Trump sweeps Atlantic primaries
© Greg Nash

Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpMark Kelly clinches Democratic Senate nod in Arizona Trump camp considering White House South Lawn for convention speech: reports Longtime Rep. Lacy Clay defeated in Missouri Democratic primary MORE swept all five states up for grabs in Tuesday's GOP primaries, giving his hopes for winnin the party's presidential nomination a huge boost.

The big victories for Trump, who topped 60 percent in several states, make it much less likely that rivals Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate Democrats prepare seven-figure spending spree in Texas On The Trail: The first signs of a post-Trump GOP Trump tests GOP loyalty with election tweet and stimulus strategy MORE and John Kasich will force the race to a contested convention this summer in Cleveland.

Trump called on both of his rivals to drop out of the race and pivoted to the general election, where he said Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Hill's Campaign Report: Even the Post Office is political now | Primary action tonight | Super PACS at war Should Biden consider a veteran for vice president? Biden leads Trump by nearly 40 points in California: poll MORE would be an easier opponent to defeat than the more than a dozen Republicans he has topped in the GOP race so far.

“I consider myself the presumptive nominee, absolutely," he said at a press conference at his New York hotel.
 
"Sen. Cruz and Gov. Kasich should really get out of the race, they have no path to victory and honestly they should get out of the race, we should heal the Republican party, bring the Republican Party back together.
 
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s over. These two guys can’t win, there’s no path," he continued. "So why would I change? If you have a football team and you are winning and you get to a super bowl, you don’t change your quarterback."
 
Cruz, who came to the cameras from Indiana before any of the polls closed, promised to fight on, and said the race would now move to territory more favorable to his campaign.
 
“Tonight, Donald Trump is expected to have a good night. He’s likely to win some states and the media is going to have heart palpitations this evening,” Cruz said. “And the media is going to say the race is over. The media is going to say Donald Trump is the Republican nominee.

“Everyone of them are ready for Hillary,” he continued before arguing that he is the only candidate who can beat Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner, in a general election.

There were 118 bound delegates at stake in contests in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island, and Trump is poised to take a strong majority of these by virtue of winning the popular vote in each state.

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Trump will get all 17 bound delegates in Pennsylvania, as well as the 16 up for grabs in winner-take-all Delaware.

Trump's victories in Maryland and Connecticut make it likely he’ll take a majority of the 66 delegates for those two states, as the bulk are allocated in winner-take-all contests at the congressional district level.

Trump’s haul will be limited in Rhode Island, which awards its delegates on a strictly proportional basis. But the GOP front-runner will still take more delegates than Cruz or Kasich.

Trump entered Tuesday with 845 delegates, needing to win about 58 percent of the remaining 674 still up for grabs to get to 1,237 delegates, the threshold for clinching the nomination. 

The sweep means Trump is likely to lower the percentage of delegates he needs to win the rest of the way to get to 1,237.

GOP candidates now go to Indiana, which is viewed as the latest hurdle to Trump by his rivals. If Trump wins the state, he’s almost certain to become the nominee.

To try to hold him off, Cruz and Kasich entered into an alliance in Indiana, with Kasich agreeing to pull his resources from the state to allow for a one-on-one contest between Trump and Cruz.

Polls show Trump with a narrow lead over the Texas senator one week before voters head to the polls.

Cruz and Kasich both hope that if Trump doesn’t get 1,237 delegates, a GOP convention could settle on a different nominee. Cruz believes he can win enough support on a second ballot to become the GOP nominee.  

The Trump campaign has thus far struggled with the inside game of getting supporters elected as delegates. Cruz has routed Trump time and again on that front, even in states Trump handily won in the popular vote.

The latest test for Trump will come in Pennsylvania, where 54 of the state’s delegates are elected directly by voters and unbound to any candidate.

Many of those candidates have already said they'll support whoever wins their district, at least on the first ballot at the convention, but Cruz has been working hard to ensure his supporters are selected as delegates. That could help him on subsequent ballots at a contested convention.

The Trump campaign had two House members — Pennsylvania Reps. Tom Marino and Lou BarlettaLouis (Lou) James BarlettaBottom Line Ex-GOP congressman to lead group to protect Italian products from tariffs Head of Pennsylvania GOP resigns over alleged explicit texts MORE — working on the ground to get Trump's operations up to speed.

The Trump campaign passed around a delegate slate card at polling stations across the state, urging voters to select candidates that have already pledged their support to the GOP front-runner.