.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fXt66nRMPo

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9:40 p.m.

Marco Rubio exits the presidential race having won 163 delegates to the Republican National Convention this summer.

The vast majority of those delegates will be sought-after free agents, free to support the candidate of their choice — unless Rubio tries to resurrect his campaign at a contested convention.

GOP rules require delegates to vote for the candidate who won them on the first ballot at the convention. However, most state parties release those delegates if their candidate is no longer running.

If Rubio jumps back in the race, he keeps his delegates.

Rubio can ask them to support another candidate, but they don’t have to.

___

9:35 p.m.

Ted Cruz says his “friend and colleague” Marco Rubio ran “an optimistic campaign focused on the future of our party.”

In a statement released shortly after the Florida senator suspended his presidential campaign, Cruz said he’s certain Rubio will continue to be “a champion for limitless opportunity in America.”

Cruz lost Tuesday’s major winner-take-all contests — in Florida to Donald Trump and Ohio to the state’s governor, John Kasich.

But his campaign was still hoping to pick up delegates in states that award delegates proportionally: Missouri, Illinois and North Carolina.

Cruz has said for weeks he’s the only candidate in the field who can beat Trump one-on-one.

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, appears and speaks at a rally at Abbington Banquets, Monday, March 14, 2016, in Glen Ellyn, Ill. (Bob Chwedyk/Daily Herald via AP)

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, appears and speaks at a rally at Abbington Banquets, Monday, March 14, 2016, in Glen Ellyn, Ill. (Bob Chwedyk/Daily Herald via AP)

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9:30 p.m.

John Kasich says he won’t take the “low road” in his party’s divisive presidential primary after a home-state win in Ohio.

The Ohio governor beat back a challenge from Donald Trump in a home-state election Tuesday that keeps Kasich’s underdog campaign alive. He’s one of just three candidates left in the race after rival Marco Rubio dropped out of the race earlier Tuesday.

“The campaign goes on,” Kasich told a crowd in Berea, Ohio Tuesday night.

Kasich’s speech was interrupted by a protester wearing clothes with Trump’s campaign logo — “Make America Great Again.

To that, Kasich joked that he appreciates a good, “peaceful protest every once in a while” since he went to college in the 1970s.

Republican presidential candidate Ohio Gov. John Kasich pumps his fist before speaking at his presidential primary election night rally in Berea, Ohio, on Tuesday, March 15, 2016. His wife, Karen, waves to supporters. Kasich won the Ohio primary. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Republican presidential candidate Ohio Gov. John Kasich pumps his fist before speaking at his presidential primary election night rally in Berea, Ohio, on Tuesday, March 15, 2016. His wife, Karen, waves to supporters. Kasich won the Ohio primary. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

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9:15 p.m.

By winning the Republican primary in Ohio, John Kasich picked up all 66 of the state’s delegates to the Republican National Convention.

Now all he has to do is win 91 percent of the remaining delegates and he can clinch the nomination before the convention this summer.

Marco Rubio has more delegates than Kasich has, and the Florida senator suspended his campaign Tuesday night.

Donald Trump still leads the race for delegates, with 568. Ted Cruz has 370 delegates, Kasich has 129 and Rubio left the race with 163.

It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination for president.

Data curated by InsideGov

___

9:05 p.m.

Hillary Clinton says a president must be ready to “start making decisions” immediately upon assuming office since it’s a job that will affect every person on the planet.

Clinton, a Democrat, did not mention Republican front-runner Donald Trump by name. But she said Tuesday that any president would have to keep the country safe, make “positive changes” in people’s lives and unite the country.

Clinton has repeatedly accused Trump of using divisive rhetoric. She also called for all candidates to lay out specifics — including the cost — of their plans, something she has repeatedly asked of her Democratic rival Bernie Sanders.

Clinton has won at least three state primaries on Tuesday: Florida, Ohio and North Carolina. And she has widened her delegate lead over rival Bernie Sanders.

Supporters cheer for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as results come in during an election night event at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Fla., Tuesday, March 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Supporters cheer for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as results come in during an election night event at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Fla., Tuesday, March 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

___

8:55 p.m.

The delegate lead for Hillary Clinton continues to grow thanks to a big win in North Carolina.

With 107 delegates at stake, she will win at least 56. Sanders will gain at least 24.

That means for the night Clinton has earned at least 175 delegates so far, having also won Florida. Sanders will win at least 73.

In all, 691 delegates are up for grabs in five states.

Including superdelegates, the lead is bigger. Clinton now has a total of at least 1,410, while Sanders has at least 653. It takes 2,383 to win.

Still to come: results in Ohio, Missouri and Illinois.

___

8:50 p.m.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich scored his first win of the presidential nomination contest, grabbing all 66 delegates in the Ohio primary, in what could ultimately stall Donald Trump’s decisive dash to the nomination.

Kasich entered the GOP presidential race as an underdog but surged to prominence after he secured second place in New Hampshire’s primary last month.

Steering clear of the boisterous, often belligerent rhetoric exchanged by his GOP rivals, Kasich has sought to distinguish himself as the candidate with a positive message. He avoided direct criticism of front-runner Trump until recent days, when he expressed concern that the billionaire businessman was encouraging violence at his rallies.

Kasich remains in last place among the GOP contenders. He had been in fourth place, trailing Marco Rubio, who ended his campaign earlier Tuesday after a humiliating loss to Trump in his home state of Florida.

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Data curated by InsideGov

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8:45 p.m.

Marco Rubio spoke over boos from the audience as he congratulated Florida primary winner Donald Trump. Rubio offered the crowd an emotional evaluation on the state of politics in the United States Tuesday as he ended his bid for the White House.

The Florida senator sought to calm his supporters, and took a heckler in stride, saying the person would “not get beat up” at his rally, a swipe at the recent disturbances at some of Trump’s rallies.

He said that he would offer “a prayer” for the eventual Republican nominee but did not suggest it would be Trump, who has a significant delegate lead over Ted Cruz and John Kasich. He has waffled of late as to whether he would support Trump if the celebrity businessman became the Republican standard-bearer.

Rubio also bemoaned the current political climate in which people “literally hate each other” because they differ politically.

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks during a Republican primary night celebration rally at Florida International University in Miami, Fla., Tuesday, March 15, 2016. Rubio is ending his campaign for the Republican nomination for president after a humiliating loss in his home state of Florida. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks during a Republican primary night celebration rally at Florida International University in Miami, Fla., Tuesday, March 15, 2016. Rubio is ending his campaign for the Republican nomination for president after a humiliating loss in his home state of Florida. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

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8:40 p.m.

Hillary Clinton has won the Democratic presidential primary in Ohio, earning her third win in Tuesday’s quintet of contests.

Clinton already scored victories in Florida and North Carolina, earning 175 additional delegates before winning Ohio.

Contests in Missouri and Illinois have not yet been decided.

___

8:35 p.m.

The delegate lead for Hillary Clinton continues to grow thanks to a big win in North Carolina.

With 107 delegates at stake, she will win at least 56. Sanders will gain at least 24.

That means for the night Clinton has earned at least 175 delegates so far, having also won Florida. Sanders will win at least 73.

In all, 691 delegates are up for grabs in five states.

Including superdelegates, the lead is bigger. Clinton now has a total of at least 1,410, while Sanders has at least 653. It takes 2,383 to win.

Still to come: results in Ohio, Missouri and Illinois.

___

8:20 p.m.

Republican Marco Rubio is ending his campaign for the Republican nomination for president after a humiliating loss in his home state of Florida.

Rubio told a crowd in Miami Tuesday that he knows that voters are angry and that there is a hunger for new faces and voices in government.

Rubio’s decision was prompted by losses in all but three of the presidential nomination contests but Florida’s winner-take-all primary proved the most devastating. Only six years earlier, he was a tea party favorite who crushed the GOP’s “establishment” candidate to win a seat in the U.S. Senate.

But the political tables turned on the Florida senator as a 2016 presidential candidate who was lambasted as mainstream in a year when voters cried out for an outsider.

In this March 10, 2016, photo, Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., left, speaks as Donald Trump listens, during a Republican presidential debate sponsored by CNN, Salem Media Group and the Washington Times at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. Florida’s winner-take-all Republican presidential primary was supposed to help former Gov. Jeb Bush or Rubio. That was the thinking when the GOP-dominated Legislature changed the state’s primary date to the third Tuesday in March, the earliest date it could hold an election that will award all 99 Republican delegates to one candidate. But that was before Republicans here even dreamed of Trump possibly winning the state. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

In this March 10, 2016, photo, Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., left, speaks as Donald Trump listens, during a Republican presidential debate sponsored by CNN, Salem Media Group and the Washington Times at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. Florida’s winner-take-all Republican presidential primary was supposed to help former Gov. Jeb Bush or Rubio. That was the thinking when the GOP-dominated Legislature changed the state’s primary date to the third Tuesday in March, the earliest date it could hold an election that will award all 99 Republican delegates to one candidate. But that was before Republicans here even dreamed of Trump possibly winning the state. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

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8:15 p.m.

Hillary Clinton wins the Democratic presidential primary in North Carolina, adding to her run of victories in the South over rival Bernie Sanders.

Clinton’s win in North Carolina was her second victory on Tuesday, following a triumph in Florida.

She has dominated Sanders in the South, previously capturing wins in South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana and Tennessee.

Clinton has a significant delegate lead over Sanders, who has turned in stronger showings in the Midwest and other Western states.

North Carolina will also be considered a key battleground state in the general election. President Barack Obama won the state in 2008 but lost it to Mitt Romney four years later.

___

8:08 p.m.

Donald Trump’s big win in the Florida primary is helping him stretch his lead in the race for delegates.

Trump picked up all 99 delegates in Florida.

He now has 568. Ted Cruz has 370 delegates, Marco Rubio has 163 and John Kasich has 63.

It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination for president.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters at his primary election night event at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., Tuesday, March 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters at his primary election night event at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., Tuesday, March 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

___

8:06 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is widening her overall delegate lead with an early win in Florida.

The Sunshine State is Democrats’ biggest delegate prize of the night.

With 214 delegates at stake, Clinton is assured of winning at least 118. Sanders will pick up at least 45.

In all, 691 delegates are up for grabs Tuesday in five states.

Going into Tuesday’s contests, Clinton already held a 214-delegate advantage based just on wins from primaries and caucuses.

When including superdelegates, the lead is even larger. Clinton now has a total of at least 1,353, while Sanders has at least 625. It takes 2,383 to win.

The other states voting Tuesday are North Carolina, Ohio, Missouri and Illinois.

___

8:05 p.m.

Donald Trump is once again breaking with tradition, holding an election night press conference in Florida instead of a typical victory party.

The media gathered at Trump’s sprawling Mar-a-Lago club in West Palm Beach Tuesday in a large ballroom filled with more than a dozen crystal chandeliers, gilded walls and ceilings with small cherubs overhead.

Trump clinched Florida’s 99 winner-take-all primary, beating rival Marco Rubio in his home state.

Reporters will be sitting in the last two rows of chairs, with 16 rows reserved in front of them. During past Trump election press conferences, members of Trump’s golf clubs and other friends have filled the front seats.

Meanwhile, Trump’s official campaign account has been busy, re-tweeting several negative comments about Fox News host Megyn Kelly’s election coverage.

___

8:00 p.m.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have won the presidential primary in Florida, further solidifying their leads in the hotly contested race for the Republican and Democratic nominations.

For Trump, the Republican front-runner, Florida’s all-or-nothing contest represents a momentous win, giving him 99 additional delegates — the largest in the quintet of contests taking place Tuesday. His victory deals a devastating blow to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who many in the Republican establishment had backed in the hope of derailing Trump’s dash to the nomination.

Clinton will be awarded delegates proportionally in keeping with Democratic regulations, but the win still catapults her ahead of rival Bernie Sanders, who came into Tuesday’s contests with fresh momentum after scoring big in Michigan last week.

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6:45 p.m.

John Kasich was locked in a close race with Donald Trump in the Ohio governor’s home-state Republican primary Tuesday, a make-or-break contest for Kasich. In the night’s other crucial GOP primary, Trump held an early lead in Florida, while Hillary Clinton had an advantage in Florida’s Democratic race as the first votes were counted.

Polls had closed in Ohio and North Carolina, but the races in both parties were too close to call.

Republican presidential candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, speaks with members of the media after voting in the primary election Tuesday, March 15, 2016, in Westerville, Ohio. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Republican presidential candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, speaks with members of the media after voting in the primary election Tuesday, March 15, 2016, in Westerville, Ohio. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

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5:15 p.m.

About two-thirds of Republican primary voters in all five states voting Tuesday support temporarily banning non-citizen Muslims from entering the United States, but majorities in all five say they want immigrants already in the United States illegally to be allowed a chance to stay.

That’s according to early results of exit polls conducted for the Associated Press and television networks for Edison Research.

Only about 4 in 10 Republican voters in each state want all immigrants in the country illegally to be deported.

The proportion of GOP primary voters saying they want a ban on non-citizen Muslims entering the United States is as high as three-quarters in Missouri.

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5:10 p.m.

About 9 in 10 Republican primary voters in five states going to the polls Tuesday are unhappy with the direction of the federal government — and on average, about 4 in 10 are angry.

According to early results of exit polls conducted for the Associated Press and television networks by Edison Research, majorities of Republican primary voters in all five states say they feel betrayed by politicians from the Republican Party.

In each of the five states, about half of voters say they prefer a candidate who’s an outsider, while about 4 in 10 want one with political experience.

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Data curated by InsideGov

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5:07 p.m.

White voters make up the majority of Democratic voters in four of five states going to the polls Tuesday, but all five states included large enough percentages of minority voters to potentially affect the results.

According to early results of exit polls conducted for the Associates Press and television networks, black voters make up at least about one-fifth of the Democratic electorate in each states voting Tuesday, and in Florida, Illinois and North Carolina nearly 3 in 10 Democratic primary voters are black.

Black voters have formed an important part of Clinton’s coalition in earlier states, supporting her by about a 67 percentage point margin across 15 earlier contests where entrance or exit polls were conducted. But in Michigan a week ago, they supported her by a smaller 40 percentage point margin.

In Florida, Hispanics made up about 2 in 10 Democratic and Republican primary voters. That includes about 1 in 10 GOP primary voters who are of Cuban descent.

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5:05 p.m.

Majorities of Democrats in five states going to the polls Tuesday say they would be satisfied with both candidates as the nominee.

According to early results of exit polls conducted by Edison Research for the Associated Press and television networks, voters are more likely to describe Sanders than Clinton as honest, but more likely to describe Clinton’s policies as realistic.

At least half of voters in each state say each of the two candidates’ positions on the issues are “about right,” though voters are generally more likely to say Sanders’ policies are too liberal than not liberal enough and to say the opposite about Clinton.

Democratic voters in all five states see Clinton as the candidate with the better chance to beat Donald Trump if he is the Republican nominee in November.

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at a campaign rally at The Family Arena Monday, March 14, 2016, in St. Charles, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at a campaign rally at The Family Arena Monday, March 14, 2016, in St. Charles, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

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4:49 p.m.

Even before Tuesday’s primary results are in, a group of conservative leaders is calling a meeting to discuss options for blocking Donald Trump’s path to the Republican nomination — including the possibility of rallying around a third-party candidate.

A person familiar with the planning for Thursday’s meeting says the discussion will focus first on trying to get conservatives to unite around one candidate to compete against Trump. High-dollar donors would be mobilized to pressure other candidates to go along with that plan.

The discussion will also focus on the logistics of getting a third-party candidate on state ballots, an option seen by organizers as a “lifeboat” for conservatives. Participants will discuss ballot access issues, including using an existing third party as a vehicle for a candidate or securing signatures for an independent bid.

The meeting was first reported by Politico. The person familiar with the planning confirmed the meeting on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the gathering by name.

— White House Correspondent Julie Pace

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4:43 p.m.

Florida election officials say Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump’s name was not left off ballots in a town in south Florida, despite a small number of voter complaints.

Florida is a closed-primary state, which means only registered Republicans would get a ballot listing Trump and the other GOP candidates.

Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher said that independent voters can’t vote in the primary. Bucher said Tuesday that some residents in Jupiter, Florida who were voting as independents in municipal elections complained when they didn’t see Trump’s name on the ballot. Bucher said none of the other presidential candidates were listed on those ballots either.

Florida’s Secretary of State Ken Detzner sent out a statement reassuring voters that Trump had not been left off any presidential ballots.

Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump holds a plane-side rally in a hanger at Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport in Vienna, Ohio, Monday, March 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump holds a plane-side rally in a hanger at Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport in Vienna, Ohio, Monday, March 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

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4:40 p.m.

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio says, win or lose in Tuesday’s crucial Florida primary, he’s staying in the race.

He says there is no one in the race is “on pace to get 1,237 delegates,” the number needed to secure the Republican nomination.

Rubio says the latest polls showing him a distant second behind GOP front-runner Donald Trump are wrong.

Rubio early voted on March 2 and is holding his primary night party in Miami.

Florida elections officials are expecting a record turnout of more than 4 million voters. More than 2 million have already made their choice by early voting or absentee. The state is a closed primary.

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4:24 p.m.

Donald Trump aimed to crush the White House hopes of two Republican rivals in Tuesday’s primary elections in Florida and Ohio, the biggest prizes on a delegate-rich day of voting that could clarify the nomination fights in both parties. Hillary Clinton hoped to pad her delegate lead in the Democratic race.

Anxious to block Trump’s path were Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, each in need of a home state win to stay in the GOP race. Kasich was locked in a close race with Trump in Ohio, while Rubio appeared to be fading in recent Florida preference polls.

Kasich has largely avoided criticizing his rivals during the tumultuous primary season, but he said he would have plenty to say about Trump after Tuesday’s contests. He said he felt a need “to point out things that have been deeply disturbing.”

Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina were also voting Tuesday.

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Data curated by InsideGov

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2:14 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he spoke to Republican front-runner Donald Trump and asked him to condemn violence no matter who is responsible.

McConnell told reporters that he had a conversation with the candidate Tuesday morning, the first time the two men spoke since December.

The Kentucky Republican and the New York businessman discussed the recent violence that has marred Trump’s rallies and protesters have clashed with the candidate’s supporters.

Trump earlier Tuesday backed away from a suggestion that he might cover legal costs for a supporter who was caught on video punching a black protester in the face. The supporter was later charged with assault. Trump at the time said he’d asked his “people” to “look into” paying the fees. I

On ABC’s “Good Morning America” Tuesday, he said, “I never said I was going to pay for fees.” Asked if it had appeared he was encouraging violence with his initial statement, Trump replied, “Well, maybe so. Maybe that’s why I wouldn’t do it.”

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A sign is displayed at a voting precinct in Panama City Beach, Fla., Tuesday, March 15, 2016. Voters in Florida, as well as North Carolina, Illinois, Missouri and Ohio will cast their ballots in primary elections today (AP Photo/The News Herald/Panama City, Fla., Andrew Wardlow)

A sign is displayed at a voting precinct in Panama City Beach, Fla., Tuesday, March 15, 2016. Voters in Florida, as well as North Carolina, Illinois, Missouri and Ohio will cast their ballots in primary elections today (AP Photo/The News Herald/Panama City, Fla., Andrew Wardlow)

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1:22 p.m.

President Barack Obama says he is deeply disturbed by the “vulgar and divisive rhetoric” directed at women and minorities, as well as the violence in the 2016 presidential campaign.

That’s a swipe at Republican front runner Donald Trump, who has been combative at his sometimes violent rallies and made comments about women.

Obama spoke Tuesday at a unity luncheon at the Capitol to express his concern about the protests that have escalated to attacks at the Trump rallies, as well as the candidate’s plan to bar Muslims and deport immigrants living here illegally.

He says, “We have heard vulgar and divisive rhetoric aimed at women and minorities, and Americans that don’t look like us or pray like us or vote like we do.” The president adds that too many leaders have been silent about the rhetoric, tone and actual violence at Trump rallies.


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