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Trump Accelerates Down the Track

The Republican front-runner steamed ahead to five decisive wins on Tuesday night, while Hillary Clinton took four states, leaving only Rhode Island to Bernie Sanders.

Carlo Allegri / Reuters

On a night awkwardly dubbed the Acela primary, the Donald Trump train steamed out of the station, chugging west toward Cleveland and the Republican National Convention.

The entertainer won all five primaries on Tuesday night, tallying huge margins of victory in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island, Maryland, and Connecticut. Trump is struggling to reach the 1,237 delegates he needs to clinch the nomination—or to get close enough to win it anyway—and the results put him closer but don’t determine whether he’ll be able to reach the magic number.

Trump picked up nearly 100 of the delegates up for grabs Tuesday, doing well in Northeastern states that tend more moderate. But Pennsylvania’s peculiar delegate-apportionment rules mean that the Keystone State’s results are anything but solid. Trump won 17 delegates outright, but the remaining 54 delegates are elected directly and are unbound. That’s an unfortunate turn for Trump, who would have picked up many or all of them under a different system. (Don’t be surprised to hear Pennsylvania added to Trump’s litany of complaints about the Republican delegate-selection process.)

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton built her lead over Senator Bernie Sanders, winning in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and Connecticut. Sanders beat her in Rhode Island. The night’s tally adds to Clinton’s formidable and almost certainly insurmountable lead for the Democratic nomination.

In the days leading up to the vote, speculation swirled as to whether Sanders might leave the race—or at least think seriously about it—if he did poorly on Tuesday. There seems to have been a split in the Sanders camp: Campaign manager Jeff Weaver vowed that the race would go on, while top strategist Tad Devine said the campaign would “sit back and assess where we are” after the results. Some of the Vermonter’s supporters reacted furiously against the reports. Sanders spoke early in the evening from Huntington, West Virginia, where he is campaigning ahead of the May 10 primary. He gave no indication that he had any intention of dropping out, and delivered his standard stump speech, chiding the media—correctly—for underestimating him all along.

Here’s a blunt truth: If you have to deny reports that you’re considering ending your campaign, the damage is done. But there’s also little more inducement for Sanders to leave the race than there was when the polls opened Tuesday. He still has a motivated base, strong fundraising, and a chance to leave a deep imprint on the Democratic platform. In a statement late Tuesday, he more or less conceded that his goal for the rest of the race was to help remake the Democratic Party around his agenda, not to win its nomination. “This campaign is going to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia with as many delegates as possible to fight for a progressive party platform,” Sanders said, arguing that “the people in every state in this country should have the right to determine who they want as president and what the agenda of the Democratic Party should be.”

Clinton, for her part, continued her attempt to pivot to the general election. “With your help, we’re going to cone back to Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention with the most votes and the most pledged delegates,” she said, speaking in the city where her party will hold its convention in July. Clinton made no attempt to disguise her message and goal: “We will unify our party to win this election and build an American where we can all rise together.” In one of her strongest lines, Clinton also took a swipe at Trump, who she noted had accused her of playing “the woman card.” “If fighting for women’s health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the ‘woman card,’ then deal me in,” she said.

Once again, it is the Republican race that offers the most interesting results and promises the most drama ahead. Trump’s win comes amid a week that was chaotic, even by the standards of this year’s boffo GOP contest. Trump, having demoted campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and elevated Paul Manafort, has reportedly now given some power back to Lewandowski, rejecting Manafort’s attempt to run a more traditional campaign. Meanwhile, Trump’s rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich announced an alliance to try to stop the front-runner, only to see it fall apart almost as suddenly as it was revealed. It turned out to be a bad night for anyone hoping to stop Trump.

“I consider myself the presumptive nominee, absolutely,” Trump said during a freewheeling press conference at Trump Tower. The entertainer was freshly back from a Time magazine gala, and he appeared flanked by his family and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. With standard bluster, he rejected any suggestion that he had moderated his tone or approach: "I’m not changing. I went to the best schools. I’m a very smart person. I’m going to represent our country very well." He mischievously suggested that Sanders had been mistreated by the Democratic Party and should run for president as an independent. He said Clinton would be nowhere in politics if she were a man, a comment bound to stir up controversy.

Trump also mocked Cruz and Kasich as well as their supposed alliance, which he called “a faulty deal that was defaulted on” and evidence of traditional politicians’ inability to close deals.

It was a race for the basement between Trump’s two rivals. Both men turned in execrable performances, though each was likely to pick up a handful of delegates in Rhode Island. Kasich delivered weak numbers even though the northeastern states should have been favorable ground for him. The Ohio governor continues to cling to the argument that he is most electable in a general election. Trump’s new nickname for him—1 for 38 Kasich—is clumsy but cutting: Kasich can’t win a primary outside of his home state. Cruz was even weaker. He spoke early in the night, accusing the media of rooting for Trump because he is likely to tear apart the Republican Party.

“The media is going to have heart palpitations this evening,” he scoffed at a rally in Knightstown, Indiana. “They’re gong to be excited, oh so excited about Trump’s victories. The media’s going to say, ‘Oh, the race is over.’ The media’s going to say, ‘Donald Trump is the Republican nominee.’”

Cruz is right about at least one thing: Any such declaration would be premature. There are still too many delegates left to allocate, and too many unknown variables: what Trump’s real clinching point is, how unbound delegates like Pennsylvania’s might lean, and what would happen at a contested convention. Trump looks more solid now than he has in some weeks, though he still needs a very strong finish.

Tuesday’s primaries offered some minor respite for those exhausted by the presidential race, in the form of several hard-fought and consequential down-ballot primaries. In Maryland, Representative Chris Van Hollen beat Representative Donna Edwards to win the Democratic nomination for Senate. Van Hollen will be a favorite to replace retiring Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski. The campaign became a battle between Van Hollen, a white longtime member of the Democratic House leadership, and Edwards, a more progressive African American politician without establishment support. To get a sense of how acrimonious it was, imagine the Clinton-Sanders showdown, but with a racial element and a likely safe seat at stake. Meanwhile, State Senator Jamie Raskin was leading in the race to run in Van Hollen’s stead. That race, for an even safer seat with a laughably short commute to Washington, attracted a large slate of candidates and the biggest self-funded House campaign ever.

In Pennsylvania, Katie McGinty beat out two opponents to win the Democratic nomination for Senate. That, too, was a hotly contested race, in part because incumbent Republican Pat Toomey is seen as one of the most vulnerable senators in November. But the race was also heated because of the presence of Joe Sestak, whom party officials detest. Sestak, a former admiral, was the Democratic nominee against Toomey six years ago, after he ran against and defeated Senator Arlen Specter, who became the party’s favored candidate after switching from the GOP. This time around, Sestak fell short against McGinty, a former environmental aide to Bill Clinton and Al Gore. John Futterman, the progressive mayor of Braddock whose compelling character and interesting ideas attracted media attention, finished third. Elsewhere in the Keystone State, longtime Representative Chaka Fattah, a Democrat who was indicted in 2015, lost his primary to state Representative Dwight Evans. On the Republican side, Representative Bill Shuster, embroiled in scandal over a relationship with a lobbyist who works with the Transportation Committee he chairs, barely survived a primary challenge from Art Halvorson.

The down-ballot primaries are a useful reminder that the presidential race won’t be the only contest come November. Many Republicans fear that a ticket topped by Trump could cost the party control of the Senate and perhaps even the House. But on Tuesday night, Trump himself seemed unconcerned. The nomination, he said, was already his: “When the boxer knocks out the other boxer, you don’t have to wait around for a decision.”

David A. Graham

Updates

This live blog has concluded

Life is a party for Donald Trump tonight. And Ted Cruz and John Kasich aren’t welcome.

The GOP front-runner returned home to Trump Tower victorious Tuesday night, after attending a ​Time​ magazine gala in Manhattan. He was there to convince his remaining opponents to exit the race, and quick. “I consider myself the presumptive nominee,” Trump told reporters in a Q&A, minutes after criticizing Cruz and Kasich’s “faulty deal” to divvy up states and curb his lead.  

Trump directed most of his frustration at Kasich, pointedly asking at one point: “Why is he here?” He said other candidates in the race performed better than Kasich but dropped out long ago—including Senator Marco Rubio; Ben Carson, who’s endorsed Trump; and Chris Christie, who stood behind him as he spoke.

Leading up to today’s address, observers wondered whether Trump would show a more serious side, and he did seem to wade deeper into policy—particularly foreign affairs—than he has in past election-night press conferences. Reporters prompted him to weigh in with their questioning, but Trump was also primed to answer: He’s giving a foreign-policy address in Washington on Wednesday.

But for all that talk, Trump certainly didn’t end the night on a presidential note. “If Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get 5 percent of the vote,” Trump said to a questioner, suggesting Clinton’s success is based entirely on her gender and women’s support. But apparently Trump sees positive signs that he’d win over ladies in the general. “The beautiful thing is, women don’t like her.”

Hillary Clinton is projected the winner of the Connecticut Democratic primary, according to AP and NBC. It was a tight race between the two candidates, with the two in roughly a 2,000-vote range earlier in the night. That closes out the night, with Clinton emerging as the victor in four of the five primaries and giving her a decisive advantage over Sanders.

Katie McGinty, national Democrats’ favored candidate in Pennsylvania, has won the state’s Senate primary, the Associated Press projects. In recent weeks, she was in a close contest with former Representative Joe Sestak, who’d launched a senatorial campaign for the second time in his career without the party’s backing. Pittsburgh-area Mayor John Fetterman finished stronger than expected, with more than 20 percent of the vote so far. Not all precincts were yet reporting.

Washington Democrats and their allies have got to be relieved. In their view, McGinty is the party’s best shot at winning in November against Republican Pat Toomey. The Pennsylvania race is one of several Dems are counting on this fall to flip the Senate majority blue.  

Democrats weren’t subtle with their support. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, unions, and the pro-choice women’s group EMILY’s List spent big bucks to back McGinty, and she garnered endorsements from the likes of President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

In the end, Sestak’s history of bucking the party—he ran for Senate in 2010 against its wishes—didn’t attract many fans in the establishment. But it did attract the foes who’d work against him.

What does it take for a congressional incumbent to lose in a primary this year? A federal indictment, apparently. Democratic Representative Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania became the first sitting House member to lose in 2016 on Tuesday when he conceded defeat to state Representative Dwight Evans. Fattah, currently serving his 11th term in the House, was indicted last year on bribery, racketeering, and other charges related to his 2007 bid for mayor of Philadelphia. Fattah denied the charges, but they clearly took a toll, and with 83 percent of the precincts reporting, he was down by 8 points. Fattah was not the only Pennsylvania incumbent in danger on Tuesday. In the 9th district along the state's southern border, Republican Bill Shuster was up by just two points—about 600 votes—with a little more than half the precincts reporting. Shuster is the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, but amid reports of his romantic relationship with an airline lobbyist, he faced a stiff challenge from Art Halvorson, a conservative real estate executive.

Vote tallies for Clinton and Sanders in Connecticut are still too close to call, so Bernie still has a chance to take one more state this evening. His one victory so far, in tiny Rhode Island, seems mostly symbolic. The state allocates its 24 delegates proportionally, with 9 additional superdelegates allowed to support whomever they like. As of earlier this year, they seemed to be leaning in favor of Clinton.

Even if it won't get the Vermont senator much closer to the nomination, Rhode Island's race is significant for another reason: It's the only open primary in Tuesday's primaries, meaning that voters can be unaffiliated with a party until they cast a ballot at the polls. It's not a totally pure set-up—once voters support a candidate in a Rhode Island primary, they become a default member of the party they voted for and have to disaffiliate again for future elections. Still, tonight's races suggest something that has been evident in other primaries, including the one last week in New York: At least on the Democratic side, closed primaries have been good for the establishment candidate. Bernie may have been at a disadvantage because of the way races were set up in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland. As for Connecticut—we'll soon see.

What a blowout for Trump tonight. If these margins hold in the statewide and district-level results, he’ll sweep all 82 delegates from Connecticut, Delaware, and Maryland. Even in Rhode Island, where the state GOP’s rules virtually preordain a three-way split in district delegates, Trump is hovering slightly above 67 percent in the 2nd congressional district. If he can stay above it, he’ll snatch away a delegate from Cruz.

Ted Cruz just isn’t very popular.

The Texan has tried to turn his Senate colleagues’ scorn to his advantage, holding it up as proof that he—an Ivy League-educated lawyer, Bush administration official, and sitting senator—isn’t a Washington insider.

But tonight, it’s Republican primary voters who are turning away from him. He seems unlikely to garner even a fifth of their votes. John Kasich appears set to finish ahead of Cruz in four of the day’s five contests: Maryland, Rhode Island, Delaware, and Connecticut. The exception, ironically, is Kasich’s native Pennsylvania, where Cruz currently leads by a narrow margin.

Cruz has tried hard to position himself as the most plausible alternative to Donald Trump. And perhaps he is. But if, at this late juncture, voters in four states rank him below John Kasich, he’s going to have an exceptionally hard time making that case in Cleveland. Donald Trump is gaining momentum as the race draws to a close; Cruz is losing it.

CNN and NBC project that Chris Van Hollen has won Maryland’s Democratic Senate primary, defeating his rival, Donna Edwards. The winner of the primary election is all but guaranteed to win in the general election this fall since that the seat is considered safely Democratic. It’s a big victory for Van Hollen, and he must be breathing a sigh of relief, especially given how contentious the race became in the final stretch. Van Hollen cast himself as a candidate with a proven track record of delivering for constituents, while Edwards focused heavily on her race and gender; she also asserted that her record in Congress made her the more deserving candidate. If Edwards had won, she would have made history as just the second black woman to be elected to the Senate. That won’t come to pass. Instead, Van Hollen is now poised to become the successor to outgoing Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski.

Early returns in Baltimore’s democratic mayoral primary show an early substantial lead for State Senator Catherine Pugh over former Mayor Sheila Dixon. The two front-running candidates are far ahead of any challengers, including activist DeRay Mckesson, known as the most recognizable protester linked to Black Lives Matter. These returns all but cement the writing on the wall––that Mckesson will not be the mayor of Baltimore––but the crowded field, and even the energy around the least likely campaigns, shows just how important this election is to the city. My colleague Clare Foran explored the stakes of the race after a year of protests in the wake of Freddie Gray's death.

Hillary Clinton took the stage in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, tonight to “Eye of the Tiger,” proclaiming, “What a great night,” as cheers of “Hillary, Hillary, Hillary” erupted all around her.

Clinton appeared at ease, speaking after the networks had already called Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania in her favor. But she didn’t appear to be taking anything for granted.

Clinton extended an olive branch to supporters of her Democratic rival, Bernie Sanders. “We will unify our party to win this election and build an America where we can all rise together,” Clinton promised, vowing to build “an America where we lift each other up instead of tearing each other down.” Melding the appeal of her pragmatism with Sanders’s idealism, Clinton declared: “We have to be both dreamers and do-ers.” She spoke of achieving “bold progressive goals backed up by real plans.” If the message wasn’t clear enough, Clinton made an explicit appeal for her rival’s fans, applauding Sanders for what he has so far contributed to the race. “There’s much more that unites us than divides us,” Clinton said, deploying a line she has started to use in a bid for party unity.

The message of unity was aimed at far more than just Democrats. As she pivoted to a general-election message, the candidate spoke disparagingly of the Republican 2016 field and urged voters of all political persuasions to support her campaign.

If you are a Democrat, an Independent, or a thoughtful Republican, you know their approach is not going to build an America where we increase opportunity or decrease inequality. So instead of letting them take us backwards, we want America to be in the future business. That’s why I want you to keep imagining a tomorrow where instead of building walls, we are breaking down barriers.

The real loser in Pennsylvania? The Philadelphia Traffic Court. Although essentially a municipally funded meat grinder of graft and incompetence, it somehow got itself written into the state constitution. Today’s vote marks the final step of undoing that woebegone institution.

If Sanders wins Connecticut, it will be the state with the second-largest black population that he has taken, behind Michigan. Connecticut isn’t exactly a major black population center: About a tenth of its population is black, and it is middle-of-the-pack in black share of the population nationally. Other wins in Hawaii, Colorado, and Alaska have given the campaign some hope in overcoming its weakness with people of color, but that hope has now faded with the Northeastern primaries. It is clear now that Sanders’s enduring weakness with nonwhite––especially black––voters that has hamstrung his campaign against Hillary Clinton. If Sanders does indeed win West Virginia, he will have won each of the 10 whitest states in the country.

One interesting note in Pennsylvania: More than half of the voters made up their minds more than a month ago, exit polls show. In previous primaries, those folks have generally voted for Trump. Pennsylvania was no different, with 68 percent of early deciders casting ballots for the New Yorker. But this decisiveness is a fairly recent development: As recently as Wisconsin, only 37 percent of voters had made up their minds a month in advance.

It’s still early, but in Pennsylvania, Katie McGinty holds the lead in the state’s Senate primary, outpacing former Representative Joe Sestak. As Nora reported earlier today, it’s a high-stakes race, as national Democrats look to flip back the Senate to a Democratic majority. Vice President Joe Biden backed McGinty in late March, providing further evidence of the hotly contested race. It would be the victory national Democrats hoped for if McGinty sweeps, but whether that’ll be the case remains to be seen as votes continue to trickle in.

Tonight’s Republican states have some unusual delegate rules. Let’s break them in order of ascending strangeness.

First, the easy ones. Delaware (16 delegates) and Maryland (38 delegates) are winner-take-all states for both the statewide delegates and the congressional-district delegates. With Trump expected to win by wide margins in both states, the delegate counts should be fairly easy tonight.

Connecticut (28 delegates) allocates its 15 congressional-district delegates the same way as Delaware and Maryland does: The candidate who wins the most votes in a district gets all three of its delegates. But its 13 statewide delegates are only winner-take-all if the first-place candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote. Otherwise, they’re allocated proportionally, with candidates below 20 percent taking home no delegates.

What Rhode Island (19 delegates) lacks in geographic size, it makes up for in delegate complexity: 13 statewide delegates are allocated proportionally, excluding candidates who get less than 10 percent of the vote. Trump can win all three delegates in both of the state’s congressional districts if he gets more than 67 percent of the vote in each district. If he doesn’t, the delegates will be divvied up proportionally between the top three candidates, excluding those who receive less than 10 percent of the vote.

Pennsylvania (71 delegates) is an enigma wrapped in a mystery. Its 17 statewide delegates are winner-take-all, which is easy enough. But its 54 congressional-district delegates are completely unbound. Voters vote for them individually within each congressional district, not for Trump or Cruz or Kasich, and prospective delegates don’t identify which candidates they support on the ballot, if any. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review surveyed most of the delegate hopefuls about their preferences, but there’s nothing requiring them to vote that way at the convention. With Trump battling tooth-and-nail to gather 1,237 delegates before Cleveland, these wild cards could potentially seal his nomination on the first ballot—or force a second ballot and an open convention to thwart him.

Ted Cruz isn’t the only candidate blaming the media on a night when the front-runners are expected to do well. Minutes after CNN called Maryland for his opponent Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders began his speech by needling the press for underestimating his campaign when it began last year. The subtext was clear: You counted me out before, and you’re counting me out now.

Sanders didn’t sound like a candidate getting ready to plan his exit as he spoke from West Virginia, which votes May 10. “With your help, we’re going to win here in West Virginia,” Sanders said. “We have won over 1,200 delegates to the Democratic National Convention, and in the last several weeks, the national polls—they don’t show us 60 points down” like they did when the campaign got started.

Earlier Tuesday, Sandersworld had to contend with a report in The New York Times whose headline might have caused confusion, as my colleague Clare Foran noted this afternoon. Judging by the public reaction, it seems that some readers interpreted the report to mean that Sanders might soon drop out of the race. It, of course, wasn’t the first time Sanders’s future has been questioned. But the senator Tuesday night was insistent he’s still the best candidate to beat Donald Trump.

Sanders presented himself as a realist, telling the country to stop “sweep[ing] the hard realities of our lives underneath the rug.” He said the national media—run, he notes, by corporations—doesn’t confront those problems, but “we have to bring [them] out, we have to deal with it.” Sanders seemed to suggest he alone can help Americans “deal”: with economic inequality, Wall Street greed, and other greatest-hits issues from his stump speech.

Blaming the press is by now a campaign trope. But it’s possible Sanders has a point about media coverage, particularly tonight. Within a few minutes of his speech’s start, each of the major networks cut away.

With Delaware potentially in the bag, that leaves Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island still up in the air for the Democrats. The race between Sanders and Clinton is narrowest in Connecticut—a matter of a few hundred votes. But they’re also close in Pennsylvania, which just began reporting returns. Polling showed Clinton winning both states by comfortable margins. Rhode Island appears to be firmly in the Sanders camp so far, with the Vermont senator more than a dozen points ahead, but the polls were mixed on that state, and only around 10 percent of the vote has been counted there.

CNN projects Hillary Clinton will win the Delaware Democratic primary. It’s perhaps an expected victory as Clinton held a comfortable lead in the state, ahead of the state’s primary.

Unsurprisingly, a few trends still hold in the Democratic primary. For one, there’s a considerable difference between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders among age groups. Those under the age of 30 largely back Clinton. In Maryland, Clinton carried voters 30 and older, whereas  72 percent of voters between the ages of 17 and 29 backed Sanders, according to CNN exit poll results. Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, 54 percent of voters aged 30 to 44 backed Sanders. But in general, as Ronald Brownstein and Leah Askarinam noted earlier this week, the patterns that have been seen in the first contests in February have persisted throughout the primary, including a split among racial lines. Take Maryland again, where 73 percent of black voters support Clinton, compared with Sanders’s 25 percent. On the Republican front, evangelicals have largely backed Donald Trump, as have voters aged 45 to 64. This, too, follows a pattern, dating back to earlier contests. All of this may help the front-runners, Clinton and Trump, as they continue to rack up victories, but it could hinder their rivals, looking to close in.

It’s a clean sweep for Donald Trump, as the networks call Rhode Island and Delaware for the Republican front-runner after declaring him the winner in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Connecticut when the polls closed. Trump’s five wins on Tuesday aren’t a surprise—Ted Cruz and John Kasich had already shifted their attention to Indiana and later states. But the early calls for Trump point to big victories and, more importantly, significant delegate hauls that could keep his hopes of capturing the Republican nomination on the first ballot alive.

Aaron Bernstein / Reuters

Tonight, Ted Cruz spoke at a rally in Indiana tonight where he paired Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton together—those New York liberals—as often as possible.  And before I changed the channel, he even told the crowd that he would take them through a 13-point policy analysis to demonstrate the policies where Trump and Clinton have exactly the same positions.

This guy knows how to rally.

Part of the reason that neither Rhode Island nor Delaware were called in either race is that there were no exit polls taken in those states, so the networks have to wait for actual votes to come in. In other words, it’s not necessarily an indication that the races are close.

CNN projects that Hillary Clinton is the winner of the Maryland Democratic presidential primary. The network says it’s too early to call in Pennsylvania and in Connecticut for the Democratic race.

As the polls close in the Northeast, Donald Trump has won Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Connecticut, CNN projects.

Ted Cruz conceded that Donald Trump is likely to do well in tonight’s Northeastern primaries. “You know, tonight, Donald Trump is expected to have a good night,” Cruz told a crowd of supporters in Knightstown, Indiana. He started speaking before polls closed in the five states voting on Tuesday, a sure sign that his campaign expects the results won’t be too favorable to their candidate tonight.

Cruz took a swipe at the media, which he claimed would be quick to declare that Trump has the race all locked up. “The media is going to have heart palpitations this evening, they’re going to be excited, oh so very excited at Donald Trump’s victories,” he said. “The media is going to say the race is over,” Cruz declared to boos.

But Cruz urged his loyal fans not to believe the hype. “I’ve got got good news for you,” the candidate said. “Tonight, this campaign moves back to move favorable terrain.” Cruz emphasized that the upcoming contest in Indiana will be crucial and projected optimism that he can win. “The question is, Can the state of Indiana stop the media’s chosen Republican candidate?” Cruz asked, concluding: “There is nothing that Hoosiers cannot do.”

Late this afternoon, an attorney working on behalf of the Donna Edwards campaign filed a complaint in a Baltimore court. Edwards's aim? For a judge to permit multiple polling locations in the city to stay open till 10 p.m., because they'd opened late this morning. Per The Baltimore Sun, the complaint said that closing the polls on schedule  at 8 p.m. would “threaten to prevent thousands of eligible residents from effectively exercising their right to vote in violation of federal and state law.”

Now, according to the Sun’s Justin Fenton, a decision has been made:

Late-opening polls, absentee workers, tech glitches—none of these problems are unique to this campaign cycle or cycles past, though they have gotten renewed attention in recent weeks with concerns over voting obstacles in Arizona and New York. In Baltimore, Edwards has a vested interest in making sure very vote counts—beyond any principled concerns about voter access. The city is a "key battleground" in the race between Edwards and Chris Van Hollen.

As Andrew noted, more than half of Republican voters said they’d back Donald Trump in November if he secured the nomination. But looming over Tuesday’s primary is the recently announced alliance between Ted Cruz and John Kasich aimed at keeping Donald Trump from getting the coveted 1,237 delegates. But despite their efforts, Republican voters in Connecticut, Maryland, and Pennsylvania cast their ballot “in support of their chosen candidates and not against someone else,” according to NBC’s early exit poll results. Seventy-seven percent of Republican primary voters said they voted for a candidate compared to 20 percent against opponents.

Early exit polls from ABC Democratic and Republican look good for Trump and decent for Clinton, though there are a few encouraging signs for Sanders as well.

More than six in 10 Republican voters say they'd "definitely" vote for Trump in November if he won the nomination, more than twice the number that would absolutely rule him out. ABC notes that this is higher than usual. Religion isn't playing as much of a role in these GOP primaries as it has previously: Only three in 10 Republican voters said they're looking for someone who "shares my values," and only four in 10 identified as evangelical. All of this is good for Trump, a polarizing candidate who usually loses to Cruz among values voters.

On the Democratic side, young people haven't yet turned out, ABC says: Voters in the Acela primaries have skewed older, so far, than expected. More than half of Democratic voters in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Maryland also told pollsters they'd prefer a president that continues Barack Obama's policies over a more liberal candidate, a nod to Clinton.

But the majority of Democrats who voted today also say they primarily value honesty and empathy in their political candidates, an answer closely linked to Sanders support in previously elections. Unfortunately for him, today's primaries have seen less participation from registered independents, a strong voting bloc that's been largely shut out from closed primaries in four out of the five voting states.

The New York Times report on the Sanders campaign continues to spark pushback. Former NAACP president Ben Jealous, a Sanders supporter, denounced the story on Twitter calling it "crazy false." Jealous tweeted: "We are going all the way. Keep Pushing! The path is steep but that is NOT new!" The Times story doesn't say that Sanders isn't going all the way, however. Rather, it states that Sanders will remain in the race until the Democratic convention. But the headline of the piece may have created confusion given that it says, "Bernie Sanders to Reassess Candidacy After Tuesday's Vote, But He'll Stay in Race."

Tuesday looks like it could be a turning point for Bernie Sanders. As Priscilla noted, the Northeastern primaries could serve up a series of defeats for the Sanders campaign. There are now indications from the campaign that something will have to give if the night doesn’t go well for him. According to The New York Times, “Bernie Sanders and his campaign advisers plan to reassess where his candidacy stands after five states vote on Tuesday.” But don’t fear, Bernie fans. The Times adds that Sanders “is adamant that he will remain in the race until the Democratic convention this summer.”

Making matters complicated, however, Jane Sanders seemed to offer a rebuttal later in the afternoon. “We’re not talking about re-assessing anything,” the candidate’s wife told MSNBC after the publication of the Times story.

Still, it seems hard to imagine that the campaign wouldn’t adjust course at all if Tuesday doesn’t go well. The most likely scenario would be that the campaign might change its strategy and message if it emerges from the night without much to show for its efforts. A shift in strategy might mean adopting a more conciliatory tone towards Hillary Clinton in a bid for party unity. Then again, it might not.

As Nora noted today, it’s worth watching the Pennsylvania Senate race tonight. Three Democratic challengers—Joe Sestak, Katie McGinty, and John Fetterman—are vying for the chance to take on Senator Pat Toomey this fall. (There’s a fourth candidate, Joe Vodvarka, but he’s a statistical footnote.)

Sestak, a former U.S. representative, and McGinty, the former chief of staff to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, are leading in the polls. But it’s more likely you’ve heard of Fetterman, the gritty mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, who has garnered national attention for his aggressive progressivism and hands-on leadership in a burnt-out steel town.

“I don't look like a typical politician,” he said in a rally announcing his run. “I don't even look like a typical person.”

Keith Srakocic / AP

Fetterman has a master’s degree from Harvard; his family owns a successful insurance business. But he lives frugally, donating his $150 monthly salary and handing out free food to constituents. He has nine tattoos memorializing each Braddock resident killed since he took office in 2005.

All of this adds up to an interesting character, and the media has taken notice: Fetterman appeared on The Colbert Report twice and has been profiled many times over in the national press. But that hasn’t helped his Senate prospects. He’s in a distant third, with just 15 percent if the vote.

We can assume that the Senate candidates in Maryland and Pennsylvania are voting for themselves today. (The desire to magnanimously vote for one's opponent wears off by middle-school student-council elections.) But which presidential candidates are they backing?

In Maryland, representatives Chris Van Hollen and Donna Edwards have both publicly endorsed Hillary Clinton, so it’s fair to say they cast their ballots today in her favor. Same goes for Katie McGinty in Pennsylvania. Clinton is expected to win both states.

Others in Pennsylvania have taken a different path. Joe Sestak hasn’t publicly endorsed either candidate, and his campaign didn’t immediately respond when asked which candidate he prefers. John Fetterman's campaign confirmed to me that he voted for Bernie Sanders this morning; Fetterman has been vocal about his support for the Vermont senator and their shared zeal for economic-inequality issues.

And then, of course, there’s Republican Senator Pat Toomey, who’s not on the ballot today but will go up against whichever Democrat wins. He voted for his colleague Ted Cruz, noting that Cruz has “a real, real viable shot of beating Hillary Clinton in the fall.” What Cruz doesn’t have, though, is a real, viable shot at winning Pennsylvania: Donald Trump is expected to take the state.

Hillary Clinton is expected to have a strong performance on Tuesday, but Bernie Sanders could eke out a win in Rhode Island. FiveThirtyEight forecasts a 59 percent chance that Sanders wins in the Ocean State, which could provide the silver lining he needs to power him through the next leg of the primary season. And there’s reason to think he’ll get it.

In states like Illinois and New York, Clinton has been able to clinch the urban vote. But as the Los Angeles Times noted, Sanders actually won more counties in New York, just not the most populated ones. Providence, however, looks ripe for Sanders’s picking. It has a median age of 28, and with Brown, Jonson and Wales, RISD, and Providence College, it’s a college town’s college town. The New York Times called the student population a potential “lifeline” to the senator. The caveat? Young voters are registered in lower numbers, those of them who are in college out of their home state may not have registered where they study, and even those who are are less likely to show up to the polls. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2012, 47.5 percent of Rhode Islanders aged 18-29 reported voting in the general, compared with 66 percent of their elders.

Part of what makes Pennsylvania interesting today is its wackadoo Republican delegate selection process. Of the state’s 71 delegates, 17 will go to whoever wins the popular vote. But the remaining 54 are elected directly and aren’t bound to a specific candidate, meaning they’re free to pick whomever they please once at the convention in Cleveland.

The Pennsylvania ballot doesn’t even list each delegate’s current preference for president—not that they have to give one. It’s entirely up to the campaigns and the delegates themselves to publicize who is in which corner. So today, millions of Pennsylvanian Republicans will walk into voting booths and pull levers, quite possibly at random, for people who could change their minds.

(For what it’s worth, The Morning Call in Allentown has made a herculean effort to nail down delegate positions.)

Here's a contender for weird/fake endorsement of the day: A Grand Dragon of the California branch of the KKK allegedly told Vocativ, an organization "at the nexus of media and technology," that it is endorsing Hillary Clinton. "She is friends with the Klan," said Will Quigg, citing as evidence her friendship with Bobby Byrd, the long-time United States senator from West Virginia who was in the KKK as a young man. Quigg also claimed the organization had raised $20,000 in anonymous donations for the Clinton campaign.

This is fairly obviously B.S. The Clinton campaign denies it has received nearly that much money in anonymous funds, and the Vocativ reporter even noted that he factchecked and verified the campaign's claim using F.E.C. filings. But hey! A Klansman said the name "Hillary Clinton" with a gleeful smile on his face, so take that for what it's worth, which is probably roughly nothing.

Are you struggling to maintain focus as the presidential primary enters the back nine? Maybe you’re not that into politics. Maybe you’re just tired of this cycle. Maybe the candidate you backed has left the race, leaving you discouraged.

Now, imagine how checked out you might feel if, say, you were a one-time rising star who’d been hailed as the future of the Republican Party, only to drop out after losing your home state. CNN’s Manu Raju caught up with Senator Marco Rubio today, and the Floridian was, to be charitable, not yet locked in to today’s primaries:

To be fair, Rubio’s future in politics is cloudy. He’s leaving the Senate at the end of his term in January, has rejected the idea of being a vice-presidential candidate, and has no plans to run for other offices at this point. And given how discouraged other members of his party are, why would he want to pay attention now?

Charles Mostoller / Reuters

Voter turnout is expected to be high on Tuesday, especially in Pennsylvania and Maryland where two tight races are playing out. According to The Baltimore Sun, more than 260,000 people cast ballots during early voting in Maryland. And in Pennsylvania, some polling locations saw an increase in machines and poll workers.

Meanwhile, in Connecticut, state election officials are also expecting high turnout, as a result of an uptick in voter registration. And they’re prepared in case voters come across issues, which has come up more than once in the presidential primary thus far. Whatever the case may be, the primary is sure to draw an influx of voters.

Pennsylvania is Philadelphia in the east, Pittsburgh in the west and Alabama in the middle.

Being from the Keystone State, I’ve heard that nugget often enough that it now provokes nausea. The fact that it’s true...well, that makes it all the more grating. The twin liberal cities of Pennsylvania are indeed balanced by the state’s rural, conservative center, which has led to a Democratic governor but a Republican-controlled state assembly.

Recent polling says Donald Trump will win in every region among Republicans, though Ted Cruz has a ghost of a chance in the state’s Amish-y center. But the Democratic race is more interesting. Hillary Clinton wins in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and central Pennsylvania, while Sanders is leading in the state’s east and northwest. That territory is home to Reading—one of the country’s poorest cities—and Allentown, where a decades-long influx of Latinos has profoundly changed the industrial city’s character.

Clinton is still projected to win overall—her base in the affluent Philadelphia suburbs and the working-class Democrats of the major cities appears strong enough to fend off a challenge. But it appears Pennsylvania’s smaller cities are giving Bernie Sanders a close look. They’re exactly the kind of Rust Belt communities he says he wants to help most; it’ll be interesting to see if they buy it.

Representatives Chris Van Hollen and Donna Edwards are fighting an "intense and increasingly personal battle" to replace Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski, who's retiring after serving five terms. This week, their fellow Marylander Martin O'Malley jumped into the fray in a last-minute bid to influence the race. He announced late Monday that he's backing Van Hollen in today's election, noting the congressman was a "reliable, progressive partner" when O'Malley served in government.

We haven't heard much from the former presidential candidate since he dropped out of the race in February. This is only his second endorsement this year—he's supporting John Fetterman for Senate in Pennsylvania—and he hasn't yet weighed in on which Democrat he's backing for president.

O'Malley might be hoping to swing voters Van Hollen's way, but as The Baltimore Sun has described, the range of his influence isn't clear:

On the one hand, many state Democrats aligned with O'Malley we're already supporting Van Hollen. And O'Malley did not garner much support for his presidential bid even in his home state.

On the other hand, O'Malley is still one of the state's best-known names in Democratic politics, he was widely credited with running an energetic, issues-based presidential campaign, and he is still popular in many quarters of Baltimore and its suburbs—exactly the geography that has become the battleground in the Senate race.

The Baltimore City Health Department is taking advantage of the Maryland primary elections today with a push to train poll-goers in how to respond to heroin overdoses with naloxone. Naloxone training and outreach is especially important in Baltimore, now one of the centers of the national opioid epidemic after years of being known as a hot zone for heroin distribution. The trainings also reflect that the opioid epidemic is one of the key issues this year’s elections, not only at the local level, but nationally.

Each presidential candidate has accordingly proposed a policy that could fight the epidemic, with both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders focusing on a public-health approach to the crisis and Sanders especially looking to hold prescription drug companies responsible. Republican candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have proposed further securing the border with Mexico to limit illegal drug smuggling as a response, despite little evidence that this strategy will accomplish anything but bolstering domestic opioid production.

Bernie Sanders appears to be at a disadvantage on Tuesday’s Northeastern primaries. For one, polls show Hillary Clinton ahead. But the demographics in some of the states could also hinder the Vermont senator. In Maryland, African Americans are expected to make up more than 40 percent of the Democratic primary electorate. And in Pennsylvania, African Americans back Clinton over Sanders, 67 percent to 29 percent, according to a NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll. Thus far in the presidential primary, African American voters have largely flocked to Clinton. According to The Washington Post, “this year black Democrats have voted for Clinton over Sanders by a 59 percentage-point margin (79-20).”

Another setback for Sanders could be that four of the five primaries today are closed primaries. A similar situation happened in New York, which was also a closed primary. Sanders has fared well with Independent voters, but if they’re not registered to vote with a particular party, that hardly helps him.

Whatever the case, Sanders isn’t likely to walk away from the race. His campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, has said they’re going all the way to the convention.

The nation’s most prominent Delawarean, Vice President Joe Biden, already cast his ballot in his hometown of Wilmington on Friday, though it’s not clear which Democrat he backed. As CNN has noted, Biden has repeatedly weighed in on the race, but his allegiances aren’t clear. The veep, of course, considered running this cycle himself before announcing in the fall that he wouldn't run.

Biden has invested a lot of energy in Tuesday’s Senate contests as part of national Democratic push to take back the upper chamber. That’s particularly true in Pennsylvania, where Biden grew up and where he was campaigning alongside candidate Katie McGinty on Monday. She’s in a competitive race against former congressman Joe Sestak, and Biden and President Obama have both endorsed her.  

Biden has less to worry about in his beloved Delaware. None of the state’s seats are up for grabs today.

Poor John Kasich. In what looks to be an ever-weakening agreement-of-last-resort with Ted Cruz, he got the short end of the deal—bowing out of Indiana, a big delegate state, in exchange for a clear battle against Trump in Oregon and New Mexico, where votes are proportionally allocated for a small number of delegates. On NBC this morning, he told The Today Show, “I don’t tell voters what to do.” When asked what his message to Indiana voters is, he replied, “I’m not getting into that.”

Perhaps he gave up on himself too soon. In today’s primaries, he’s polling behind Cruz and Trump in Pennsylvania, according to Real Clear Politics, but he’s in second place in Connecticut, Maryland, Rhode Island, and Delaware. Maybe his strategy of not actually asking voters to vote for him is working somewhere?