Rubio Loses Florida to Trump, Kasich Wins Ohio

Donald Trump beat out Marco Rubio in Florida, Rubio's home state, winning another 99 delegates. But John Kasich won in Ohio, where he's governor, keeping 66 delegates out of Trump's mitts. REUTERS/Chris Keane

Marco Rubio is finished.

The Florida senator announced he is suspending his campaign at around 8:30 p.m, after it became apparent that he had lost his own home state to Donald Trump, who called him "Little Marco." Because the Sunshine State is winner-take-all, the New York reality TV star will net all 99 of the state's delegates, while Rubio will receive none. This result was not unexpected but its size was. Rubio carried just one country in the state.

But all is not well in Trumpland. For Ted Cruz and John Kasich, the possibility of becoming the GOP nominee for president just became a bit more realistic. That's because, while neither man stands a chance of winning more delegates than Trump, either could become the nominee if Trump fails to amass more than half of the total number of delegates.

Per Republican party bylaws, Trump needs 1,237 delegates, or 51 percent of the total number of Republican delegates, in order to clinch his party's nomination. If Trump fails to get 1,237 delegates by the party's convention in Cleveland in July, he will face a so-called "brokered" convention. In this scenario, delegates previously pledged to Trump could be freed of their obligations to him and instead back whichever candidate they choose. For the ideologically conservative wing of the Republican party, this is Plan A. Plan B is to leave the Republican party.

In addition to Florida, March 15 saw Republicans in Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and the Northern Mariana Islands cast their votes. Trump lost Ohio to its governor, John Kasich. Without Ohio and its 66 winner-take-all delegates, Trump will need to win 60 percent of all delegates awarded after March 15 to clinch the nomination. So far, he hasn't been performing to that standard. According to The Washington Post, Trump has so far won 34 percent of all votes and 43 percent of all delegates, well shy of the 60 percent he would need.

And Marco Rubio's poor performance tonight could actually spell trouble for Trump. With Rubio dropping out, Trump will face only Cruz and Kasich. While Trump has consistently outperformed his opponents, the anti-Trump vote is substantial. Currently, Rubio, Cruz and Kasich are splitting that vote. But if Rubio drops out, only Cruz and Kasich will split it. In other words, the fewer opponents he faces, the worse for Trump.

But there are also factors working in Trump's favor. The Republican party allows states with primaries or caucuses on or after March 15 to award delegates on a winner-take-all basis, rather than proportionally. Florida and Ohio awarded their delegates this way. Of the remaining states, Arizona, Delaware, Nebraska, South Dakota, New Jersey and Montana also award their delegates winner-take-all. So, even if Trump doesn't win a majority of the votes in those states, he could come away with all of their delegates, making his path to 1,237 that much easier.