US election 2016: Winners and losers on Super Tuesday II

JULY 10: Donald Trump plays a round of golf after the opening of The Trump International Golf Links Course on July 10, 2012 in Balmedie, Scotland Image copyright Getty Images

In a golf tournament, the day before the final round is called "moving day". It's when the leaders pull away from the rest of the pack.

A rookie or little-known duffer may have strung together a few good holes or even posted a nice round, but time and pressure expose their flaws.

Tuesday was such a moment in the US presidential nomination season.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton came into the day with hopes of extending their leads in the all-important delegate count. They did that and more, taking big steps towards a showdown in the autumn general election.

Here's a closer look at where the presidential field now stands as we head into the final rounds.


On the leaderboard

Donald Trump

There's no disputing this was a very big night for the Republican front-runner. Yes, he lost Ohio to John Kasich - but he posted easy wins in Florida, North Carolina and even Illinois. He's also in a neck-and-neck race with Ted Cruz in Missouri.

Depending on how those Illinois and Missouri vote totals turn out, Mr Trump could be in a position to need only 54% of delegates in remaining states to lock up the nomination before the Republican National Convention in July.

The Ohio loss was a blow, but few expected the New Yorker to do so well in the two other mid-west states.

He's not exactly on a glide path to the nomination, but with more winner-take-all states on the horizon, victory is an achievable goal.

That's key because the anti-Trump Republicans are already formulating strategies for challenging Mr Trump in Cleveland if he shows signs of weakness between now and then.

Scorecard: The big dog is out of the bag.

Hillary Clinton

The former secretary of state got a scare from Michigan last week, when she narrowly lost after holding double-digit advantages in every poll leading up to primary day.

Did that Rust Belt loss portend trouble elsewhere in the mid-west, where working-class Democratic voters might be receptive to Bernie Sanders's anti-trade rhetoric? After Tuesday night's results, Mrs Clinton will breathe much easier.

Counting the votes - full results

Meet Donald Trump's nemesis

Marco Rubio ends campaign

The South once again proved to be Mrs Clinton's bulwark, as she racked up big wins in Florida and North Carolina - and reaped the sizable delegate bounties. And whatever magic Mr Sanders had in Michigan did not reappear in Ohio and Illinois.

Mrs Clinton is continuing to pull away from Mr Sanders and, at this point, seems firmly in control of the race. She only has to win 42% of the remaining delegates to secure the nomination.

In her victory speech on Tuesday night she turned her attention to Donald Trump - incorporating some of the populist economic rhetoric that Mr Sanders has shown to be an effective way to rally the Democratic base.

Her election results weren't all good news, however. Exit polls reveal that even Democrats continue to have doubts about her character.

In Ohio, for instance, among voters who rated honesty as the most important attribute in a candidate, Mr Sanders beat her 73% to 26%.

Confident, front-running Hillary Clinton is back, though. In the past, that's been when she's most susceptible to electoral stumbles - but she has a lead that will be very difficult to lose.

Scorecard: A few more solid holes, and she's home free.


Making the turn

John Kasich

First the good news. The Ohio governor won his home state and the 66 delegates that go along with it. He more than doubled his total at this point, to 136 delegates. He was able to give a victory speech and enjoy a massive confetti shower.

The bad news is that it's effectively impossible for Mr Kasich to win the nomination in any scenario that doesn't involve a brokered convention.

And that Ohio win? In modern US political history no incumbent governor has ever lost his home state. In fact, very few former governors have lost their states either (if they stayed in the race long enough to compete).

Mr Kasich's Ohio win, while notable for the obstacle it places in Mr Trump's path to the nomination, could be nothing more than a blip. He'll have to ramp up his campaign quickly to compete with Mr Cruz and Mr Trump over the coming weeks.

While Ohio may give anti-Trump Republicans some measure of hope, sooner or later they are going to have to make a choice. Do they try to wrest the nomination away from the New Yorker in a bruising floor fight at the convention in July or do they give up the ship and start organising for a third-party conservative campaign?

Mr Kasich is betting that he could benefit from the former - but, at this point, there are forces within the conservative movement who may opt for disunion.

Scorecard: One solid hole does not a championship make.

Ted Cruz

"Tonight was a good night," Ted Cruz said at his rally Tuesday in Houston, Texas. "Tonight we continue to gain delegates and continue our march to 1,237."

While the senator did gain some delegates, it's hard to contend that this was a good night for him. He's in a close battle with Mr Trump in Missouri, but if he loses there he'll only pick up a handful of delegates.

It seems possible that he'll get completely shut out in Illinois. In North Carolina - part of the southern block of states that was supposed to be his stronghold - he finished second to Mr Trump.

Image copyright Getty Images

Mr Cruz has repeatedly asserted that he's the only candidate besides Mr Trump who has a "plausible" path to the nomination through the primary process. But those odds are getting longer by the day.

As one of the last three candidates standing there's no question that Mr Cruz has run a skilful campaign.

His decision to cosy up to Mr Trump in the early phases of the race probably paid dividends, as the New Yorker turned his ire toward other candidates.

Mr Cruz may find out, however, that if you make nice with the tiger all it means is you get eaten last.

Scorecard: Trailing with only a few holes left to play.


Lost in the woods

Bernie Sanders

It looks like the Sanders post-Michigan boomlet will be short-lived. Ohio and Illinois didn't go his way, and Florida and North Carolina delivered devastating blows. He may narrowly prevail in Missouri, but he continues to lose ground to Mrs Clinton in the delegate count.

Image copyright Getty Images

He started this campaign as a message candidate, but after a narrow loss in Iowa and a massive win in New Hampshire it seemed he may legitimately challenge Mrs Clinton for the nomination. His inability to make inroads among minority voters in the south - and now, it seems, in much of the mid-west - will likely prove his undoing, however. He found a compelling message for some disaffected liberals, but that's all he'll be left with soon.

There are a number of states in the coming weeks that could provide wins for Mr Sanders. But he doesn't need wins at this point - he needs massive victories. And, barring a major reversal of fortune, that just isn't going to happen.

Scorecard: Scorecard? Golf is a game for the billionaire class.

Missed the cut

Marco Rubio

Cue up the Rubio political epitaphs. The candidate who became the establishment's last hope was thoroughly defeated in his home state of Florida and bowed out of the race on Tuesday night. In a final bit of ignominy he was heckled even as he gave his concession speech.

Maybe there's an alternate universe where the senator didn't have a miserable debate in New Hampshire and subsequent collapse in that state's primary.

Perhaps he would have cleared the field quickly after that and engaged in a long, gruelling battle against Mr Trump and Mr Cruz for the nomination.

Maybe he would have lost the nomination anyway - but it would have been closer.

Mr Rubio can dwell on those thoughts in the coming weeks and months, while a very different Republican reality takes shape without him.

Scorecard: Time to hit the clubhouse showers and head home.



The Democratic totals include the delegates won per state, as well as so-called "unpledged" or "super delegates". Hillary Clinton has a huge lead among the party leaders and elected officials who each get a vote at the convention.

AP conducts surveys of these super delegates, and adds them to a candidate's totals if they indicate their support. But Super delegates can - and do - change their minds during the course of the campaign, so the figures may shift as the race unfolds.

The delegate tracker is updated automatically. There may be a short delay between the delegates being assigned and the totals changing.