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Hillary Clinton sweeps Super Tuesday primaries, widens lead over Bernie Sanders

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton arrives to a cheering crowd to speak at a campaign event at the Grady Cole Center in Charlotte, N.C., Monday, March 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Hillary Clinton widened her delegate lead against Sen. Bernie Sanders in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination after sweeping the Super Tuesday primaries, taking home wins in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Illinois and Missouri.

Though Sanders put up a fight in North Carolina, Ohio, Illinois and Missouri, Clinton left Tuesday the true winner. Her extensive win in Florida propelled her ever closer to the party’s nomination.

On Tuesday, Clinton took home 122 delegates in Florida, 156 in Illinois, 56 in North Carolina and 75 in Ohio. Sanders won the remaining 60 in Florida, 26 in North Carolina and 38 in Ohio.

The Missouri race was determined to be too close to call, but Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander crowned Clinton as the unofficial winner in the state as well.

Clinton and Sanders competed in primaries in Florida and Ohio, the nation’s two leading general election battleground states, along with Missouri, North Carolina and Illinois. All of the states awarded delegates based on percentage.

Sanders aimed for victory in Missouri and was within striking distance in Illinois and Ohio, two states where he hoped his trade-focused message would resonate.

It helped him pull off an upset in Michigan last week, prompting him to continue to question Clinton’s past support for trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“Secretary Clinton has supported virtually every one of these disastrous trade agreements,” Sanders said Monday in Charlotte, North Carolina. “When decision time came, as to whether you were on the side of working people, or corporate America, she made the wrong decision.”

Entering Tuesday, Clinton has more than half of the pledged delegates needed to win the nomination, compared to the 770-plus for Sanders, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.

Overall, Clinton holds 1,561 of total delegates, more than half the amount needed to clinch the nomination when the count includes superdelegates, who are elected officials and party leaders free to support the candidate of their choice.

“The numbers are adding up in my favor,” Clinton told reporters in Raleigh, North Carolina on Tuesday.

Sanders has 800 delegates when the count includes superdelegates.

The proportional awarding of the 700 Democratic delegates on Tuesday meant Sanders faced an uphill battle in cutting Clinton’s lead, but his campaign is hoping a swing to primaries in western states — including Arizona — next week will keep him in the running long enough to claw his way back into the race.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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