What’s the outlook for heated primary races in Florida, Ohio and Illinois?

Presidential contenders are preparing for primaries in five key states Tuesday, including make-or-break contests in Florida and Ohio that could radically alter the complexion of the race. For more on the contests in those states, Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff turn to John Yang in Ohio, Politico’s Matt Dixon in Florida and Amanda Vinicky of Illinois Public Radio and WUIS.

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    Voters got their say in five key states across the country today.

    For Ohio Governor John Kasich, today's home state outcome could determine whether his Republican campaign continues. And on the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders is angling for an upset.

    John Yang is at Kasich headquarters outside of Cleveland, and he joins us now with the latest.

    John, in Ohio, we're talking about 66 delegates on the Republican side, 143 Democratic delegates at stake. And yet it seems as if the Angela Rye that we have seen throughout this campaign is cutting across both parties.


    That's exactly right, Gwen.

    You know, we're in the field house at Baldwin Wallace University, and in another part of the building, there is voting going on. It's a polling place. I talked to some of the voters there, and some of the Democratic supporters of Bernie Sanders are expressing the same sorts of things you hear at Donald Trump rallies.

    They feel that the establishment has failed them. They aren't getting sort of the attention or the benefits that they want from the government. It's sort of the flip side of it. I talked, for instance, to 29-year-old Joe Dukonowski (ph). He is a software engineer. He told me he makes about $90,000 a year, but because he owes almost as much or actually a little bit more in student loans, he feels he can't buy a house.

    He has health insurance, but the deductible is so high, he feels he can't afford to get sick and go to a doctor. He says he's going to be paying off those student loans for so long that once the loans are paid off, he's going to have to start saving for retirement then. He feels that the system has not helped him.

    He says he feels he's too rich for the Democrats to worry about, too poor for the Republicans to worry about him. We heard much the same thing from Christine Hamlet, a young woman who went to college to be a teacher. Unable to find a teacher's job, she's working as an insurance agent. She says she wanted to be a teacher, can't find a job, and now she's going to be paying for it for the rest of her life.

    She voted for Bernie Sanders, too, but she was voting today because she didn't think she was going to be able to vote for him in November because she thinks the deck is stacked against him and that Hillary Clinton will get the nomination — Gwen.


    Briefly, John, do you see any sign of a stop Trump movement on the ground?


    There is some of that in some interesting ways.

    I talked — one of the voters I talked to was a lifelong Democrat who took a Republican ballot today for the first time in 42 years of voting. He said he's a Democrat, but he wanted to vote for John Kasich to try to stop Donald Trump. He said it's first time he ever asked for a Democratic ballot. I asked him how it felt.

    He said he felt his father spinning in his grave — Gwen.


    And you talked to John Kasich briefly today at the polling place. Do you have a sense that this is do or die, that he thinks it's do or die for him?


    Oh, he knows that if he doesn't pull it out today, it's all over for him. He talked about the pride he felt as a boy, as a young man, as a man from a small town in Pennsylvania voting for himself today for president.

    He also said that he is still proud of the fact that he ran this positive campaign, the bite you heard earlier. He knows he missed some opportunities for attention, but he does say that, if he goes on, he's going to be harsher and tougher on what he calls the very disturbing rhetoric of Donald Trump on minorities and on women — Gwen.


    John Yang doing great work out there for us, we will talk to you again.


    And Florida is a make-or-break moment for Senator Marco Rubio's campaign.

    Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is expected to continue her Southern sweep with a win the state.

    Joining us from Tallahassee is Matt Dixon. He's Florida bureau chief for Politico.

    So, Matt, first of all, the Republicans. Why does Donald Trump seem to be doing so well in Florida?

  • MATT DIXON, Politico:

    Well, I think the — sort of the feel that we have seen nationally in previous early states is absolutely showing up here in Florida.

    One of the — the sort of best numbers to exemplify that going into Election Day, about 1.1 million Republicans had voted by mail or early voting; 23 percent of those, nearly a quarter of that, had not voted in the past three elections or the past three primaries. So, the electorate is expanding.

    And folks who have not historically voted are voting in fairly large numbers here. And I think that speaks well for Trump and certainly to a lesser extent Senator Cruz.


    And just quickly, Matt, what do voters say to you about why Donald Trump?


    I feel the same sort of sentiment that we just heard from Ohio is very much evident here as well.

    There's large pockets of the state — South Florida, which is kind of a stronghold for Senator Rubio, might have a bit less of this, but in large sort of northern swathes of conservative North Florida, there's the same sort of sentiment. It's the anti-establishment stuff really bubbling over.

    The past few election cycles, we have kind of heard about it, this idea that the establishment or those who sort of run the political class are mad, but we hadn't seen it sort of personified at the polls the way we are this year.

    And, in Florida, that's certainly the case. Donald Trump has a very large lead. There's been a few outliers that have had him beating Marco Rubio by just seven or eight points. But those are outliers. He's had some pretty large leads in all recent polls, and a lot of the things that we have been hearing about for a while now.


    So, conversely, why home state boy Marco Rubio not doing any better than he is?


    Well, it's — I think he's kind of gotten caught up in the wave.

    To begin with, there was — before Senator Rubio got in, there were some people who didn't think this was his year. When Jeb Bush was running, there was a lot of people who were skeptical he was even going to get in and challenge him. And then, once he did, he's, I think, topped a lot of people's expectations.

    And it's just that he got caught up, like a lot of other folks, including Governor Bush did, in sort of this Trump anti-establishment wave. And he's got a few positive signs here, and he needs a good showing. One of the things going into Election Day, the Hispanic portion of the electorate here is voting 2 percent — 2 to 3 percent higher than it has in the past or has historically, which would be a good sign for Cuban-American-born — or Cuban-American Marco Rubio.

    But it's not going to be enough, more than likely. And if the electorate is doing what it looks like it's going to do in probably a record turnout, he might actually finish third place to Ted Cruz.




    He's going to have a difficult time certainly winning.

    And, right now, it's — he's going to be fighting for third, because it's looking to be record turnout here in Florida, which might not be a great sign for him, because it's a lot of new voters.


    And just very quickly — and we don't — we're out of time — but Hillary Clinton seems to be in pretty comfortable shape.

    And we are going to have to leave it there.

    Matt Dixon, reporting for us, thanks very much.


    Thank you.


    For both the Republican and the Democratic candidates, the stakes are especially high and uncertain in Illinois.

    For that, we turn to Amanda Vinicky, statehouse bureau chief for Illinois Public Radio and WUIS. She joins us from Chicago.

    We're talking about 69 GOP delegates up for stake in Illinois tonight. But there is so much uncertainty about what's happening there.


    Yes, there is a lot of uncertainty.

    So, you had early on Donald Trump ahead in the polls. Of course, we had that big Chicago rally. That wasn't necessarily an area where he was expected to do well when he was here in Chicago on Friday of last week. He was walking really into a hotbed of activism right there, but that, of course, doesn't seem to bother his supporters any.

    They love that he isn't concerned about P.C. And he did have a very well-attended rally about 150 miles to the south of Chicago in Bloomington just days later. The only problem there was that so many people attended, apparently, a local cemetery nearby became a parking lot.

    And that, of course, got some locals angry. Nonetheless, we have seen Ted Cruz rising in the polls here, and that's largely expected to be because down-state Illinois really is more that typical evangelist, God fearing, rural country. And it may be that they're turning there.

    Also, Illinois already has sort of swept into what Donald Trump is selling with our current governor, Bruce Rauner, who campaigned that he was a successful businessman who couldn't be bought and he self-funded his own campaign. But Illinois is in its ninth month without a budget, and that's really hurting down-state.

    So that may be also what is turning down-state voters toward Cruz instead of Donald Trump.


    Let's talk about the Democratic side, because we talked about how Marco Rubio's home state is Florida. John Kasich's home state is Ohio.

    And now we have Hillary Clinton's home state of Illinois, which people forget, but it's not — this is not a slam dunk for her.


    No. And it was largely expected to be. And early polls had that. She is a hometown girl, and she really does have most of the Illinois Democratic leaders, that power base of the Chicago, Cook County — quote, unquote — "machine" behind her.

    So, it would be huge for both those leaders, as well as, of course, for Hillary Clinton if she were to lose. She had her husband, Bill Clinton, working the polls in Chicago this morning. But also this morning, Bernie Sanders was at a very popular Chicago restaurant, and he's doing all he can to drum up support.


    Bernie Sanders, in addition to talking about trade a lot in these Midwestern states, Missouri as well, which votes tonight, has also been bringing attention to her ties to the mayor of Chicago, who is not as popular as he once was, to put it mildly.


    To put it mildly, you're right. This gets back to what I said, that kind of hotbed of activism that Donald Trump had walked into in Chicago.

    There are still a lot of angry, particularly progressives and liberals, about a video that showed Chicago police shooting 16 times a black teenager. And there is a belief that Mayor Emanuel glossed over that, and had that come out before his mayoral election, somebody who has been campaigning with Bernie Sanders — that's County Commission Chuy Garcia — that, well, we may have a different mayor of Chicago right now.

    So, yes, Bernie Sanders is doing all he can to bring Chuy Garcia out on the campaign trail with him, and that has led to a whole lot of applause at these Chicago rallies.


    Amanda Vinicky of Illinois Public Radio and WUIS, thank you.


    Thank you.

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