Sen. Marco Rubio declared himself out after losing in his home state of Florida. (AP)

12:39 a.m. PST:

With most of the results in, the Missouri races between Sanders and Clinton as well as Trump and Cruz still look too close to call. But Clinton’s been handed a very narrow victory in Illinois, while Trump got a win in the same state. Take a look at The New York Times’ chart below for the numbers, and click here for its interactive maps.

* * *8:12 p.m. PST:

Hillary Clinton, like Donald Trump, has claimed three out of the five states up for grabs Tuesday, and may prevail in tight races in the other two. As the Los Angeles Times noted, while that clearly isn’t great news for Bernie Sanders’ campaign, it’s far from in the bag:

After Tuesday, the math is [looking] increasingly daunting for her rival, who now would need a series of very big victories in big states to catch up with Clinton’s growing lead in the delegate race.

That does not, however, mean she has clinched the nomination. Under the Democrats’ rules, which allocate delegates proportionately to each candidate’s vote, Clinton probably would not be able to do that until the primary season ends in California in June.

In the Michigan upset last week, frustration among Midwestern Democrats with some of the free-trade policies Clinton has backed over the years, as well as with the Wall Street institutions whose recklessness helped push the nation into recession in 2007, emerged as a significant liability for the former secretary of State.

That anger shaped the campaigns in the three Midwestern states. Polls had indicated that all three could have close contests, and after the big miss by pollsters in Michigan, all of whom predicted a Clinton victory, both campaigns were wary of predictions.

Was it just not Marco Rubio’s time this time?

If the Republican establishment hasn’t done enough hand-wringing over the party’s future, here’s some more conjecturing courtesy of The New York Times:

After decades of pandering to intolerance while working against the needs of working-class Americans and minorities, the Republican Party appears headed for disaster. As its post-mortem report said, it didn’t have to be this way.

The question now is, what will the candidates beaten by Mr. Trump, like Mr. Rubio, do? Will they endorse the man they portrayed as a threat to the nation, or take a more principled stand? What are party leaders like Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chairman, prepared to do?

* * *6:16 p.m. PST:

Clinton has claimed victory in Ohio.

Speaking of Ohio, Politico reported that Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s campaign is gearing up for the long haul.

On a different yet related note, the Los Angeles Times wonders if CBS CEO Les Moonves and Donald Trump deep-sixed America’s democracy.

But wait—Trump’s not the de facto nominee just because Rubio has left the GOP circus tent. Newsweek explains:

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 [county] 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.

Let’s hope the GOP goes for brokered, then. Now, here are two tweets that speak to this moment in a chaotic election season:

* * *

How many more Super Tuesdays can there be? After this third go-round, the rally for the GOP nomination may be all but over as Trump closes in on a primary victory in Rubio’s native Florida, pushing the senator to the breaking point.

Having Mar-a-Lago as a Sunshine State campaign HQ must have come in handy for Trump, whose projected win in Florida scuppered Rubio’s chances of doing much else in this election cycle—except, maybe, going the way of Ben Carson and Chris Christie. There just might be room for Rubio, too, in Trump’s hypothetical administration.

Meanwhile, Clinton was heavily favored to add Florida and North Carolina to her list of big gets, but other Super Tuesday III returns didn’t yet add up to ready conclusions.

CNN delivered the bad news about Florida’s junior senator (beware the ides of March, indeed) as the polls in five states—Florida, Ohio, Illinois, North Carolina and Missouri—started to close:

Washington (CNN) 8:46 p.m. ET update: Ohio Gov. John Kasich has won the GOP presidential primary in his home state, according to a CNN projection.

[…] Marco Rubio is dropping out of the presidential race after losing the Florida primary to Donald Trump and failing to unite the Republican establishment against the billionaire front-runner.

“America is in the middle of a real political storm, a real tsunami and we should have seen this coming,” Rubio said in Miami Tuesday night in a speech that served as a thinly-veiled rebuke of Trump’s campaign tactics.

“While we are on the right side,” he said, “this year, we will not be on the winning side.”

Rubio’s decision to end his campaign comes on a night of crucial primaries in which Trump is striving to tighten his grip on the Republican nomination. The contests in Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Missouri and Illinois represent one of the last opportunities for the party’s establishment to mount a credible campaign to stop him and avoid a fight at the convention in July.

In the other big prize of the night—Ohio—John Kasich is the early leader, according to exit polls.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has won the North Carolina and Florida Democratic primaries.

And according to CBS’ primary tracker, Trump had a leg up on runner-up Ted Cruz in Illinois. Clinton was ahead of Sanders in Ohio but lagged behind the Vermont senator in Illinois.

We’ll be updating here all evening, once again.

—Posted by Kasia Anderson

Wait, before you go…

If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface. We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.

Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.

Support Truthdig