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Biden and Trump are dominating Super Tuesday races and moving closer to a November rematch

By Associated Press
Published: March 5, 2024, 8:45pm
3 Photos
Robert Ward leaves the volunteer fire station after voting during a primary election, Tuesday, March 5, 2024, in Cusseta, Ala. Fifteen states and a U.S. territory hold their 2024 nominating contests on Super Tuesday.
Robert Ward leaves the volunteer fire station after voting during a primary election, Tuesday, March 5, 2024, in Cusseta, Ala. Fifteen states and a U.S. territory hold their 2024 nominating contests on Super Tuesday. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart) Photo Gallery

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden and his predecessor, Donald Trump, romped coast-to-coast on Super Tuesday, all but cementing a November rematch and increasing pressure on the former president’s last major rival, Nikki Haley, to leave the Republican race.

Biden and Trump each won California, Texas, Alabama, Colorado, Maine, Oklahoma, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Minnesota and Massachusetts. Biden also won the Democratic primaries in Utah, Vermont and Iowa.

Haley won Vermont, but the former president carried other states that might have been favorable to her such as Virginia and Maine — which have large swaths of moderate voters like those who have backed her in previous primaries.

Not enough states will have voted until later this month for Trump or Biden to formally become their parties’ presumptive nominees. But the primary’s biggest day made their rematch a near certainty. Both the 81-year-old Biden and the 77-year-old Trump continue to dominate their parties despite facing questions about age and neither having broad popularity across the general electorate.

The only contest Biden lost Tuesday was the Democratic caucus in American Samoa, a tiny U.S. territory in the South Pacific Ocean. Biden was defeated by previously unknown candidate Jason Palmer, 51 votes to 40.

Haley, who has argued both Biden and Trump are too old to return to the White House, was spending election night watching results in the Charleston, South Carolina, area, where she lives. Her campaign website doesn’t list any upcoming events. Still, her aides insisted that the mood at her watch party was “jubilant.”

Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, meanwhile, was packed for a victory party. Among those attending were staff and supporters, including the rapper Forgiato Blow and former North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn. The crowd erupted as Fox News, playing on screens around the ballroom, announced that the former president had won North Carolina’s GOP primary.

“They call it Super Tuesday for a reason,” Trump told a raucous crowd. He went on to attack Biden over the U.S.-Mexico border and the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Biden didn’t give a speech but instead issued a statement warning that Tuesday’s results had left Americans with a clear choice and touting his own accomplishments after beating Trump.

“If Donald Trump returns to the White House, all of this progress is at risk,” Biden said. “He is driven by grievance and grift, focused on his own revenge and retribution, not the American people.”

While much of the focus was on the presidential race, there were also important down-ballot contests. The governor’s race took shape in North Carolina, where Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson and Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein will face off in a state that both parties are fiercely contesting ahead of November.

In California, Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff advanced to the general election race to fill the Senate seat long held by Dianne Feinstein, with his opponent still to be determined. And in Los Angeles, a progressive prosecutor attempted to fend off an intense reelection challenge in a contest that could serve as a barometer of the politics of crime.

Despite Biden’s and Trump’s domination of their parties, polls make it clear that the broader electorate does not want this year’s general election to be identical to the 2020 race. A new AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll finds a majority of Americans don’t think either Biden or Trump has the necessary mental acuity for the job.

“Both of them failed, in my opinion, to unify this country,” said Brian Hadley, 66, of Raleigh, North Carolina.

The final days before Tuesday demonstrated the unique nature of this year’s campaign. Rather than barnstorming the states holding primaries, Biden and Trump held rival events last week along the U.S.-Mexico border, each seeking to gain an advantage in the increasingly fraught immigration debate.

After the Supreme Court ruled 9-0 on Monday to restore Trump to primary ballots following attempts to ban him for his role in helping spark the Capitol riot, Trump pointed to the 91 criminal counts against him to accuse Biden of weaponizing the courts.

“Fight your fight yourself,” Trump said. “Don’t use prosecutors and judges to go after your opponent.”

Biden delivers the State of the Union address Thursday, then will campaign in the key swing states of Pennsylvania and Georgia.

The former president has nonetheless already vanquished more than a dozen major Republican challengers and now faces only Haley, his former U.N. ambassador. She has maintained strong fundraising and notched her first primary victory over the weekend in Washington, D.C., a Democrat-run city with few registered Republicans. Trump scoffed that Haley had been “crowned queen of the swamp.”

“We can do better than two 80-year-old candidates for president,” Haley said at a rally Monday in the Houston suburbs.

Trump’s victories, however dominating, have shown vulnerabilities with influential voter blocs, especially in college towns like Hanover, New Hampshire, home to Dartmouth College, or Ann Arbor, where the University of Michigan is located, as well as areas with high concentrations of independents. That includes Minnesota, a state Trump did not carry in his otherwise overwhelming Super Tuesday performance in 2016.

Seth De Penning, a self-described conservative-leaning independent, voted Tuesday morning in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, for Haley, he said, because the GOP “needs a course correction.” De Penning, 40, called his choice a vote of conscience and said he has never voted for Trump because of concerns about his temperament and character.

Still, Haley winning any Super Tuesday contests would take an upset, and a Trump sweep would only intensify pressure on her to leave the race.

Biden has his own problems, including low approval ratings and polls suggesting that many Americans, even a majority of Democrats, don’t want to see the 81-year-old running again. The president’s easy Michigan primary win last week was spoiled slightly by an “uncommitted” campaign organized by activists who disapprove of the president’s handling of Israel’s war in Gaza.

Allies of the “uncommitted” movement pushed similar protest votes elsewhere, including Minnesota, which has a significant population of Muslims, including in its Somali American community. There, “uncommitted” garnered at least 38,000 votes Tuesday.

“Joe Biden has not done enough to earn my vote and not done enough to stop the war, stop the massacre,” said Sarah Alfaham of the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington.

Biden also is the oldest president ever and Republicans key on any verbal slip he makes. His aides insist that skeptical voters will come around once it is clear that either Trump or Biden will be elected again in November. Trump is now the same age Biden was during the 2020 campaign, and he has exacerbated questions about his own fitness with recent flubs, such as mistakenly suggesting he was running against Barack Obama, who left the White House in 2017.

“I would love to see the next generation move up and take leadership roles,” said Democrat Susan Steele, 71, who voted Tuesday for Biden in Portland, Maine.

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