Donald Trump romped through the second biggest day in American politics – only November presidential elections are grander – etching his name on seven trophies in the Republican party’s Super Tuesday display case.
Three states, Texas, Oklahoma, and Alaska, eluded his grasp and went to Ted Cruz, a senator from the Lone Star State.
And Marco Rubio had a dismal night, claiming only Minnesota’s caucuses.
In the Democratic race, Hillary Clinton swept seven states over Bernie Sanders – a commanding performance that will settle nerves in her campaign.
But the rest of the night belonged to The Donald.
The billionaire real estate tycoon has been declared the GOP primary winner in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia.
Cruz held on to claim Texas on the strength of an almost single-minded campaign strategy that ceded other southern territories to Trump.
Partly as a result, the GOP front-runner’s early victories set a blowout pace.
The tea party senator later added Oklahoma to his column in an unexpected development: Trump had out-polled him there a week ago by a dozen percentage points. And early in the morning Cruz won Alaska by 2.6 per cent.
Bragging rights will go to the senator in the year’s first ‘closed’ GOP primary, where voters were required to register as Republicans weeks earlier, could go either way.
But the front-runner Trump broke Cruz’s serve in return, winning in Arkansas despite trailing there in recent polls.
Eleven states in all hosted Republican presidential primaries or caucuses on Tuesday, and pre-election polling showed Trump with solid leads in eight of the contests.
The results will determine how many delegates who are ‘bound’ to each candidate will attend this year’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.
The Associated Press declared Trump the victor in Georgia – the first decision of the night – almost immediately after polls closed at 7:00 p.m.
With 77.2 per cent of the votes counted in the Peach State, The Donald had a 40-24 lead over Cruz, his nearest competitor. Rubio was just a hair’s breadth further back.
By 8:00 p.m. the former reality TV star had punched his nomination ticket in three more states just minutes after their polling places closed for the day.
Virginia jumped into Trump’s win column at around 8:45 p.m. Arkansas came at 10:25.
But Cruz’s two victories establish that Trump’s brand of populism hasn’t yet penetrated fully into cowboy country.
In a Super Tuesday speech, Trump congratulated Cruz on his Texas win but took a swipe at Rubio.
‘I know it was a very tough night for Marco Rubio. he had a tough night,’ Trump told a packed room of journalists and well-wishers at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida.
‘He is a lightweight as I’ve said many times before.’
Read more: Daily Mail