With each passing week, it becomes more and more likely that Donald Trump will become the Republican Party’s presidential nominee.
Even if Trump falls short Tuesday against rival Marco Rubio in Florida, he still sits on a pile of delegates that his competitors would need a miracle to match. For Trump’s opponents, at this moment, the goal is more about denying Trump the 1,237 delegates required to capture the nomination when the party leaders, activists and donors arrive in Cleveland for the GOP’s convention.
It’s why Tuesday’s voting in Florida and Ohio are so key. Rubio is looking for a win in his home state. His handful of wins—Minnesota, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia—make his path to an overall victory tricky if not impossible. The nomination has been slipping further and further from him for weeks, and the tone of his campaign has been in the dregs. The candidate went so far as to post this quote to his Instagram page late Monday: “My worst days are better than some of my parents’ best days.” And it was clear Tuesday might be a very bad day for Rubio, although he has insisted he would not drop out if he fails in Florida.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich was more upbeat. He was in strong position to do well at home, and Ohio might give him his first victory in the campaign. But Kasich remains a desperate long shot to win the nomination, even though he insists there are hundreds of delegates still unpledged. “He’s delusional, but I’d still rather be John Kasich than Marco Rubio,” one Ohio veteran of George W. Bush’s campaigns said. For his part, Kasich has said he has to win Ohio or start looking at the exits.
Kasich’s exit is part of what prompted Trump to make a last-minute pushinto Ohio on Monday evening, campaigning in the hard-hit Mahoning Valley. Trump was trying to run up the score there and embarrass Kasich. Indeed, Trump unleashed the harshest words yet for Kasich, but stopped short of giving him a belittling nickname like “Little Marco” or “Lyin’ Ted.” Trump also promised to re-open the steel mills and factories that dot every northeast Ohio town.
Kasich told reporters on Tuesday that if he prevails in Ohio, he would start being more aggressive in his criticism of Trump.
The math simply isn’t on the side of those looking to stand between Trump and the nomination. If Trump bests Rubio in Florida, but Kasich prevails in Ohio, then Trump would need to win just 40% of the remaining delegates to become the nominee. That is likely to happen on June 7. If Trump wins Ohio and Florida, then that threshold slides down to 33% — meaning he could lose two-thirds of the remaining delegates and still be the nominee.
Meanwhile, Ted Cruz was looking to be competitive in Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina. All three states allocate delegates proportionally, and Cruz was banking on a series of strong second-place finishes and perhaps even an upset victory or two. The Texan is in second place in the delegate race, but he would need a serious string of surprises to win the nomination.
For Democrats, the day was shaping up to be another slog for delegates, with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders battling over every one of them. Clinton was bracing for another rout among white, working-class voters who abandoned her in Michigan last week. But her campaign was also comforted by the fact that she still has a strong lead in delegates, and was unlikely to see those evaporate on Tuesday. She’ll still get delegates, adding to her pile heading toward the nominating convention in Philadelphia.
This article was originally published on Time.com.