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Tuesday, March 15, 2016



Sources: Wall Street Journal, PBS, Youtube

Bernie Sanders looks for victories in the remaining states, Illinois and Missouri.

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton won a critical victory in Ohio’s presidential primary on Tuesday—and completed her sweep of the South with victories in Florida and North Carolina—as she took full command of a contest that has been far closer than expected at the start.

Rival Bernie Sanders was still hoping for wins in Illinois and Missouri on Tuesday. But the former secretary of state and New York senator was certain to widen her delegate lead.

“We are moving close to securing the Democratic Party nomination and winning this election in November,” Mrs. Clinton told cheering supporters in Florida. She boasted that she has won more votes that any candidate in either party and put forth a hopeful message about the ability to tackle the nation’s problems, saying, “You voted for our tomorrow to be better than our yesterday.”

In Ohio, Mrs. Clinton received 58.0% of the vote while Mr. Sanders garnered 41.5% with 40% of the vote counted. With 96% of Florida precincts reporting, Mrs. Clinton had 64.5% of the vote compared with 33.2% for Mr. Sanders. In North Carolina, with 53% of the precincts in, the former secretary of state had 55.4% versus 40.2% for Mr. Sanders..

With 214 pledged delegates at stake, Florida was the night’s biggest prize, while Ohio had 143 pledged delegates up for grabs. They will be awarded proportionally.

Heading into Tuesday, Mr. Sanders was ramping up his attacks on Mrs. Clinton, and has vowed to fight all the way to the summer convention. But he may now face increasing pressure to back off and revert to his earlier role as a candidate primarily driving a progressive, populist message rather than pursuing a likely path to the nomination.

Mrs. Clinton had been expected to easily win Florida, but Ohio was closely fought. Mr. Sanders had hoped to parlay a victory last week in Michigan to the neighboring state. Both have seen a drain in manufacturing jobs, and Mr. Sanders put the blame squarely on free-trade agreements that Mrs. Clinton has long supported.

Mrs. Clinton completed a sweep of the South, where strong support from African-Americans pumped up her totals. But her Ohio win was more important, showing she could win in the industrial Midwest.

Coming into Tuesday’s voting, Mrs. Clinton already had a commanding lead: Her 768 pledged delegates, those chosen by voters, was 214 more than Mr. Sanders. Including so-called superdelegates, who are party leaders who can vote for anyone, she had 1,235—more than double her rival’s take and more than half the number needed for the nomination, according to a tally by the Associated Press.

The Sanders campaign now looks ahead to contests next week in Arizona, Utah and Idaho, three states where aides have hoped to do well. But the next big delegate hauls aren’t awarded until April: first in Wisconsin, and then the giant prize of New York.

“In the states that are coming down the pike, we have great opportunities to win many of them, so we’re feeling really good,” Mr. Sanders said at lunchtime Tuesday in Chicago.

The question now is what tone he will adopt in coming days. In the leadup to Tuesday’s contests, the Vermont senator targeted Mrs. Clinton’s record of support for free-trade deals, and for the backing she receives from an outside super PAC.

In Florida, Mrs. Clinton’s advantage was on display Tuesday in Miami, home to large populations of Hispanic and African-American voters who have gravitated to her campaign.

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