Trump: Consider myself 'presumptive nominee' after sweep

Donald Trump swept the five Republican primary contests, as his GOP rivals scrambled to stop him from securing the party's presidential nomination.

The businessman won majorities — rather than pluralities — all the contests on Tuesday: Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island, according to NBC News.

The results will make it tougher for Trump's competitors to limit his delegates and prevent him from winning the nomination outright, though Trump still may not reach the needed 1,237 before the party's convention in July. Pennsylvania was the night's biggest prize, with 71 delegates in total. However, only 17 of those are awarded by statewide vote, while 54 uncommitted delegates are elected.

Trump entered the contests with a 286 delegate lead over Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, according to NBC News. Coming into Tuesday, Cruz stood little chance of reaching a majority of pledged delegates, while Ohio Gov. John Kasich was mathematically eliminated from doing so.

"I consider myself the presumptive nominee, absolutely," Trump said from New York on Tuesday night, contending his competitors have "no path to victory."

An Amish buggy travels past the White Marsh Elementary School, which today is serving as a polling station, April 26, 2016 in Mechanicsville, Maryland.
Getty Images
An Amish buggy travels past the White Marsh Elementary School, which today is serving as a polling station, April 26, 2016 in Mechanicsville, Maryland.

The Cruz and Kasich campaigns on Sunday night announced they would coordinate to curb Trump's votes. Cruz will focus his campaign on next Tuesday's Indiana's primary, while Kasich will channel his efforts into Oregon and New Mexico. By holding back on campaigning in certain states, they hope to consolidate the non-Trump vote. The effort was met with some skepticism.

Speaking to supporters in Indiana on Tuesday night, Cruz shrugged off the losses and said the primaries would move to more "favorable terrain."

"The media is going to say 'the race is over.' ... But I've got good news for you. Tonight, this campaign moves back to favorable terrain," Cruz said.

Cruz and Kasich will need to pin their hopes on winning an open convention in Cleveland. Voters expressed their views on that prospect on Tuesday night.

Among Republican voters in the primaries, 69 percent said the candidate with the most votes, which would likely be Trump, should win in a contested convention, according to an early exit poll from NBC News.

Ninety-one percent of Trump supporters said the candidate with the most votes should win. As could be expected, only 41 percent of non-Trump supporters agreed.

Meanwhile, 63 percent of Tuesday's Kasich supporters said they will not vote for Trump if he is the party's nominee in November, compared with 41 percent of Cruz supporters.

Additionally, 77 percent of voters in Connecticut, Maryland and Pennsylvania said they voted for their candidate, not against an opponent, according to an early exit poll.

Trump cried foul on his rivals' move to cooperate, contending they are trying to "collude." The GOP front-runner has repeatedly complained about what he calls efforts by established politicians and party leadership to deny him the nomination.

Looking at the general election, Trump urged Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont to run as an independent should he lose Democratic nomination. This would sap votes from likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the general election.

Trump holds a rally Wednesday in Indiana, where he will be joined by University of Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight. An average of recent polls in the state shows Trump ahead by about 6 points, according to RealClearPolitics.