Clinton, Trump strengthen leads, Rubio drops out

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump reinforced their leads in the Democratic and Republican parties respectively, with strong performances in primaries and caucuses on Tuesday in five states.

Hillary Clinton and Donald TrumpAfter the second 'super Tuesday', Clinton now needs only one third of the delegates in the remaining contests to win the Democratic nomination, while Trump will need half of the delegates in the states that are yet to vote.

Closer to their likely victories, the front-runners will come under increasing scrutiny, as their rivals within the respective parties have not called it a day yet – except for Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who has dropped out of the race.

Senator Rubio, who has been a favourite of the Republican establishment, lost his home state of Florida to Trump and suspended his campaign.

By winning his home state, Ohio governor John Kasich has now emerged as the last hope of conventional Republican leaders who find Trump's rise unsettling.

There are only three candidates in the Republican field that opened with 17, nine of them governors. Trump has won 621 delegates so far, against the requirement of 1,231. There are 1,314 more delegates to be awarded now, and Trump can secure the nomination if he wins half of them. Cruz has 396 and Kasich has 138, a far distance away from the halfway mark.

As Trump is never tired of pointing out, those who took him on have fallen sooner – Rubio being the latest example. Claiming that his rise ''makes the Republican Party the biggest political story in the entire world'', Trump reiterated his call for unity.

In an attempt to rally all anti-Trump forces in the Republican Party behind him, Kasich has said he would now focus on the front-runner's divisive agenda. While underlining his commitment to keep the campaign ''positive,'' Kasich added on Tuesday, even as the voting was on, "I will be, however, forced going forward to talk about some of the deep concerns I have about the way this campaign has been run by some others - by one other, in particular.''

Clinton going strong
On the Democratic side, Senator Bernie Sanders's valiant and expensive efforts could not dent Clinton's formidable organisational strength, buttressed by her grip over two demographics categories that are mainstay of the party – blacks and Latinos.

Clinton, who has 1,561 against the required number of 2383, dominates the delegate count in the Democratic Party. Sanders has won 800 delegates so far. There are 2,404 more delegates to be allotted in forthcoming primaries and caucuses and Clinton will be secure even if she wins only a third of them.

Sanders's campaign claimed that going forward, this demographic advantage would not be available for Clinton. He has no intention of dropping out of the race and has ratcheted up his attack on Clinton for her connections with the Wall Street and big pharma.

''With more than half the delegates yet to be chosen and a calendar that favours us in the weeks and months to come, we remain confident that our campaign is on a path to win the nomination,''.Sanders said in a statement after Tuesday results.

Springing back after an upset loss to Sanders in Michigan last week, Clinton is also fine-tuning her message by adopting talking points that have contributed to Sanders's popularity. ''I am really totally committed to bringing back manufacturing,'' Clinton said after Tuesday victories.

Her speech also targeted Trump, with her eyes now firmly set on the November presidential race.