Within hours, the results of Super Tuesday — the single biggest day of the presidential primary season — will begin to pour in. The stakes couldn't be higher — about 600 delegates for the Republicans and 865 pledged delegates for the Democrats up for grabs across a dozen states and one territory.
Past nominating contests and polls indicate that tonight isn't going to produce major surprises that upset the fundamental dynamics of the nomination race. The Republican and Democratic frontrunners, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, are poised to perform strongly across most the states voting on Tuesday, many of which are in the South.
• Your Guide for Watching the 2016 Super Tuesday Democratic Contests
• Your Guide for Watching the 2016 Super Tuesday Republican Contests
Tonight offers the possibility of clarity. It's less about whether Trump or Clinton will perform well, and more about whether their victories will be sweeping enough to make their challengers consider dropping out. Trump is expected to win every Republican state except for Texas, while Clinton is almost certain to capture at least seven of the 12 states and territories holding Democratic contests.
Check back here for live results throughout the night. All times are Eastern.
12:26 a.m.: We're going home.
Fun night! Thanks for reading. — Stefan Becket
12:17 a.m.: Sanders won four of the five states he targeted. His Super Tuesday was still a disaster.
Let's start with his loss in Massachusetts. While he outperformed Obama's 2008 showing there, Sanders' weakness in more multiethnic, less uniformly liberal states meant he needed to notch a resounding victory there. According to a demographic analysis conducted by statistics whiz Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight, Sanders ought to have won the commonwealth by about 11 percentage points.
But Sanders can afford to underperform a bit in states like Massachusetts if he makes up significant ground in states with heavy minority populations. There's one major problem: He's doing nothing of the sort.
Read more here. — Luke Brinker
12:00 a.m.: Trump wins Vermont.
Took him long enough! — Stefan Becket
11:34 p.m.: Clinton holds off Sanders in Massachusetts.
The Associated Press projects that Clinton has narrowly defeated Sanders in Massachusetts, in a major setback for the Sanders campaign. The senator's failure to win the left-leaning, overwhelmingly white state points to the steep challenge he'll face in defeating Clinton, particularly given her commanding support among voters in more multiethnic states.
11:23 p.m.: Sanders takes Minnesota for his fourth victory, per the AP.
Sanders has won four states so far tonight. Here's the breakdown:
11:20 p.m.: Sen. Lindsey Graham says the unthinkable: Coming together to support Cruz.
Earlier in the evening, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie stood loyally by Trump's side, driving home the reality that the Republican Party establishment has real incentives to embrace Trump as he continues to build an aura of invincibility.
For Republican politicians who refuse to budge for Trump, desperation seems to be kicking in. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who just last week joked that Cruz is so hated that none of his colleagues would be punished for killing him, has decided that Cruz may be the only weapon the GOP for halting Trump's march.
"Ted Cruz is not my favorite by any means, and I don't wish him ill — I was making a joke about Ted — but we may be in a position where we have to rally around Ted Cruz as the only way to stop Donald Trump," Graham said. "And I'm not so sure that would work."
Cruz has made enemies with most of the members of his own party and doesn't have particularly promising nomination prospects — outside of his home state of Texas, he's only won two nominating contests so far this primary season — but at this point, there appear to be no other paths. A lot of Republicans are looking at Cruz and saying this will do for now. — Zeeshan Aleem
11:15 p.m.: Rubio gets one!
Rubio did it! The AP called Minnesota for Rubio, giving him his first and likely only win of the night. — Stefan Becket
11:15 p.m.: Colorado goes for Sanders, giving him his third victory of the night.
The AP projects Sanders will win the Democratic caucuses in Colorado, defeating Clinton in the third state of the evening. Colorado was one of five states where Sanders was hoping to pull out a win — we're still awaiting a call in Massachusetts and Minnesota. — Stefan Becket
10:36 p.m.: Cruz speaks and calls on the party to unify against Trump.
"God bless the Lone Star State and God bless the state of Oklahoma," Cruz said at the start of a fiery address from his victory night headquarters in Stafford, Texas.
Cruz played up his status as the only Republican yet to beat the frontrunner in any 2016 contest — and openly appealed to his fellow candidates to drop out and unite behind him to stop Trump.
"Once again, we can have morning in America," Cruz finished, echoing the words of Republican icon Ronald Reagan.
"We have seen that our campaign is the only campaign that has beaten, that can beat and that will beat Donald Trump," he told the crowd.
"Republicans, together we have a choice. We are blessed with a deep, talented, honorable field," Cruz said. "For the candidates who have not yet won a state, who have not racked up significant delegates, I ask you to prayerfully consider our coming together, uniting."
As Cruz spoke, the AP called the state of Arkansas for Trump. — Celeste Katz
10:28 p.m.: Here are the races that haven't been called yet, per the AP:
Alaska Republicans: Caucuses end at midnight.
Colorado Democrats: Sanders 52%, Clinton 46%, with 5% of precincts reporting
Massachusetts Democrats: Clinton 51%, Sanders 48%, with 66% of precincts reporting
Minnesota Republicans: Rubio 37%, Cruz 27%, Trump 20%, with 10% of precincts reporting
Minnesota Democrats: Clinton 57%, Sanders 42%, with 1% of precincts reporting
Vermont Republicans: Trump 33%, Kasich 31%, Rubio 19% with 68% of precincts reporting
— Zeeshan Aleem
10:18 p.m.: Trump wins Arkansas, per the AP.
Here's the breakdown of who has won each state on the GOP side:
9:43 p.m.: Trump looks ahead to Florida — and November.
Trump and new backer Chris Christie appeared at a victory party in Palm Beach, Florida, a delegate-rich state where voters will go to the polls on March 15.
By the time he took the podium, Trump had already seen himself declared victor in five states, with wins for Cruz in Texas and Oklahoma.
Trump couldn't help rubbing it in a bit: "I know it was a very tough night for Marco Rubio — he spent a lot of money. He's a lightweight," the frontrunner said.
But Trump pivoted quickly to a serious mood when asked if he'd be a divisive force in the GOP.
"We've actually expanded the party," Trump said, pointing to record primary turnouts. "I am a unifier. Once we get all this finished, I'm going to go after one person — that's Hillary Clinton."
At the same time, Trump, taking press questions, refused to disavow his contention that Planned Parenthood — enemy No. 1 to many a GOP candidate — does valuable work in providing preventative health care for women.
Christie, introducing his pick for the White House, told listeners, "Tonight is the beginning of Donald Trump bringing the Republican Party together for a big victory this November... Our message is to begin to get ready for the fight that is coming this fall." — Celeste Katz
9:35 p.m.: Texas Republican voters remained loyal to Cruz.
Texas, which has been called for Cruz, is one of only two states that haven't gone for Trump. The exit polls suggest that the Texas senator was probably able to pull ahead due to a combination of home field advantage and a lead among religious voters, according to an ABC analysis of exit polls.
Voters who Trump would be expected to win — those who support a ban on Muslim immigration and deporting undocumented immigrants — were actually split between Cruz and Trump. Trump and Cruz also split Republican primary voters who backed the idea of building a wall along the Mexican border.
And Cruz edged out Trump among more religious crowds. "Nearly four in 10 voters in Texas said shared religious beliefs mattered a great deal in their choice, with Cruz pulling in four in 10 of them, vs. fewer than three in 10 for Trump," according to ABC. Cruz also beat Trump among evangelicals. — Zeeshan Aleem
9:27 p.m.: Cruz' victories in Texas and Oklahoma means he lives to fight another day.
The Lone Star State didn't forget its junior senator this Super Tuesday — giving Ted Cruz, in a political sense, the gift of life in his uphill fight for the GOP presidential nomination.
Cruz carried the day in his home state of Texas and also in Oklahoma in early, unofficial results.
Significantly, Cruz remains the only Republican presidential contender to have defeated frontrunner Donald Trump in any contest.
At the very beginning of the cycle, Cruz used a superior ground game and a direct appeal to Christian conservative voters to defeat Trump in the Iowa caucuses.
Read more here. — Celeste Katz
9:13 p.m.: Sanders defeats Clinton in Oklahoma.
Avoiding the humiliation of losing every state but Vermont, Sanders has prevailed over Clinton in Oklahoma, the Associated Press projects.
Though it's one of the most reliably Republican states in the country, the Sooner State also boasts a rich history of populist-oriented activism, making its Democratic electorate receptive to Sanders' message of combating income inequality. — Luke Brinker
9:08 p.m.: Here's the state of the race right now:
Alabama: Clinton, Trump
Arkansas: Clinton, too close to call
Georgia: Clinton, Trump
Massachusetts: Too close to call, Trump
Oklahoma: Too close to call, Cruz
Tennessee: Clinton, Trump
Texas: Clinton, Cruz
Vermont: Sanders, too close to call
Virginia: Clinton, Trump
— Stefan Becket
9:05 p.m.: Cruz also takes Oklahoma in an upset, per the AP.
9:00 p.m.: Cruz takes Texas, denying Trump a sweep.
The AP called Texas for Clinton and Cruz as Texas polls closed at 9 p.m., denying Trump a sweep for the night. — Stefan Becket
8:57 p.m.: A triumphant Clinton appealed to Sanders' supporters — and attacked the GOP.
Speaking from Miami, Florida, Clinton basked in the glow of her victories in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia.
"We're going to work for every vote," Clinton vowed, making clear that despite her commanding lead in the delegate count, she did not wish to evince an air of inevitability.
Echoing Sanders' populist pitch — and appealing to his supporters, whose strong support she'll need in a general election campaign — Clinton called for a more equitable society.
"This country belongs to all of us — not just those at the top," she said, adding "America is strong when we're all strong."
And looking ahead to the battle to come, Clinton depicted the GOP as a divisive force.
"The rhetoric we're hearing on the other side has never been lower," she said. "Trying to divide America between us and them is wrong, and we're not going to let it work." — Luke Brinker
8:53 p.m.: There it is: The AP calls Virginia for Trump.
Dashing Rubio's hopes of pulling off a surprise victory over Republican presidential frontrunner Trump, primary voters in Virginia narrowly backed the billionaire businessman over the Florida senator.
Though pre-primary polling had given Trump a wide lead over the GOP field, early exit polling showed Rubio within striking distance in the Old Dominion — raising the prospect that the establishment-oriented Republican would upset Trump to score his first-ever victory in a nominating contest.
But while Rubio trounced Trump in the affluent, highly educated Northern Virginia suburbs, it wasn't enough to overcome Trump's strength in more conservative and rural areas.
Read more here. — Luke Brinker
8:48 p.m.: Networks call Virginia for Trump.
Fox News called the race in Virginia for Trump, which would be a huge defeat for Rubio if results hold. They were followed by both NBC News and CNN. The Associated Press still hasn't called the race — Trump is holding onto a five-point lead with 75% of the votes counted. — Stefan Becket
8:30 p.m.: Polls in Arkansas just closed.
Per the Associated Press, Clinton is projected to win in Arkansas. That makes five states she's won so far tonight. The Republican race is too close to call.
The next round of polls close at the top of the hour. — Stefan Becket
8:19 p.m.: Here's who the AP projects to win in states where polls have already closed, in case you're just tuning in:
Alabama: Clinton, Trump
Georgia: Clinton, Trump
Massachusetts: Too close to call, Trump
Oklahoma: Too close to call, too close to call
Tennessee: Clinton, Trump
Vermont: Sanders, too close to call
Virginia: Clinton, too close to call
— Celeste Katz
8:08 p.m.: Close races in Oklahoma and Massachusetts are a silver lining for Sanders.
The Democratic contests in Oklahoma and Massachusetts were too close to call when polls closed at 8 p.m., giving Sanders hope that he can stave off Clinton in two states his campaign has targeted.
While Clinton's strength elsewhere means she can afford to lose the states — even by large margins — losses in the states would represent a significant blow for the Sanders campaign. That's particularly true in Massachusetts, a strongly progressive, largely white state. — Luke Brinker
8:06 p.m.: Rubio's best performance in the primaries so far? Inside the Beltway.
According to the Cook Political Report's Dave Wasserman, the Florida senator's most dominant performance in the primary season so far is happening in Virginia's inside-the-Beltway precincts, where he leads Trump 46% to 19%.
Rubio's core base appears to be about as establishment as they come. — Zeeshan Aleem
8:00 p.m.: Polls close in Alabama, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee and most of Texas.
The latest round of states just closed. The Associated Press projects victories for Clinton and Trump in Alabama and Massachusetts, and calls Massachusetts for Trump. — Stefan Becket
7:37 p.m.: Sanders declares victory in Vermont.
After winning his home state in a landslide, a buoyant Sanders told supporters in Essex Junction, Vermont, that it was "good to be home."
Expressing gratitude that "the people who know me best ... have voted so strongly to put me in the White House," the senator vowed to continue his fight against Clinton. But amid Clinton's resounding victories elsewhere, he also indicated that his campaign is as much about raising progressive issues like income inequality as it is about winning the presidency.
"This campaign is not just about electing a president," he said. "It is about transforming America." — Luke Brinker
7:35 p.m.: Exit polls show Democratic voters leaning toward the establishment.
ABC News' analysis of Democratic exit polls has some fascinating takeaways on voter trends across Super Tuesday states.
On race relations, more primary voters in Southern states think they've gotten worse than those who say they've gotten better — and more of them trust Clinton to manage that problem than Sanders.
A preference for establishment politicians seems to be emerging. At least seven in 10 Democratic primary voters prefer the next president to be someone with political experience instead of someone outside of the political establishment, according to ABC. While Sanders has a long history in the House of Representatives and Senate, it's fair to assume that those with a preference for establishment experience skew toward Clinton.
As far as voters' assessment of candidate honesty is concerned, Clinton is not faring well. In five states, more voters report that they find Sanders to be honest and trustworthy than say the same about Clinton. — Zeeshan Aleem
7:25 p.m.: The racial breakdown in Virginia exit polls spells trouble for Sanders in later Southern states.
In the same dynamic that powered Clinton to a landslide victory over Sanders in South Carolina, the former secretary of state crushed the Vermont senator among black voters in Virginia, winning 82% of their votes to Sanders' 18%, according to exit polling.
For Sanders, the numbers deal yet another blow to his campaign's hopes that he would make inroads with African-American voters as he better-acquainted himself with them. Instead, eight years after she lost them to Barack Obama, black voters are looking like a firmly committed Clinton constituency. — Luke Brinker
7:15 p.m.: Early results in Virginia are keeping hope alive for Rubio.
While polling showed Trump with a double-digit lead in Virginia, early results point to a tight race for first place between the businessman and Rubio, who seems to have benefited from a surge of late-deciding voters into his camp.
According to CNN, early exit polling shows Trump at 34% of the vote to Rubio's 31%, showing Florida within striking distance of a feat he's yet to achieve — an outright victory in a nominating contest.
Exit polling showed late-deciding voters breaking overwhelmingly for Rubio:
For Rubio, a win would offer vital momentum heading into Florida's winner-take-all primary on March 15, a must-win for the senator. Polling currently shows Trump leading in the Sunshine State. — Luke Brinker
7:00 p.m.: First polls have closed in Georgia, Virginia and Vermont.
According to the Associated Press, Clinton has won the Democratic contests in Georgia and Virginia, and Sanders has triumphed in Vermont. All three of these wins are unsurprising — Clinton is expected to sweep the South, riding on a wave of particularly strong support among black voters, and Vermont is Sanders' home state.
On the Republican side, the race in Virginia is too close to call between Trump and Rubio. In Vermont, it's too close between Trump and Kasich to make a projection. The AP projects Trump will win Georgia. — Zeeshan Aleem
6:45 p.m.: Exit polls show that 20% of Republican voters made up their mind recently.
According to a CNN analysis of early exit polls, about 20% of Republican primary voters in several states report that they decided who they were voting for recently. In the past few nominating contests, late deciders tend to drift toward establishment candidates instead of Trump.
But that pattern could change — in the past week, Trump has received the backing from some prominent members of the Republican establishment, including New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). In other words, Trump could be more appealing to recent deciders as he builds an aura of electability and inevitability. — Zeeshan Aleem
5:50 p.m.: Early exit polling suggests Trump and Clinton are poised to enjoy very good nights.
According to preliminary data analyzed by ABC News, about 60% of GOP primary voters back Trump's call for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S. — with up to three-quarters supporting the proposal in Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee.
Meanwhile, GOP voters back Trump's hardline immigration policies, with about 40% of voters in Texas, Georgia and Virginia supporting the deportation of undocumented immigrants.
A majority of Republican voters also preferred a political outsider to a candidate with political experience, indicating that Trump's anti-establishment appeal is resonating with the GOP electorate.
On the Democratic side, about half of the Democratic electorate in Georgia and Alabama is African-American, according to ABC, while black voters comprised a quarter of the Democratic turnout in Virginia. Clinton's overwhelming support among those voters should propel her to commanding victories in the South.
With whites making up the preponderance of Democratic voters in Massachusetts and Oklahoma, though, Sanders may manage to score wins in those states, which has campaign has targeted for momentum-building victories. — Luke Brinker
Correction: March 2, 2016
A previous version of this story said 12 states held Democratic contests on Super Tuesday. The count had included American Samoa, which is a U.S. territory; only 11 states held Democratic votes.