COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders planned a frenetic day of campaign rallies on Monday as he looked to score some wins in the Midwest and claim momentum in his uphill slog against Hillary Clinton.
The senator from Vermont was scheduled to hold rallies in four of the five states holding primaries Tuesday, including two events in delegate-rich Ohio.
Recent polling suggests Sanders's best shots to prevail Tuesday against Clinton are in Missouri and Illinois, and he has also been closing the gap in Ohio.
Florida, the biggest prize on Tuesday, and North Carolina pose more daunting challenges for Sanders.
The five contests come a week after Sanders’s surprise win in Michigan, a state that buoyed the Sanders campaign in a race where Clinton has built a sizable lead in the delegate count.
Florida -- the only state Sanders won't visit Monday -- is holding a closed Democratic primary, meaning independents, who have been drawn to Sanders elsewhere, aren't able to participate. Moreover, Florida is home to a large population of seniors, who have sided with Clinton by big margins in other states.
The latest Quinnipiac poll showed Clinton up in the Sunshine State by 26 percentage points.
The Sanders campaign is aiming for a far strong showing in North Carolina than in South Carolina, where Clinton trounced him last month. The state has some relatively liberal pockets and a manufacturing sector, including textiles, that has been hard hit by overseas trade.
Sanders drew more than 5,000 people to a rally in Raleigh on Friday, and he plans to touch down in Charlotte on Monday.
Aides are hopeful Sanders’s anti-trade pitch -- which propelled him to a surprise victory in Michigan last week -- will resonate in the Tar Heel state as well as in the industrial Midwest. Sanders has been hitting Clinton hard in those states for her past support of trade deals that he opposed.
The electorate in parts of Missouri resemble that in Kansas, where Sanders won big over Clinton in caucuses earlier this month. That has been a source of optimism for the campaign in state where limited polling has suggested a close race.
Sanders has also aggressively targeted Illinois, where he plans to end his day Monday with a 10:30 p.m. rally in Chicago. Beyond his attacks on Clinton, Sanders also hopes to make gains from the falling fortunes of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a Clinton ally who has hit an all-time low in job approval polls. The Sanders camp is hoping to attract voters, particularly African Americans, who are not happy with the mayor.
The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll had Clinton up in Illinois by 6 percentage points, while other surveys has suggested the race could be tighter.
In Ohio -- where Sanders has rallies scheduled in Youngstown and Akron on Monday -- a recent Quinnipiac poll had Clinton up by 5 points.