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Nevada Finish Makes Ohio A Must-Win For Kasich

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Wikipedia Commons
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Ohio Gov John Kasich

In their efforts to derail Donald Trump from the Republican presidential nomination, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are all facing enormous pressure in their home state primaries, which account for about a fourth of the delegates up for grabs in the next three weeks.

Failure to defend their turf could leave each explaining what states they can win going forward — and make the New York billionaire look all the more inevitable.

After Trump's impressive win in Nevada, the presidential race now shifts to Super Tuesday, featuring 11 largely Southern states, including Texas, with 155 GOP delegates. Those delegates will be awarded proportionally. On March 15 will come primaries in Florida, with 99 delegates, and Ohio with 66, and they are winner take all.

If no one can dent Trump's advantage by then, the race for the nomination may be all but over. But home states have buoyed candidates in the past. Four years ago, eventual GOP nominee Mitt Romney used his native Michigan to quash a surprisingly stout challenge from Rick Santorum. Newt Gingrich won his home state of Georgia and neighboring South Carolina but did little elsewhere.

Of the trio with looming home-state primaries, Cruz may be in the strongest position. "I wanna say, I cannot wait to get home to the great state of Texas," Cruz said Tuesday night after losing in Nevada to Trump. "Tonight, I'll sleep in my bed for the first time in a month."

But Cruz will have to win more than just Texas on Tuesday if he doesn't want to be looking up at Trump in the delegate count.

Kasich and Rubio, meanwhile, may be battling for many of the same votes from traditional Republicans uneasy with the bombastic Trump and the firebrand conservative Cruz. As long as both remain in the race, they could continue to split the establishment bloc. And they'll have to run Tuesday's gauntlet before they can even reach must-wins at home.

The home-state jockeying is underway.