5 takeaways from Super Tuesday 

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a Super Tuesday election night party Tuesday, March 5, 2024, at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Biden and former President Trump dominated their primary races with relatively predictable results in more than a dozen states on Super Tuesday, as they hurtle toward the general election.

Biden largely swept the night’s Democratic contests — except for the caucuses in American Samoa, a U.S. territory, where he lost to a long-shot challenger.

On the GOP side, Trump easily extended his winning streak — except for Vermont, where rival Nikki Haley tripped him up to win her first state of the cycle.

The race seems all but set for a general election showdown between Trump and Biden, but Super Tuesday highlighted the presidential hopefuls’ strengths and weaknesses as November approaches.

Here are five takeaways from the night:

Front-runners win big 

The sitting president and former president dominated their parties’ respective party’s primaries, to no one’s surprise.

Trump swept the majority of Republican primary contests, moving him closer to clinching the party’s nomination. The former president kicked off the evening with wins in Virginia and North Carolina, followed by Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Texas and Tennessee. Delegate-rich California was perhaps Trump’s biggest win of the evening.

In a tempered address from his Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach, Fla., Trump called for GOP unity and notably avoided mentioning Haley.

“We have a great Republican Party with tremendous talent, and we want to have unity, and we’re going to have unity, and it’s going to happen very quickly,” Trump said.

Biden’s victories were evident early in the night, starting with the Iowa caucuses. The president went on to win Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont and Virginia. Like Trump, Biden’s biggest win of the night was in California, where more than 400 delegates were on the table.

But in one of the most surprising moments of the evening, little-known Democratic candidate Jason Palmer won American Samoa’s Democratic caucuses.

Biden took direct aim at Trump in a statement from his campaign following the results, saying his likely opponent is “driven by grievance and grift, focused on his own revenge and retribution, not the American people.”

But warning signs for both 

It’s not likely to be all smooth sailing for the incumbent and his predecessor going into what is expected to be a tense rematch in November.

For Biden, his biggest warning sign was in Minnesota, where an “uncommitted” ballot option in the Democratic primary neared 20 percent as of late Tuesday night, with just under 60 percent of votes reported.

The “uncommitted” push, which also appeared in Michigan’s primary last month, is the result of Democratic discontent with Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war. Organizers in Michigan led a campaign pushing Democratic voters to cast a protest vote and ultimately pulled in a notable 13 percent of the vote.

The effort’s success in Minnesota presents the Biden campaign with yet another warning that the war in the Middle East will have an impact, as some advocates look to replicate the effort in other states.

Warning signs for Trump could be seen in exit polling on Super Tuesday. While Trump won Virginia and North Carolina, exit polling from NBC News showed more than 30 percent of voters in both states saying they would not vote for the former president if he was convicted of a crime. Trump also appeared to struggle with college-educated voters in the two states, according to the same exit polling.

Haley gets her win 

Though Trump largely trounced Haley in the Tuesday night contests, Super Tuesday was not a complete and total wash for Haley. The former United Nations ambassador won her first state, Vermont, following her victory in the District of Columbia’s GOP primary Saturday.

However, it will not be enough to make Haley’s campaign competitive, with just 17 GOP delegates up for grabs in the state. At this point, Trump has 979 delegates on his path to the 1,215 needed to win the nomination. Haley has just 82.

It’s unclear what Haley’s path in the presidential contest looks like going forward. In a statement released late Tuesday, Haley’s campaign did not indicate her next move and seemingly criticized Trump’s call for unity in his victory address earlier in the evening.

“We’re honored to have received the support of millions of Americans across the country today, including in Vermont where Nikki became the first Republican woman to win two presidential primary contests,” said Oliva Perez-Cubas, national spokesperson for Haley’s campaign.

“Unity is not achieved by simply claiming ‘we’re united.’ Today, in state after state, there remains a large block of Republican primary voters who are expressing deep concerns about Donald Trump. That is not the unity our party needs for success. Addressing those voters’ concerns will make the Republican Party and America better.”

GOP primaries expose divisions within party 

The presidential race took the Super Tuesday spotlight, but several key congressional races were also in play — like the Senate race in California and a handful of House races in North Carolina.

Some Republican congressional primaries underscored divisions within the party.

In Texas, Rep. Tony Gonzales risks being forced into a runoff against Republican challenger Brandon Herrera. As of late Tuesday night, the incumbent was a few points short of the 50-plus percent threshold needed to clinch the win.

Gonzales was censured last year by the Texas GOP, citing his support of gun reform legislation after the mass shooting at an Uvalde, Texas, elementary school — while Herrera announced his bid with a critique against “Republicans who swore to defend gun rights … turned their back on these values.”   

In Arkansas, incumbent Rep. Steve Womack (R) was projected to survive a primary challenge from Republican state Sen. Clint Penzo.  

Though Womack had the backing of top Republicans in the state, including Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Penzo critiqued Womack as not conservative enough, calling him out for opposing Rep. Jim Jordan’s (R-Ohio) efforts to replace ex-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

Blow to progressives in California 

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.) was set to advance to the general election in California’s closely watched Senate race alongside Republican candidate Steve Garvey, boxing out two progressive lawmakers.

Reps. Katie Porter and Barbara Lee were also vying for the rare open Senate seat in the Golden State, but they came in short of the top slots in California’s nonpartisan primary, in which the two highest vote-getters advance regardless of party affiliation.

The state was plagued by notably low turnout that skewed older and whiter, which observers said likely boosted Garvey and Schiff over Porter, who appeared more popular among younger voters.

Schiff’s camp seemed to be pushing for a showdown with Garvey to avoid a messier blue-on-blue fight against Porter or Lee. In the days leading up to the primary, Porter underscored the warning signs, saying she and her famed whiteboard “could be out of Congress for good.”  

The race is now poised for a partisan fight between the Democratic lawmaker and the Republican former baseball star in the general election, but the Super Tuesday results mean both Porter and Lee — two prominent progressives from the blue stronghold state — are out of the House next year.

Schiff and Garvey are now sparring to win the seat left vacant by the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D), which is now held by temporary appointee Sen. Laphonza Butler (D).  

2024 Election

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