Who will be today's big winners? Pundits weigh in

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The Hill asked a number of commentators to predict what happens in today's Republican and Democratic primaries. Here's what they had to say.


Bradley A. Blakeman

Winners: Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump lands first major newspaper endorsement Clinton: Trump's election talk poses 'threat to our democracy' Clinton displays at Trump event raise eyebrows MORE and Ohio Gov. John Kasich

Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioNew York Times endorses Rubio's rival Rubio: GOP Congress could go in different direction than Trump Poll: Clinton holds 4-point lead in Florida MORE (Fla.) will lose to Trump in Florida and as a result, Rubio will have to exit the race. Rubio had the misfortune of running against a front-runner with honest-to-goodness strong and deep ties to Florida. Many Floridians believe Florida is Trump's legitimate second home. In Ohio, Kasich will win, but not going away. Trump will come in second, and third and fourth place will not matter since it is winner-take-all. After Tuesday, the question will be: How do Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzIs Georgia turning blue? Five takeaways from money race Club for Growth: Anti-Trump spending proved to be 'good call' MORE (Texas) and Kasich block and tackle Trump from getting the 1,237 delegates needed for the nomination? The next delegate-rich states to watch are Arizona (with 58 delegates), Utah (40), Wisconsin (42) and New York, the latter with a whopping 95. It should be noted that to date, Trump has won battleground general election states like New Hampshire, Virginia, Nevada, which are must wins for Republicans. It is not only that he is winning; it is where he is winning and with what demographics. A plurality may get you a state, but it will not necessarily get you the nomination.

Blakeman is a professor of public policy, politics and international affairs at Georgetown University and was a senior adviser to former President George W. Bush.

Former Rep. John LeBoutillier (R-N.Y.)

Winners: Trump, Kasich and Cruz

Trump and Cruz are going to emerge as the big winners today.

Rubio is going to get shellacked in Florida and drop out on Wednesday. He will NOT endorse The Donald – ever.

Kasich will win Ohio by 1 or 2 percentage points and will stay in the race.

Trump will win Florida big, and will average his usual 35 percent in Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina.

Cruz will place second in almost every state, and accumulate enough delegates to make the argument that only he can take on Trump and deny him the nomination. Cruz has flown under the radar lately — and that actually has calmed down his image a bit — thus making it more palatable for establishment GOP figures to hold their tongues and actually endorse Cruz in an effort to stop Trump.

The Stop Trump Movement — which will have spent over $10 million — will be deemed a complete flop.

LeBoutillier is a former Republican congressman from New York and is the co-host of "Political Insiders" on Fox News Channel.

Matt Mackowiak

Winners: Trump, Kasich and Cruz

Today has a chance to be the most consequential day of the entire Republican nomination contest.

Major battleground states Ohio and Florida are winner-take-all, and they can end the campaigns of their home-state candidates.

Rubio's campaign is running on fumes. He has no path to 1,237 delegates and he will likely be the first major party presidential candidate to lose his home state primary since 1992 (while a sitting state official).

I do not think Rubio can win Florida. He had a strong early voter turnout initially, but several factors have worked against him and his mediocre approval ratings in the state and break with the Tea Party over immigration have really hurt him. He needs huge South Florida turnout because that's his base, while Trump will run up the score in north Florida. The I-4 corridor from Tampa to Orlando will decide who wins. Florida is a closed primary — which benefits Rubio and Cruz and hurts Trump — but I expect a 6 to 8 percentage point win in Florida for Trump due to his momentum.

Ohio is a closer call, but I think Kasich has very real momentum there (as evidenced by 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney campaigning with him Monday at two stops). Kasich also has a real organization, and he has broad support, with an approval rating around 80 percent. I expect a comfortable Kasich win in Ohio of 3 to 5 points.

Most people don't realize Illinois, North Carolina and Missouri combine to have more delegates than Ohio and Florida.

I expect Cruz to win Missouri, Trump to narrowly win Illinois, and North Carolina could go either way.

Trump splitting Florida and Ohio means the race continues, likely with only three active candidates. Only six winner-take-all states remain (Arizona, Delaware, Nebraska, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota). Cruz will need to rapidly unify the party behind him to overtake Trump as overall delegate leader.

I do expect an open convention that goes past the first ballot.

Mackowiak is a syndicated columnist; an Austin, Texas-based Republican consultant; and a former Capitol Hill and George W. Bush administration aide.

Ford O'Connell

Winners: Trump and Kasich

Super Tuesday 2.0 is likely to be a very good day for Trump, and it could be a defining moment in the race. Trump will win Florida, North Carolina, Illinois and Missouri, netting his campaign in the neighborhood of 200 delegates out of a possible 367. That said, the main event is Ohio. Fortunately for the anti-Trump forces, Kasich will eke out a win in this winner-take-all state.

That leaves Trump as still the best-positioned candidate to secure the 1,237 delegates needed for the nomination, but to accomplish that he will have to win roughly 60 percent of the remaining delegates — a high bar, but certainly not impossible. Taking a step back and looking at the delegate math, a contested convention remains a 50/50 proposition.

O'Connell is the chairman of CivicForumPAC, worked on John McCainJohn McCainIs Georgia turning blue? High anxiety for GOP Trump: 'Very disappointed' GOP senator dropped support MORE's 2008 presidential campaign and is author of the book "Hail Mary: The 10-Step Playbook for Republican Recovery."


Former Rep. Bill Owens (D-N.Y.)

Winner: Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonTrump lands first major newspaper endorsement Clinton: Trump's election talk poses 'threat to our democracy' Clinton reacts to the Chicago Cubs clinching World Series spot MORE

The chaos in this year's presidential campaign continues to gather steam after Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersClinton camp oppo research: Sanders has 'no accomplishments' Heck's rejection of Trump imperils Nevada Senate race Goldman CEO: 'I’m supportive of Hillary Clinton' MORE's (Vt.) win in Michigan and with the polls confirming that the back-and-forth will likely continue between Clinton and Sanders — but with a significantly more civil tenor than the GOP. Close races in Illinois (Clinton's birthplace and a Democratic stronghold), Ohio and Missouri might not bode well for Clinton, as we've seen that Sanders has the ability to swing the close races into his column. My crystal ball shows Clinton securing 527 delegates with blowout wins in Florida and North Carolina and a single-digit win in Ohio.

Owens represented New York's North Country from 2009 until retiring from the House in 2015. He is a partner in the Plattsburgh, N.Y., firm of Stafford, Owens, Piller, Murnane, Kelleher & Trombley, PLLC.


Eric Ham

Winners: Trump and Clinton

Expect Clinton and Trump to hold serve in the all-important Super Tuesday II states. Missouri, Ohio and Florida are integral to victory in November, cementing their status as the front-runners. However, a Fox News poll shows Trump and Kasich locked in a heated battle for Ohio, but given Trump's lead in Florida, Illinois and Missouri, a Kasich win in Ohio will be an afterthought. Rubio is poised for a shutout once again, thus ending his presidential ambitions.

Sanders is trailing in all Super Tuesday II states, yet do not expect Sanders to go quietly as he could replicate another surprise showing in Ohio, a la Michigan. Still, Trump and Clinton will only expand their leads in the delegate count, suggesting the end is near on both sides of the aisle.

Ham is author of the national bestseller, "The GOP Civil War: Inside the Battle for the Soul of the Republican Party." He is a contributor to the P.O.T.U.S. Channel on SiriusXM Radio and provides political analysis for the BBC. Follow him on Twitter @EKH2016.