Donald Trump was projected the winner of the Republican primaries in Mississippi and Michigan Tuesday night, and later was declared the winner in the Hawaii Republican caucus.
Fox News and MSNBC called the race in Mississippi in favor of Trump about a half hour after polls closed at 8 P.M. EST. The race in Mississippi was initially too close to call immediately after polls closed, though early returns indicated that Trump held a lead over his competitors.
Later, multiple networks also declared Trump the winner in Michigan. Exit polls indicated that Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz followed Trump in a battle for second place, while Florida Sen. Marco Rubio trailed further behind in fourth.
Trump delivered a victory speech at his headquarters in Florida following the announcement of the Michigan results during which he jabbed at his fellow candidates as well as Republicans who have criticized him, including 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.).
“Every single person that’s attacked me has gone down,” Trump said. “Only one person did well tonight: Donald Trump. I will tell you.”
While Trump was the big winner coming out of Tuesday’s voting, Cruz also recorded a victory in the Republican primary in Idaho. Cruz won by a wide margin, taking 45 percent of the vote followed by Trump in second with 28 percent.
The Republican presidential candidates headed into four primary contests Tuesday, including in the key state of Michigan, where 59 delegates were up for grabs.
Recent polling indicated that Trump maintained a double-digit lead over the rest of the field in Michigan, with Kasich and Cruz following behind in second and third, respectively. Trump also had a sizeable edge over his competitors in Mississippi.
The primaries in Michigan, Mississippi, and Idaho Tuesday, as well as the Republican caucus in Hawaii, presented crucial opportunities for Trump to solidify his frontrunner status. While the business mogul enjoyed significant wins in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, and seven states on Super Tuesday, Trump’s momentum appeared to slow over the weekend.
Cruz recorded victories in Kansas and Maine on Saturday, adding them to his wins in Iowa, Alaska, Oklahoma, and his home state of Texas. Trump finished Saturday with first-place finishes in Kentucky and Louisiana, while Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was able to secure Puerto Rico on Sunday.
Kasich, the fourth and final candidate in the race, has yet to win a state, though his campaign gained momentum following a second-place finish in the first-in-the-nation primary in New Hampshire last month. Kasich also nearly beat Trump in Vermont one week ago, though the business mogul eventually came away with the state’s delegates.
While Trump has captured support from Republican voters, some party leaders have expressed dissatisfaction with his candidacy. Last week, Mitt Romney delivered a scathing critique of Trump, advising GOP voters against casting their ballots for him.
“Here’s what I know: Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud,” Romney said during a speech in Salt Lake City on Thursday. “His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing members of the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House, and all we get is a lousy hat.”
Some have looked toward the prospect of a brokered convention as an opportunity to prevent Trump from being the GOP nominee.
Following Tuesday night’s results, the candidates will set their sites on crucial states voting on March 15, which include Florida and Ohio, both winner-take-all states, Illinois, Missouri, and North Carolina.