ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, UNITED STATES (MARCH 1, 2016) (REUTERS) – Voting is underway in Arlington, Virginia on Super Tuesday (March 1) where front-runners Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are poised for big wins.
Trump is in position to take firm control of the Republican presidential race when 11 states vote, an outcome likely to intensify concerns among party leaders that the brash billionaire has hijacked the party.
In the Democratic race, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton can go a long way toward silencing concerns about her candidacy with big victories of her own over democratic socialist Bernie Sanders on Super Tuesday.
Trump was leading in nearly all the states that will hold primary contests or caucuses, most of them in the American South. The lone exception appeared to be Texas, where U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, who represents that state, enjoyed a narrow lead and was in desperate need of a victory.
Trump, a New York real estate developer and former reality TV star, has defied all expectations with campaign pledges to build a wall along the U.S. southern border with Mexico and deport 11 million illegal immigrants.
With a string of victories on Tuesday, he would advance toward sealing the nomination against opposition from Cruz, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, Ohio Governor John Kasich and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.
On the Democratic side, polls show Clinton, who has won three of the first four Democratic contests, with a big lead in six Southern states that have large blocs of black voters, who have been slow to warm to Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont.
Sanders has been aiming for wins in five other states on Tuesday – Vermont, neighboring Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Minnesota and Colorado.
One factor helping Clinton is a focus on getting her voters to make their choices early. More than half the delegates needed to secure the Democratic nomination will be chosen in March with contests in 28 states, and more than a third of those have early voting.