Washington: With three convincing wins, Republican Donald Trump regained his momentum, while an upset win by Democrat Bernie Sanders in Michigan delivered a sharp blow to Hillary Clinton's hopes of quickly clinching her party's nomination.
After a trio of victories on Tuesday night in Mississippi, Michigan and Hawaii in the face of party establishment's intensified efforts to derail him, the real estate mogul urged Republicans to unite behind his candidacy in the US presidential race.
"If we could embrace this moment as a party, we're going to win so easily," the billionaire businessman told CNN Wednesday morning.
Trump, who has collected 461 delegates, more than a third of 1237 needed to win the party nomination, said the record-breaking turnout his march to the Republican presidential nomination had produced is "absolutely unique and special".
"Something is happening that's amazing," he said. "We're getting millions and millions of people that have never voted before, millions of people from the Democrats, millions of people from the independents."
His closest rival Texas Senator Ted Cruz picked up Idaho Tuesday to take his wins to seven as against Trump's 15 in 24 nominating contests. He is more than 100 delegates behind with 360.
But establishment favourite Florida senator Marco Rubio, who has won just two states, had another bad night.
He finished fourth in both Michigan and Mississippi. Worse, he didn't get close to cracking the 15 percent needed in either state to add any delegates to his total of 154.
On the Democratic side, Sanders' stunning victory in the Michigan Democratic primary slowed Clinton's cruise towards nomination even as it did not drastically alter her delegate lead, as she won overwhelmingly in Mississippi.
Sanders told reporters in Florida that the results in Michigan were a repudiation of the opinion polls and pundits who had written off his chances in the state. Polls had shown Clinton with a double-digit lead going into the primary.
The win showed his political revolution was "strong in every part of the country. Frankly, we believe our strongest areas are yet to come," he said.
"We lost last night," acknowledged Clinton in an email to supporters asking them to "chip in $1 to the March Victory Fund".
"The next six days are absolutely critical for our campaign," she wrote. "Ohio, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, and North Carolina head to the polls on Tuesday, and we've got to make a strong showing to take back the momentum in this race."
Meanwhile, a new poll showed Trump leading two of his Republican presidential rivals in their home states, topping Rubio in Florida and Governor John Kasich in Ohio, while Clinton is far ahead of Sanders in both states.
In Ohio, Trump holds 41 percent to Kasich's 35 percent, with Cruz in third at 15 percent and Rubio in fourth with 7 percent, according to the new CNN/ORC polls.
And in Florida, Trump holds 40 percent to Rubio's 24 percent, with Cruz at 19 percent and Kasich at 5 percent.
Clinton leads Sanders 63 to 33 percent in Ohio and 61 percent to 34 percent in Florida.
The results come less than a week from the Super Tuesday March 15 contests in Florida and Ohio, as well as Illinois, North Carolina and Missouri.
The primaries in 99-delegate Florida and 66-delegate Ohio are particularly critical for Republicans, since both are winner-take-all.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)