What to watch in Michigan, the big Midwest test

Voters in four states will deliver verdicts tonight on the presidential campaign

Donald Trump, left, and Hillary CLinton give their respective victory speeches on Super Tuesday. (AP)

Donald Trump, left, and Hillary Clinton give their respective victory speeches on Super Tuesday. (AP)

WASHINGTON — Michigan is the crown jewel Tuesday as voters in four states deliver verdicts on the presidential campaign. It’s the first big industrial state to vote, and it should offer clues about how the candidates will play in important Midwest contests to come.

What to watch for on Tuesday night:


The night’s first polls close in Mississippi at 8 p.m. EST (0100 GMT), with primary results for both parties. Michigan’s primary results for both parties follow at 9. Idaho’s Republican-only primary closes at 11 p.m., and Hawaii’s Republican caucuses close at 1 a.m. In all, there are 150 Republican delegates and 179 Democratic delegates at stake.


Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both are favoured. But keep an eye on the margins of victory: That’s what determines the allocation of delegates, which is key at this point in the campaign. Both front-runners are trying to increase their delegate leads to make their claims on the nomination seem inevitable.


The Michigan results may reveal how successful Bernie Sanders was in fighting back against Clinton’s criticism of him for opposing a 2009 bill that provided billions to rescue the auto industry. The Vermont senator is stressing that he opposed the provision because it was part of a large bailout package for Wall Street. He said he supported an earlier, separate bill to aid the carmakers.


Check out the post-election speeches by Clinton and Trump to see if they’re still focusing on their primary election opponents or pivoting toward an anticipated general-election matchup. In recent days, both have started to pay more attention to one another.


The exit polls from Michigan and Mississippi will offer clues about whether Sanders is making any progress in expanding support beyond his devoted followers in the under-30 crowd, and making any progress in the overwhelming support that Clinton has enjoyed with black voters. Without doing both, he’ll have a hard time catching up to Clinton in the delegate chase.


Marco Rubio, struggling to stay in the Republican game, has made recent campaign appearances in Idaho and Michigan. But his heart already is in Florida, where early voting is under way for the March 15 winner-take-all primary. With just two wins in 20 elections so far, the Florida senator has linked his survival to a victory at home.


With Rubio lagging, more Republicans may be looking to Cruz as a strong alternative to Trump. The Texas senator added last-minute appearances Monday in Mississippi and Michigan and has campaigned recently in Idaho. The vote margins should provide more clues about whether the anti-Trump crowd is coalescing around Cruz.


Here’s where the count stood heading into Tuesday’s voting: For the Democrats, Clinton 1,134 and Sanders 499, including superdelegates, with 2,383 delegates needed to win. For the Republicans, Trump 384, Cruz 300, Rubio 151 delegates and Kasich 37, with 1,237 delegates needed to win the Republican nomination.