Trump and Clinton vie for north-east US

A file combo picture made available on 20 April 2016 shows US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (L) addressing the National Action Networks national convention in New York, New York, USA, on 13 April 2016; and US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (R) speaking at Trump Building in New York, New York, USA, on 03 November 2015.Image copyright

Voters in five north-eastern US states will cast ballots in a series of primaries that could cement the leads of presidential front-runners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Democrat Mrs Clinton and Republican Mr Trump hold sizeable leads in all five contests, according to recent polling.

Mr Trump’s rivals have already shifted focus away from the north-east.

Republicans Ted Cruz and John Kasich are pooling resources, courting voters in Indiana, Oregon and New Mexico.

This pact of allegiance between the two has been attacked by Mr Trump, a New York businessman, as a sign of weakness and desperation.

Analysis: Anthony Zurcher, BBC North America reporter

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After a setback in Wisconsin, the Trump campaign seems to be back on track

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are poised for a dominating showing in one of the last multi-state primary days of the 2016 presidential campaign.

Last week in New York the two front-runners reasserted themselves after a string of stumbles both at the ballot boxes and in the headlines. This week they could consolidate their position at the top – or more.

It’s hard to imagine a scenario where Democrat Clinton doesn’t have the nomination sewn up by Wednesday morning. She is in Philadelphia on Tuesday and might want to check out hotel suites near the site of July’s Democratic National Convention.

Republican Trump’s path to his party’s nomination remains more uncertain – but a strong result on Tuesday will edge him ever-closer to the magic 1,237 delegate mark and make wresting the prize from his grasp all the more difficult.

It looks like Mr Trump’s poor showing in Wisconsin three weeks ago was just a blip and not evidence of a campaign in decline. It proved that if the political stars aligned – united Republican opposition, a hostile local media and a string of missteps by the Trump team – the New Yorker is beatable. To the despair of the #NeverTrump forces, however, those circumstances may not appear again.

Read more on the US election

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Is Wall Street a problem for Hillary Clinton?

Ted Cruz, the Texan Tea Partier

John Kasich, the governor of positivity

What states are voting?

Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island will hold primaries on Tuesday.

In the Republican race, the candidates are focused on blocking Mr Trump from gaining 1,237 delegates and forcing a contested convention this July in Cleveland.

That would mean party delegates – Republican officials and activists – choose the nominee.

The hope of a contested convention is keeping Mr Kasich and Mr Cruz in the race. Both candidates have no chance of securing the nomination outright.

Meanwhile, Democrat Bernie Sanders is pushing hard for a win in Rhode Island, where Mrs Clinton’s lead is slimmer. He is also hoping for an upset in working-class Pennsylvania.

However, after Tuesday’s results, it is unlikely Mr Sanders will be able to overcome Mrs Clinton’s lead to become the Democratic nominee for president.

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Mrs Clinton is on the rebound after wining the New York primary

Why is Mrs Clinton favoured to win?

In a word, demographics. Mrs Clinton does best in races where the electorate is diverse, older or affluent. The north-eastern voters are all of those things.

With a large African-American population and one of the highest average household incomes in the country, Maryland represents a daunting challenge for the Sanders campaign.

Pennsylvania seemed like more fertile ground for Mr Sanders because it looks somewhat like Michigan, a blue-collar state that his campaign won. However, polls show Mr Sanders trailing badly even in Pennsylvania.

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Mr Trump is winning over voters but not fellow Republicans

What’s the deal with Pennsylvania’s Republican delegates?

It’s complicated. Pennsylvania awards its 71 delegates by a state-wide vote and by congressional district.

Heavily favoured to the win the popular vote, Mr Trump should easily gain the 17 state-wide delegates.

However, the 54 delegates awarded by congressional district are “unbound” or free to support the candidate of their choice regardless of the outcome of the popular vote.

Before the convention, Mr Cruz and Mr Kasich will be lobbying these delegates, hoping to gain their allegiance.

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Mr Cruz is campaigning heavily in Indiana

Is it finally over after Tuesday?

Yes and no. On the Democratic side, Mrs Clinton might have essentially wrapped up the race if she stretches her lead.

Mr Sanders will likely shift his focus from competing outright with Mrs Clinton to trying to push the Democratic Party platform further to the left. If he does well in coming primaries like California and New Jersey, he will have more leverage.

The Republican race is a lot more fluid. If Mr Trump performs as expected on Tuesday, the Stop Trump movement will make its final stand.

Mr Cruz and Mr Kasich are now co-ordinating their campaigns.

Mr Cruz has agreed to campaign in Indiana, where analysts see potential for a Cruz victory. Meanwhile, Mr Kasich will focus on Oregon and New Mexico – more moderate states where Mr Kasich could resonate.

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