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The Next Big Things To Watch For In The Presidential Race

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Photo (Donald Trump): Matt Baron/BEI/Shutterstock.
Photo (Hillary Clinton): MediaPunch/REX/Shutterstock.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton emerged from this week's Super Tuesday balloting battle royale as the clear victors, but that doesn’t mean the contest is over.

There are still a slew of upcoming primaries and caucuses on the calendar, including nine this weekend and six more next Tuesday. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders is already outlining his plan to come back strong in upcoming primaries after Tuesday's heavy losses. And, as the GOP debate in Detroit showed Thursday night, Trump's rivals are continuing to hit him hard in hopes of derailing his march toward the nomination.

Regardless of how and when the race ends, there are clearly plenty more political fireworks to come. Here are four things to watch out for as the campaigns unfold.
The candidates will refine their campaigns to pinpoint where they have the advantage.
Just one day after losing seven states to rival Clinton, Sanders and his team were already attributing the defeat to demographics and bias in the states holding primaries. Sanders staffers Tad Devine and Jeff Weaver said in a press conference that the Super Tuesday states, many in the South, were simply ones that were already inclined to favor Clinton, The Washington Post reported. They suggested that Sanders’ wins would come later, in upcoming states like Kansas, Michigan, and Maine.

Marco Rubio and John Kasich are zeroing in on their election targets as well. Their respective home states, Florida and Ohio, are up for grabs on March 15. That home-state advantage worked for Sen. Ted Cruz, who won Texas, along with 99 delegates, on Tuesday night. Despite the fact that Cruz has only won four states to Trump’s 10, he’s only behind by 93 delegates. A decisive win in a delegate-rich state like New York or California could close the gap between him and frontrunner Trump.

March 15 could be a last gasp for Rubio or Kasich — or both. Rubio has won only one state, Minnesota, thus far. Kasich hasn’t won any. A dismal finish in the high-profile contests usually spells doom for campaigns. After the Iowa and New Hampshire votes, low-polling candidates Carly Fiorina and Chris Christie dropped out. Jeb Bush joined them on the sidelines after placing fourth in South Carolina. Most recently, the lack of any wins on Super Tuesday led to strong hints about the end of the Ben Carson campaign.

You’ll hear more about delegates, superdelegates, and how much everyone is spending.
Despite the masses feeling the Bern-mentum, Clinton holds an enviable edge over Sanders in the fight for the Democratic nomination. That's due to her lead among superdelegates, whose role Refinery29 demystified here. Take away the superdelegate count, and the Democratic numbers are much more even — Clinton has a lead of 168, rather than 600-plus. On the GOP side, Trump leads with 329 delegates — about 100 more than his closest rival.

Campaign spending is also taking center stage. Any viable alternative to Trump will need to earn big dollars to rival the self-funding billionaire's deep pockets. Both candidates and pundits will be giving more attention to where the money’s going, and what it’s doing.

Bush, who suspended his campaign on February 21, spent over $100 million before dropping out of the race. Carson, who is expected to end his bid for the presidency, has spent almost $70 million. Meanwhile Trump, with perhaps the most cash to throw around, has gone through less than half of what the Carson campaign has. Trump has, as of late February, spent only about $25 million, according to The New York Times.
The winning candidates will start looking more to the general election…
As the path to the nomination becomes increasingly clear, expect to see leading candidates change their strategy (and, occasionally, tune and tone on key issues).

As his campaign gains steam, Trump has been more open about stances that may be less popular with conservative voters, but could prove a useful middle ground in a general election. For example, Trump has repeatedly affirmed his belief that Planned Parenthood has done good work. “Planned Parenthood has done very good work for millions of women,” he said in his victory press conference after Tuesday night’s primaries, admitting it is not a popular conservative opinion. He has previously stated himself to be alternately pro-choice, pro-life, and in favor of defunding Planned Parenthood, according to The Washington Post.

In her Tuesday night speech, Clinton made a subtle challenge to her rival — on the other side of the aisle. “America never stopped being great. We have to make America whole,” she said, referencing Trump’s campaign motto, “Make America Great Again," and adding that the country seemed to have been “hollowed out.”
But the negative attacks they face are going to increase.
On the Republican side, Cruz and Rubio didn't even wait for the end of Super Tuesday to take the opportunity to discredit their opponent. Before polls closed in Alaska, the final state of the night, Rubio called the frontrunner a “con artist” as the crowd cheered. In his own speech, Cruz touted his primary victories over Trump, calling him a potential “disaster” for the Republican party.

Two days later, on March 3, two former Republican presidential candidates, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain, got in on the action as well. Romney called Trump a "phony" who was "playing the American public for suckers," according to the Associated Press. McCain referred to his statements as "uninformed and indeed dangerous."

The Republican debate later that evening, the first one since Trump's Super Tuesday victories, got dirty fast. Rubio and Cruz launched a combined attack on Trump, slinging personal insults about everything from "flexible" stances to implications about certain parts of Trump's anatomy.

Trump responded to the comments with disdain. “Look at those hands. Are they small hands? He referred to my hands — if they’re small, something else must be small,” he said. “I guarantee you, there’s no problem.”

Interested in keeping tabs on the action as the campaign unfolds? Follow Refinery29 News on Twitter and check back for results from the Democratic and Republican contests this weekend.
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