In coming days, Americans could have a much better sense of who will be this year's Republican and Democratic presidential nominees.
Democrats and Republicans are competing in primaries and caucuses in at least 11 states Tuesday, and, in most of those states, polls show Republican front-runner Donald Trump and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton with substantial leads.
The so-called "Super Tuesday" contests could give Trump a virtual glide path to the Republican nomination.
“People are so tired of these politicians – all talk, no action. We are going to make America great again. We are going to win, win, win,” Trump said.
Similarly, Clinton could emerge as the presumptive Democratic nominee. Her challenger, Senator Bernie Sanders, insists the battle is far from over and is sticking to his message.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton takes the stage to speak at Broadmoor Baptist Church in Memphis, Tenn., Feb. 28, 2016.
“The middle class of this country has been shrinking and almost all new income and wealth has been going to the top one-percent,” Sanders said.
Republican contenders, meanwhile, hope to halt, or at least slow, Trump’s momentum.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio hopes to capitalize on a strong debate performance last week.
“Donald Trump will never be the Republican nominee,” he said. “We are not going to let the conservative movement, and the party of Ronald Reagan and the party of Abraham Lincoln be taken over by a first-rate con artist.”
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.
“Rubio has won nothing. He could not get elected dog catcher in Florida, they hate him in Florida,” said Trump.
Ever a lightning rod for controversy, Trump is drawing sharp criticism from Democrats, too. Clinton's dominating victory in South Carolina’s Democratic primary allows her to pivot towards a general-election campaign message.
“We do not need to make America great again," she said. "America has never stopped being great. But we do need to make America whole again. Instead of building walls, we need to be tearing down barriers.”
Whether lauded, vilified or mocked, Trump continues to dominate headlines and consume an oversized portion of America’s political oxygen. Being at the center of the storm has served him well so far, and will be put to the test once again on Tuesday.