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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump stands to cement his aura of inevitability if he does what pollsters are predicting and sweeps four of five primary contests on what some pundits are calling "Elimination Tuesday."
The Associated Press explained on Tuesday:
Overall, there are 358 pledged delegates at stake on the GOP side in these primaries. The delegates are awarded differently depending on the state.
In Florida and Ohio, the statewide winner gets all the pledged delegates. In Missouri, a candidate can win all of the delegates but only if he gets more than half of the vote. And in North Carolina, the delegates are awarded proportionally based on the statewide vote.
Currently, Trump leads the race for delegates with 469. Cruz has 370, Rubio has 163, and Kasich has 63.
It takes 1,237 delegates to win the GOP nomination.
The Guardian notes that "if the New York billionaire falls short" on Tuesday, "he could face an uphill struggle in the remaining primaries to clinch the 1,237 delegates needed for an outright win, raising the spectre of a contested Republican convention in July. Even if Trump goes to the convention with the most delegates, the Republican establishment could mount a rearguard action to snatch the nomination from him."
He is neck-and-neck with Gov. John Kasich in the governor's home state of Ohio.
"Ohio represents two possibilities for the Republican governor," James Arkin wrote Monday at RealClearPolitics, "a loss representing the end of his presidential ambitions; [or] a win marking new momentum for the candidate who has yet to win a state and trails significantly in the delegate count."
Arkin noted that Kasich is "apparently rising in the polls: He leads the RealClearPolitics average in the state by two percentage points, and two polls released Sunday showed him either tied or leading his main rival here, Donald Trump, by six points."
At least one thing seems certain: Tuesday will mark what Politico described as "the likely denouement of Sen. Marco Rubio's presidential campaign."
"[I]n the race for Florida’s 99 delegates, Trump is the odds-on favorite," Politico writes, citing party big-wigs, "90 percent of all Republican insiders across the three states—and all but one of the 33 Florida insiders (from both parties) who completed the survey—picked Trump to carry the state. A number of Republicans in Florida even suggested Cruz, not Rubio, could finish second to Trump."
For his part, Rubio started the day "vowing that his candidacy will move on 'irrespective' of the results in Florida," according to FOX News.
"Obviously the difference is we’ll either be in Utah with a lot of momentum with the wind at our back or we’ll be in Utah after a disappointing night but we’ll be there nonetheless," Rubio said, referring to the next primary on the calendar.
MSNBC reports that "[i]n a highly unusual move for a candidate, Rubio has called on his own supporters to vote for Kasich in Ohio to help deny Trump the state’s delegates. Kasich has not reciprocated with a similar call to his own voters in Florida."