Donald Trump has won the Florida primary.
With 72 percent of precincts reporting, Trump lead the Republican presidential pack with 45.5 percent of the vote. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is in second with 27.6 percent, followed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) (13.9 percent).
Trump’s Florida victory earns the New York billionaire all 99 of the state’s GOP delegates.
“This has been very exciting, this whole process,” Trump told supporters at a victory speech at his Mar-a-Lago golf club in Palm Beach, Florida.
Trump was largely expected to win the Sunshine State headed into Tuesday’s contest, with polls giving him an 18-point lead over all the next closest challenger, according to Real Clear Politics poll averages.
The outcome likely hits hardest for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, whose campaign momentum collapsed in the lead-up to the March 15 primaries.
Earlier on Tuesday, Trump won all nine delegates in the North Mariana Islands caucus. Including Florida, Trump has earned at least 568 delegates, according to the Associated Press’s count. Republican presidential candidates need 1,237 delegates to secure the party’s nomination.
Update 9:03pm CT, March 15: Added quote.
Photo via Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)