The Republican Party's nightmare scenario that has kept members of the establishment awake for weeks may be coming true. On Tuesday night, Donald Trump won Florida, Illinois and North Carolina, nearing a lock on his path to the Republican nomination.
Florida was the biggest race of the night and of Republican race so far. Although results in the state are not yet final, Trump led home state Senator Marco Rubio by nearly 20 points in polls. Florida is a winner-take-all state, which means that Trump will get all of the combined 99 delegates at stake.
Trump was also declared the winner in Illinois and in North Carolina on Tuesday night. Early results showed Trump leading Senator Ted Cruz by 15 points in Illinois, for another big win. North Carolina, however, was a much closer race. Cruz came in second place in the state and trailed Trump by just four points, as results continued to roll in on Tuesday.
Both Illinois and North Carolina both award their delegates proportionally, so Cruz and Kasich will still pick up some delegates in those states.
Including his win in Florida on Tuesday night, Trump was expected to have a total of 568 delegates and will add significantly to that number after Illinois and North Carolina's delegates are added. Trump lost Ohio's 66 delegates to Kasich on Tuesday night, but Illinois and North Carolina will give him significant portions of their 69 and 72 delegates, respectively.
Trump's win in Florida, the biggest prize of the night, was widely expected. He has led every single poll there since the beginning of this year and most recently was polling 20 points ahead of Rubio. His victory there was a death-knell for Rubio, who ended his campaign on Tuesday night. Rubio had staked any remaining hope for his faltering presidential campaign on winning his home state.
After being declared the winner of the Illinois, Florida, and North Carolina primaries, Trump took the stage at his lavish villa, Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Florida to declare victory.
Trump opened his speech by saying that anyone who now doubts his ability to win the majority of delegates needed to win the nomination "don't understand basic physics," or math, or "whatever you want to call it."
"We have to bring our party together," Trump remarked, before adding that he just had a "tremendous" phone call with the Republican speaker of the house, Paul Ryan.
He then launched into his usual stump speech. "We're going to do so good with trade, we're going to do so good with borders," Trump said. "I think we're gonna have a great victory. We're going to start winning again. We don't win enough."
Trump said it was "incredible" to win by such a large margin in Florida, which he called his "second home." He briefly congratulated Rubio on running a "really tough campaign" before moving on to an extended discussion about the attacks he'd sustained in the race so far in the race and also discussed his golf performance.
Trump ended with one of his favorite lines of attack against the media, calling those assembled in Florida Tuesday night the "disgusting reporters in the back."
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the number of delegates Trump collected after winning the Florida primary.
Follow Olivia Becker on Twitter: @obecker928