Bernie Sanders breathed new life into his longshot White House bid with a crucial win in Michigan’s primary, chipping away at Hillary Clinton’s dominance in the Democratic presidential race. Republican Donald Trump swept to victory in both Michigan and Mississippi, overcoming fierce efforts to blunt his momentum.
Even with Mr. Sanders’ win Tuesday night, Ms. Clinton and Mr. Trump moved closer to a general election face-off. Ms. Clinton breezed to an easy victory in Mississippi, propelled by overwhelming support from black voters, and she now has more than half the delegates she needs to clinch the Democratic nomination at the party’s national convention in July. Mr. Trump, too, padded his lead over Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who won the Idaho primary.
Republicans were also holding a caucus on Tuesday in Hawaii.
While a handful of recent losses to Mr. Cruz have raised questions about Mr. Trump’s durability, Tuesday’s contests marked another lost opportunity for rivals desperate to stop the billionaire real estate mogul’s march to the nomination. Next week’s winner-take-all contests in Ohio and Florida loom large as perhaps the last chance to block Mr. Trump short of a contested convention fight.
Ohio Governor John Kasich was narrowly trailing Mr. Cruz for second place in Michigan, where he was hoping a good showing would give him a boost heading into next week’s crucial contest in his home state.
For Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Tuesday marked the latest in a series of disappointing nights. He emerged from Michigan and Mississippi with no new delegates, a grim outcome for a candidate who has the overwhelming support from Republican senators, governors and other elected officials.
Mr. Rubio insisted he would press on to his home state’s primary in Florida next Tuesday.
The front-runners turned their sights on November as they revelled in their wins.
“We are better than what we are being offered by the Republicans,” Ms. Clinton declared.
In a nod toward the kind of traditional politics he’s shunned, Mr. Trump emphasised the importance of helping Republican senators and House members get elected in November. Having entered Tuesday’s contests facing a barrage of criticism from rival candidates and outside groups, he was also delighted in overcoming the attacks.
“Every single person who has attacked me has gone down,” Mr. Trump said at one of his Florida resorts. He was flanked by tables packed with his branded retail products, including steaks, bottled water and wine, and defended his business record more thoroughly than he outlined his policy proposals for the country.
Mr. Sanders, a self-declared democratic socialist, said Michigan signalled “that we are a national campaign” with wins in different regions of the country.
“As more people get to know more about who we are and what our views are we’re going to do very well,” the Vermont senator said in a statement.
The economy ranked high on the list of concerns for voters in Michigan and Mississippi. At least 8 in 10 in each party’s primary said they were worried about where the American economy is heading, according to exit polls conducted by Edison Research for The Associated Press and television networks.
Among Democrats, 8 in 10 voters in both states said the country’s economic system benefits the wealthy, not all Americans.