Story highlights

Rubio wins first 2016 contest

Clinton, Trump win seven states

Sanders wins four contests, Cruz victorious in three states

Washington CNN  — 

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton carved out dominant positions in their party nominating races on Super Tuesday, marching ever closer to a scorched-earth general election clash.

Trump swamped his rivals by piling up seven wins across the nation, demonstrating broad appeal for his anti-establishment movement. Clinton also had a strong night, winning seven states and showing her strength with minorities in the South.

Trump won across the conservative South in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia, but also captured more moderate Massachusetts and Vermont.

MORE: 6 takeaways from Super Tuesday

“This has been an amazing night,” Trump told reporters at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. He vowed to be a “unifier” and to go after Clinton with a singular focus once the GOP race eventually winds up.

But Trump’s GOP rivals vowed to fight on. Ted Cruz won his home state of Texas, the biggest single prize of the night, and added Oklahoma and Alaska. And Florida Sen. Marco Rubio finally landed his first win of the 2016 season in the Minnesota Republican caucuses.

Trump’s victories suggested that he did not pay a significant price for a controversy that flared in recent days over his initial failure to disavow David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader, during a CNN interview, and disputes over his business record and positions on immigration.

Time running out

And time is running out for the panicking Republican establishment to deny the billionaire the nomination, amid fears his brand of volatile anti-immigrant rhetoric could cost the party not just the White House, but the Senate.

CNN projects that Trump has so far won 233 delegates on Super Tuesday, well ahead of Cruz with 188 and Rubio with 90. That gives the billionaire a total of 315 delegates in the overall race, compared to 205 for Cruz and 106 for Rubio. A total of 1,237 delegates are required to win the Republican nomination.

MORE: Trump’s lead is tearing the Republicans apart

In the Democratic race, Clinton won seven states, building up a delegate cushion over her insurgent rival Bernie Sanders. She rode her support among African-American voters on a Southern sweep through Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, and added Massachusetts, a state Sanders had hoped to win.

“What a Super Tuesday,” Clinton declared at her victory rally in Florida, taking aim at Trump by asserting that America was already great, despite his campaign mantra, and vowing to make the country “whole again.”

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Sanders won his own state, Vermont, along with Colorado, Minnesota and Oklahoma. And though he failed to broaden his appeal in less liberal battlegrounds, he will now look to states in the industrial Midwest such as Michigan to inflict new blows on the former secretary of state.

But Sanders has yet to find an answer for a central question of the race: How can he win the nomination of the diverse Democratic Party without demonstrating an ability to challenge Clinton’s dominance of minority voters?

The Democratic race is guaranteed to go on for months, however, because the party’s system of proportionally awarding delegates means no candidate is yet close to reaching the magic number of 2,383 delegates to win the nomination.

MORE: Chris Christie steals Trump’s show

Clinton is projected so far to win 492 delegates on Super Tuesday, compared to 330 for Sanders. That gives Clinton a grand total of 1,055 delegates – including super delegates, who are leading party officials and lawmakers who have endorsed her campaign. Sanders has 418 delegates so far in the race. The figures are likely to be updated throughout the night.

Trump did not have it all his own way on the Republican side, following predictions he could have won as many as 10 of the 11 states up for grabs.

New life for Cruz