Florida, the biggest prize among the five states holding presidential primaries Tuesday, rewarded Donald Trump over its own senator, Marco Rubio, and gave Democrat Hillary Clinton a huge victory over Bernie Sanders.
Trump easily beat Rubio, claiming victory on Twitter well before all of the state's polls closed. He addressed supporters at Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach Tuesday night.
"Florida was so amazing," Trump said. "The fact is, we have to bring our party together. We have to bring it together. We have something happening that actually makes the Republican party probably the biggest political story anywhere in the world...Millions of people are coming in to vote. This was an example of it today."
Rubio waited until poll closing to concede and in the same speech dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination. As he congratulated Trump, his supporters booed loudly. Rubio responded, ``No! No! No!''
Rubio announced he was suspending his presidential campaign at a rally at Florida International University in Miami shortly after the results came in Tuesday night.
"While it is not God’s plan that I be president now or maybe ever, my campaign is suspended. I ask the American people not to give into the fear, do not give into the frustration," Rubio said.
Rubio thanked his supporters at the rally at Florida International University.
"There is nothing more you could have done. We all worked really hard," he said.
Trump, a New York businessman, ran strong among all income groups and was favored throughout Florida's diverse geography, drawing roughly even with Rubio on his South Florida home turf.
"To win in the states that we wanted and especially the margins– look, this is my second home, Florida. To win by that kind of number, it’s incredible," Trump said. "I want to congratulate Marco Rubio on having run a really tough campaign. He’s tough, he’s smart and he’s got a great future."
Democrats sided with Clinton in all areas of Florida, but Sanders got about almost three-fourths of the 18-29 age group and about half of voters who identified themselves as "very liberal." Clinton got two-thirds of women and more than three-quarters of the black vote.
"All of you today in the states that are holding contests you voted to breakdown the barriers that hold us all back. You voted for our tomorrow to be better than our yesterday….where everyone has a chance to live up to their potential," Clinton told supporters at a rally in West Palm Beach after her big wins Tuesday. “Our young people understand that they deserve a president that understands that when we invest in education we are investing in the future.”
Voters headed to the polls in South Florida earlier Tuesday to cast their ballots in the state's pivotal presidential primary.
If the campaign so far has been polarizing, chaotic and downright bizarre, voting in South Florida was mostly steady and boring, as it should be.
Polling locations opened at 7 a.m. with a few minor glitches reported in the state, though none affected anybody's ability to cast a ballot, state officials said. Florida is one of five states casting ballots Tuesday, joining Illinois, Missouri, Ohio and North Carolina.
The Sunshine State awarded 99 winner-take-all Republican delegates and 214 Democratic delegates were distributed proportionally. Floridians had already cast more than 2 million votes leading up to primary day.
The primary was crucial for Rubio's bid for the White House. Trump was leading in polls in the days before the vote.
While 14 Republicans were on the ballot, only Trump, Rubio, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich were still competing for the nomination.
Clinton was the heavy favorite over Sanders in polls leading up to Tuesday.
Florida polls closed at 7 p.m., but is split into two time zones, so early and absentee votes weren't released until 8 p.m. EDT. State officials said more than 1.2 million people cast absentee ballots and more than 869,000 cast ballots at early voting sites. Some of those, however, were independent and minor party voters who cast ballots in municipal elections.
The state has about 4.3 million Republicans and 4.6 million Democrats on active voter rolls. Another 3.2 million Floridians registered as independent or with minor parties can't vote in the primaries.
Earlier Tuesday, Florida election officials said Trump's name was not left off ballots in Jupiter despite a small number of voter complaints. Florida is a closed-primary state, which means only registered Republicans would get a ballot listing Trump and the other GOP candidates, officials said.
Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher said that independent voters can't vote in the primary. Bucher said Tuesday that some residents in Jupiter who were voting in municipal elections complained when they didn't see Trump's name on the ballot. Bucher said none of the other presidential candidates were listed on those ballots either.
"A lot of complaints from people saying my name is not on the ballot in various places in Florida," Trump wrote on Twitter Tuesday. "Hope this is false."
Florida's Secretary of State Ken Detzner sent out a statement reassuring voters that Trump had not been left off any presidential ballots.