After a hard-fought, raucous battle for voters in states from Alaska to Texas on Super Tuesday, two contenders — Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump — have emerged head and shoulders above the rest and are already pivoting to face off against each other.
Both Clinton and Trump declared victory in seven states. Clinton snatched wins in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Virginia and Texas, while rival Bernie Sanders captured victories in his home state of Vermont as well as Minnesota, Oklahoma and Colorado. The former secretary of state also earned an unsurprising win in American Samoa, where she last won in 2008.
Trump racked up wins in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia, while Ted Cruz grabbed Oklahoma and his home state of Texas. Marco Rubio won over Minnesota voters. Long shot candidates John Kasich and Ben Carson failed to win any states, although Kasich did surprisingly well in Vermont, coming within a few hundred votes from Trump.
Ultimately, Super Tuesday is a race for delegates. Final delegate allocation will likely be decided on 2 March, but already Clinton and Trump have seen their counts soar beyond their rivals. According to POLITICO, Clinton has jumped to 1001 delegates and Sanders to 371. On the Republican side, Trump leads his rivals with 274 delegates. Cruz follows with 149, Rubio with 82, Kasich with 25 and Carson with 8.
In his victory speech, Trump lauded Cruz for his hard work in Texas and Clinton praised the Sanders campaign. But foremost on Trump's mind was Clinton, and foremost on her mind was Trump.
The two both immediately launched the kind of attack they are planning for the general election. Trump sniped that Clinton has already been in Washington a "long time" when she could have accomplished changes she's promising.
Asked if he felt like the GOP nominee for president already Trump said: "I feel awfully good," later adding: "Once we get all of this finished, I am going to go after one person, and that's Hillary Clinton."
Clinton immediately blasted barriers — a clear reference to Trump's support of a border wall between Mexico and the US — and urged instead "love and kindness."
"You know all across our country today Democrats voted to break down barriers so we can all rise together," she said.
"We have to make strong the broken place, re-stitch the bonds of trust and respect across our country," she added. Now, it might be unusual, as I've said before, for a presidential candidate to say this, but I'm going to keep saying it: I believe what we need in America today is more love and kindness.
Rival candidates don't appear to be willing to step aside yet to let the two front-runners have at each other. Sanders has vowed to stay in the race, and Cruz appealed to candidates who have left the race and their supporters to join together to beat Trump. All five remaining Republican candidates have vowed to remain in the race, including poor performers Carson and Kasich.