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Hillary Clinton Picks Up Major Primary Wins in Five-State Sweep

The candidate secured the biggest prizes of the night, delegate-rich Florida and Ohio, while solidifying her support in the south.
Photo by Peter Foley/EPA

Hillary Clinton cleaned up in all five states holding primary contests on Tuesday, emerging with double-digit leads in Florida, Ohio and North Carolina, and picking up narrow wins in Illinois and Missouri.

Florida and Ohio were the two big prizes for Democrats on Tuesday night and Clinton won both of them. After winning them alongside North Carolina and Illinois, Clinton now has a total of at least 1,094 delegates, excluding superdelegates, giving her a lead over Sanders that will be extremely difficult to overcome. She now has 46 percent of the 2,383 total delegates needed to win the Democratic nomination, while Sanders has nearly 800.


Missouri was also voting in the Democratic race on Tuesday night, but with 99 percent of the votes counted and just a few absentee and provisional ballots left to tally up, the end result was too close to call. Clinton had a narrow lead of about 1,500 votes, but given that this amounted to less than a percentage point of the total votes, a recount was possible. Sanders conceded the race on Thursday.

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Clinton delivered her victory speech in Florida in front of a crowd of cheering flag-waving supporters. She congratulated Sanders on the "vigorous campaign he's waging" and reprised her victory speech given after her most recent wins, calling for people to "break down the barriers, not building walls" — a dig at the Republican frontrunner.

"This might be one of the most consequential elections of our lifetimes," Clinton said. "Our next president has to be ready to face three big tests. One, can you make positive differences in people's lives? Second, can you keep us safe? Third, can you bring our country together again?"

That third point has been a calling card of the Sanders campaign of late, which released a viral ad last month simply called "Together," which draws from a stump speech in which the senator says "our job is not to divide, our job is to bring people together."

In her speech, Clinton also said she was proud to earn "more votes than any other candidate Democrat or Republican." She also raised common criticisms of Sanders's policies and ideas as unrealistic, saying that a commander in chief has to know when proposals are unachievable.


"That's the difference between running for president and being president," she said to more cheers that broke out into chants of "Hillary, Hillary!"

Clinton saw huge victories over Sanders on Tuesday night. In Florida, which had the most delegates up for grabs on Tuesday, she holds a 32-point lead over Senator Bernie Sanders as results continue to roll in. Florida, which has significant Hispanic, black, and older communities, is poised to hand Clinton about 120 of its 214 delegates, according to the Associated Press.

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Clinton lead Sanders by 33-points in Ohio and nearly 20-points in North Carolina as well, which will both give a majority of their delegates to the Clinton campaign. The former secretary of state pulled off a narrower win in Illinois with 51 percent to Sanders's 49 percent of the vote, as the last votes were being tallied.

Clinton expected to win in both Florida and North Carolina, but Sanders made a big play for Ohio, arguing that his campaign could win there after an upset victory in neighboring Michigan last week. Sanders was behind in every poll this month by between 5 to 30 points in the lead-up to Tuesday's primary in the Buckeye State.

The victories in Florida and North Carolina, meanwhile, mark a near-sweep of Southern states for Clinton's campaign so far. Just Kentucky and West Virginia have not yet voted in the Democratic contest, while every other southern state has voted overwhelmingly for the former secretary of state. On Super Tuesday alone last month, Clinton took the southern states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia, propelled by support from more than 80 percent of African-American voters in each of those states.


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Clinton's win in North Carolina was projected in polls prior to Tuesday. The state is more than 22 percent African-American, and shares a border with its Southern neighbor, which handed the former secretary of state a sweeping win last month.

In the days leading up to the primaries, the Sanders campaign had campaigned hard in Ohio, stressing the differences between the senator and the former secretary of state on trade — a major issue in the rustbelt. That tactic seemed to work well for Sanders in Michigan and his campaign argued that it would be effective across the Midwest as well. But despite that optimism, Sanders lost by more than 30 points there.

"The numbers are adding up in my favor," Clinton told reporters in Raleigh, North Carolina, before boarding a plane to Florida earlier Tuesday.

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This story is breaking and will be updated.

Follow Liz Fields on Twitter: @lianzifields