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Reality Check: Minnesota Matters In 2016 Caucuses

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Donald Trump's path to the GOP Presidential nomination is becoming much clearer.

Record voter turnout lifted Trump to a big win in Saturday's South Carolina primary. He beat Marco Rubio by 11 points. Ted Cruz was a very close third. Jeb Bush dropped out of the race.

The race now shifts to Nevada, where Republicans will caucus on Tuesday.

Democrats will make a reverse trip across the country. Hillary Clinton is hoping to follow up her victory in Nevada with another win in South Carolina. She beat Bernie Sanders by six points. But Sanders says he is on a roll and can defeat Donald Trump.

Despite the big races tomorrow, one White House hopeful will be in Minnesota rallying for support. Marco Rubio will speak with voters at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Minneapolis Tuesday afternoon.

The event is free, but you do need to pre-register. Rubio just picked up two local endorsements from former Senator Norm Coleman and former Governor Tim Pawlenty.

"I think he's going to bring forward the strongest voice, the strongest image and really the most thoughtful and informed strong view about how to move this country forward from a conservative perspective," Pawlenty said of Rubio.

A number of presidential candidates are focusing on Minnesota ahead of the state's caucuses, which are set for one week from Tuesday.

For the first time, Minnesota is joining many other states for the Super Tuesday contests. And suddenly, Minnesota matters.

Party leaders are expecting a 2008-type of turnout, the last time there was an open seat for President. About 214,066 Democrats showed up at the caucuses that year, compared to 62,828 Republicans.

That's only about 10 percent of total Minnesota voters, but it was a record turnout.

What's different in 2016: Minnesota's not flyover country in the Presidential campaigns. This year, it matters a lot more.

Minnesota is one of 12 states holding primaries or caucuses on Super Tuesday, March 1. It's the single biggest day on the 2016 primary election calendar, with about half of the delegates needed for the nomination up for grabs.

The Minnesota Caucuses start at 7 p.m. You don't need to be registered to vote, but you do need to be eligible to vote in November. And this isn't like a primary, where you quickly vote and leave.

Right away at 7 p.m. in both parties, there a straw poll for President. That could take an hour, and you can leave after that if you want.

But if you stay, there's organizing for different candidates and you could be elected a delegate. Getting elected a delegate is the first step to county and state conventions, and then the Republican or Democratic nominating conventions this summer.

Minnesota Democrats have 93 delegates at stake March 1. Republicans have 38 delegates.

With Minnesota being a part of Super Tuesday, that's why we're seeing the candidates ramping it up in our state. Democrats Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have both been in Minnesota in just the last 10 days and are spending a great deal of money to run television ads.

Ted Cruz was here in December, Marco Rubio on Tuesday. The big unknown: Donald Trump, has no apparent campaign organization in the state.

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