Dem race tightens as Bernie surges in Midwest

Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders, Manchin escalate fight over .5T spending bill Sanders blames media for Americans not knowing details of Biden spending plan Briahna Joy Gray: Proposals favored by Black voters 'first at the chopping block' in spending talks MORE is within striking distance of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden sends 'best wishes' to Clinton following hospitalization The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Jan. 6 panel flexes its muscle MORE in three of the five states hosting contests on Tuesday.

The tightening polls suggest the presidential hopeful has another opportunity to upend the Democratic race after his upset win last week in Michigan.

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Sanders was ahead of Clinton in one survey of Missouri released Monday by Public Policy Polling and within a few points of the Democratic front-runner in PPP polls of Illinois and Ohio.

It’s possible Clinton could still win more delegates even if Sanders wins all three states, by keeping the margin close and winning big in Florida and North Carolina. But the loss of Ohio, in particular, would raise questions about her candidacy. It would also give Sanders first-place finishes in seven of the last 11 contests.

Clinton enters Tuesday with a lead of over 200 pledged delegates, a gap that will be very difficult for Sanders to close. Her lead jumps to more than 600 delegates when superdelegates — the party appointees who can support any candidate prior to the party convention — are included.

On the GOP side, Tuesday could mark the end of the line for Florida Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioDefense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' Tim Scott takes in .3 million in third quarter MORE and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Both are desperately seeking to block real estate mogul Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Hackers are making big money MORE from claiming victory in the winner-take-all contests in their home states.

Rubio trails Trump badly in the race for Florida’s 99 GOP delegates, while Kasich is running even with the billionaire for the 66 delegates up for grabs in Ohio.

If Trump wins both states, he’ll be slightly more than halfway to the delegates needed to win the nomination outright and avoid a contested convention.

Here’s a look at how things are shaping up in the five states where voters will cast ballots Tuesday:

Florida

The Sunshine State is the biggest delegate prize of the day.

Florida will play a critical role in the GOP primary, with all 99 of the state’s Republican delegates going to the winner, whether the race is determined by one or 1 million votes.

Polls show Trump leading by between 17 and 24 points in the last eight surveys. The race could be called as soon as 8 p.m., when the last polls close.

The big question of the night is whether Rubio will drop out of the race if he doesn’t finish first.

There is still some rationale for Rubio’s candidacy; some believe the best way to block Trump from taking the nomination is for the remaining three candidates to continue collecting delegates in an effort to force a contested convention.

But it will be hard for the senator to justify staying in after another poor showing, especially in his home state.

The race is an even bigger blowout on the Democratic side, where Clinton leads by nearly 30 points in the ­RealClearPolitics (RCP) average. The racially diverse and older electorate should boost Clinton to an easy victory there.

The 214 pledged delegates up for grabs in Democratic race will be allocated proportionally.

Ohio

The Buckeye State will be the closest-watched state on both sides.

The Democratic race, where the 143 pledged delegates will be awarded proportionately, is much closer than it was only a few weeks ago.

Several polls released earlier this month found Clinton leading by 20 points or more. Her lead in the RCP average is presently at 8.3 points.

Ohio borders Michigan, where Sanders managed a huge upset only one week ago. He entered that race trailing by more than 20 points but stunned the political world with a victory no one saw coming.

The Sanders campaign believes his message on trade is resonating with Rust Belt voters. But Clinton is still the favorite in Ohio, where she’s had Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownBuilding back better by investing in workers and communities US on track to miss debt payments as soon as Oct. 19: analysis On The Money — Presented by NRHC — Democrats cross the debt ceiling Rubicon MORE (D-Ohio), a well-regarded progressive, campaigning on her behalf.

Sanders, however, won a big victory on Friday, when a judge ruled that 17-year-olds who turn 18 by the Nov. 8 general election are eligible to vote in the state’s primary.

On the Republican side, all 66 delegates will go to the first-place finisher.

Trump and Kasich are running neck and neck in the polls, with two recent surveys showing the candidates locked in a tie. Kasich leads in the RCP average by 3.2 points.

The Ohio governor has said he’ll drop out of the race if he loses at home. He has campaigned heavily in the state, and on Monday, he got a late assist on the trail from 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

But Trump is also making a late push, canceling a rally in Florida to spend the final hours before election day in the Buckeye State. If the celebrity businessman can squeeze out a victory here and couple it with a first-place finish in Florida, it will be a tremendous blow to the forces seeking to block him from the nomination.

Illinois

On the Democratic side, Clinton is once again looking over her shoulder at a fast-rising Sanders for the state’s 156 pledged delegates.

The former first lady’s once massive lead in Illinois has been reduced to only a couple of points in the RCP average, with one recent survey showing Sanders in the lead. This comes after one poll from early March found Clinton ahead by 42 points.

There appears to be energy on Sanders’s side. His supporters turned out in force to disrupt a massive Trump rally in Chicago on Friday night.

The Sanders campaign has sought to tie Clinton to embattled Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a former Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonBill Clinton on the mend after infection lands him in hospital Biden sends 'best wishes' to Clinton following hospitalization Appeals court allows Texas abortion law to stand MORE White House aide whose approval rating has fallen off a cliff in the wake of a scandal surrounding the police shooting of a young black man.

Clinton has declined to appear with Emanuel while campaigning in the state.

On the Republican side, Trump could start running up the score on his rivals in Illinois.

The statewide winner will take home 15 of the state’s 69 delegates, with the balance allocated by congressional district and heavily weighted in favor of the winner.

Trump leads by 9 points in the RCP average, with a Chicago Tribune survey showing he has broad support in districts across the state.

Still, Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOcasio-Cortez goes indoor skydiving for her birthday GOP rallies around Manchin, Sinema McConnell gets GOP wake-up call MORE is nipping at Trump’s heels in several polls. The Texas senator will need a strong showing to keep Trump from turning this hybrid state into a winner-take-all state, as happened in South Carolina.

Missouri

Polling is scarce in Missouri, with Sanders edging Clinton by 1 point in a survey released on Monday and trailing Clinton by 7 points in the only other poll conducted this month.

Both Democrats are campaigning heavily in the state, which awards 71 pledged delegates. Sanders is spending big on the airwaves and hoping the electorate will mirror that of neighboring Kansas, which the Vermont senator won by more than 30 points.

There has been only one poll conducted on the Republican side this month, with Trump leading Cruz by 7 points.

The state will award 12 of its 52 GOP delegates to the statewide winner. The rest are winner-take-all by congressional district, making it more likely that the statewide winner takes home a strong majority of all the delegates.

Cruz, who has made a late play for the state, could be the sleeper pick here. Missouri has a strong contingent of Christian conservatives and borders Kansas, where he ran away with the caucuses 10 days ago.

North Carolina

North Carolina’s is the only Republican contest that will award its delegates on a strictly proportional basis Tuesday, so all of the candidates should pick up at least a few delegates.

Still, Trump appears likely to register another resounding victory in a state with the second-most delegates up for grabs on Tuesday. According to the RCP average, he has 41 percent support, followed by Cruz, at 28 percent, Kasich, at 11 percent and Rubio, at 10 percent.

On the Democratic side, Clinton is the heavy favorite to win a majority of the party’s 107 pledged delegates. She has consistently registered above 50 percent in polls there and leads Sanders by an average of 24 points.