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Donald Trump Pulls Off Another Primary Night Sweep, Calls Himself 'Presumptive Nominee'

Trump picks up big victories in five states on Tuesday night, putting himself much closer to clinching the nomination before the GOP convention.

by Olivia Becker
Apr 27 2016, 12:05am

Photo by Peter Foley/EPA

Trump scooped up another swath of primary victories in the Northeast, launching him closer to clinching the Republican nomination on Tuesday night.

Trump won Pennsylvania, Maryland and Connecticut with significant leads that allowed news networks to call the races just as polls closed at 8pm. Trump was also named the projected winner in Delaware and Rhode Island, just before 8:30pm, winning all five states that voted on Tuesday night with what look to be large margins.

It quickly became clear that Trump was not only going to win all five states Tuesday evening but sweep the board with the vast majority of the vote. As votes continued to trickle in just before 9:30pm, Trump carried more than 50 percent of the vote in each state. And according to results, which are still being tallied, in Delaware and Rhode Island, Trump actually topped 60 percent of the vote.

His rivals, Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich, fell far behind the GOP frontrunner in all five states on Tuesday. Kasich, who trails his rivals significantly in the delegate race, is poised to come in second place in four of the five states voting on Tuesday. Cruz only managed to outpace the governor in Pennsylvania.

Related: Hillary Clinton Notches Victory in Maryland, As Five Northeastern States Vote

Trump congratulated himself on his clean sweep during his victory speech, which doubled as a press conference, from the lobby of Trump Tower in Manhattan Tuesday night, dubbing himself "the presumptive nominee" in response to a question.

"We're going to win, we're going to beat Hillary Clinton," he said.

Trump spent a significant portion of his time onstage lambasting Clinton as his only remaining rival, shifting his focus to the general election. But the frontrunner also had words for Cruz and Kasich, blasting their recently announced plan to team up in an attempt to force a contested convention and stop Trump from winning the nomination.

"I think John Kasich and Ted Cruz really, really hurt themselves with a faulty deal," Trump said, before calling on both of them to drop out of the race.

Cruz is "wasting his time" by even bothering to vet possible vice presidential picks, he added.

Trump, himself, wasted no time in going after Clinton, saying that he will "do far more for women than Hillary Clinton ever will." He also used his favorite nickname for the former secretary of state: "Crooked Hilary."

The GOP frontrunner closed his speech with an aggressive attack on Clinton's gender, in response to a question about his chances in the general election.

"The only card she has is the woman card. She has nothing else going," Trump said. "And frankly, if Hillary Clinton was a man, I don't think she could get 5 percent of the vote. And the beautiful thing is that women don't like her!"

Trump's supporters applauded.

Related: Lawsuit Over Donald Trump's Former University Will Go to Trial

The Republican frontrunner rarely takes questions from reporters after his speeches, but Trump seemed to be in a good mood on Tuesday night. He actually opened his speech by thanking the media for "being very fair to me in the past few weeks."

Trump's wins on Tuesday night were not a surprise. The cluster of northeastern states that voted on Tuesday represent favorable territory for Trump, who just came off a huge win in New York last week. He was also leading in the polls in each of the five states leading into Tuesday night's contests.

MSNBC wasted no time in calling the results "significant" and "sweeping" for the GOP frontrunner. Trump was expected to do well in those states, which have a total of 118 bound delegates up for grabs, but the number of delegates he will actually take home still depends on his margin of victory.

Trump's slam dunk victories in all five states could mean that he picks up most, if not all, of those pledged delegates. All of the delegates in Connecticut and Delaware, for example — where Trump currently holds about 60 percent of the vote — go to the candidate who wins a majority of ballots cast.

Trump handily won the biggest prize of the night, Pennsylvania, although it remains to be seen if his victory there will actually help him on his way to clinching the Republican nomination. That's because of Pennsylvania's massively opaque way of allocating its delegates — the state's first 17 delegates will go to Trump as the statewide winner, but the remaining 54 delegates are unbound and don't have to decide who they'll vote for at the convention until they get there.

Many of Pennsylvania's unbound delegates have given verbal commitments to vote for either Trump, Kasich or Cruz at the convention no matter what, while others have said they will merely vote for whichever candidate wins the popular vote in their congressional districts. CNN interviewed a majority of the 162 candidates running to be delegates at the national convention, 25 percent of whom said they would back Trump, while another 20 percent said they will support Cruz. Fully 42 percent of the candidates to be Pennsylvania delegates said they would vote for whomever their district supports, while not one who spoke to CNN said that he or she will back Kasich.

But even those delegate candidates who have said who they'll support are not beholden to stick by that candidate and are basically just working off of the honor system. In other words, even though Trump won the clear majority across the state, he is only assured 17 delegates and Cruz or Kasich could pick up some of the other 54.

Related: Donald Trump Has Been Playing a 'Part,' Top Aide Tells Republican Leaders

Although the 2016 presidential primaries are seemingly unending, the race is beginning to wind down. There are only 10 more primary contests left with 510 delegates up for grabs on the Republican side.

At this point in the 2012 race, almost to the day, the Republican National Committee declared Mitt Romney the presumptive nominee and happily put all of their resources behind him. But it is still no more clear who will be the Republican nominee than it was six months ago. Although Trump's position as the frontrunner is no longer a question, he still needed to win 393 of the upcoming delegates (before any of Tuesday's delegates were tallied) to reach the requisite 1,237 in order to win the nomination outright. That number will shrink as votes are counted throughout the night on Tuesday. Meanwhile, neither of his two remaining rivals has any mathematical chance of getting there before the convention, where they'll rely on a fight on the convention floor.

After apparently coming to terms with that reality, Cruz and Kasich announced on Sunday that they are teaming up to force a contested convention in a last-ditch effort to stop Trump in the upcoming contests. Cruz will focus on Indiana, which votes on May 3, and Kasich will be left alone to campaign in Oregon and New Mexico, which will vote in May and June respectively, both campaigns said.

To wit, Cruz spoke in Indianapolis on Tuesday night just before the polls closed, telling supporters that Trump and Clinton are "flip sides of the same coin."

Related: Ted Cruz and John Kasich Are Teaming Up to Stop Donald Trump

So far nothing has managed to stop Donald Trump's barrage to the White House. And it is unclear whether Cruz's and Kasich's latest plan can either.

Follow Olivia Becker on Twitter: @oliviaLbecker