AP Decision Notes: What to expect in Georgia’s presidential primaries

This combination of photos taken in Columbia, S.C. shows former President Donald Trump, left, on Feb. 24, 2024, and President Joe Biden on Jan. 27, 2024. Biden and Trump each won the White House by razor-thin margins in key states. Now, with a rematch of their bitter 2020 campaign all but officially set after Super Tuesday, the two campaigns are unveiling their strategies for an unprecedented matchup between a president and his immediate predecessor. (AP Photo)

This combination of photos taken in Columbia, S.C. shows former President Donald Trump, left, on Feb. 24, 2024, and President Joe Biden on Jan. 27, 2024. Biden and Trump each won the White House by razor-thin margins in key states. Now, with a rematch of their bitter 2020 campaign all but officially set after Super Tuesday, the two campaigns are unveiling their strategies for an unprecedented matchup between a president and his immediate predecessor. (AP Photo)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Emerging from their near-clean sweeps of Super Tuesday contests, President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump head to Georgia, where they’ll campaign for votes in Tuesday’s presidential primary in a state that will play a pivotal role in deciding their fates in November.

For Trump, the day will likely have additional significance, as voters in Georgia and three other states may award him enough delegates to clinch the Republican nomination for president.

Aside from that, Georgia’s presidential primary will be largely anti-climactic. Trump’s main rival for the GOP nomination, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, suspended her campaign this week after a rout on Super Tuesday, when she won the Vermont primary but lost 14 other contests. Biden also will face fewer challengers in the primary after U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota ended his campaign, although neither Phillips nor self-help author Marianne Williamson has had much of an impact on primary and caucus vote totals so far this campaign.

On Saturday, Biden will hold a campaign event in Atlanta, while about 70 miles (112 kilometers) away, Trump will hold a rally in Rome in northwest Georgia. It’s the second time in a little over a week the two will hold dueling events in a state about to hold a primary while eyeing the general election campaign to come. Biden and Trump were in Texas on Feb. 29 ahead of its presidential primary to hold immigration-themed events along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Georgia is likely again to play a key role in the general election as it did in 2020, when Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry the state since Bill Clinton in 1992. Biden narrowly defeated Trump in Georgia by less than a quarter of a percentage point, a margin of 11,779 votes. Trump’s efforts to overturn those results are at the heart of an ongoing criminal case in Fulton County, although the judge is considering a motion to have District Attorney Fani Willis removed from the case. Trump’s actions in Georgia and other swing states also play a role in a federal prosecution of his attempt to stay in power after losing the 2020 election, but that case is on hold as the Supreme Court prepares to consider the Trump defense team’s argument that the former president is immune from prosecution.

Georgia is the biggest delegate prize and the only swing state among the contests taking place on Tuesday. Super Tuesday put both Biden and Trump on the brink of having enough delegates to clinch their parties’ presidential nominations. Tuesday is the earliest Trump could reach that milestone; for Biden, it’s March 19.

Here’s a look at what to expect on election night:

PRIMARY DAY

The Georgia presidential primary will be held Tuesday. Polls close at 7 p.m. ET.

WHAT’S ON THE BALLOT

The Associated Press will provide coverage for the Democratic and Republican presidential primaries. The candidates listed on the Democratic ballot are Biden, Phillips and Williamson. Besides Trump and Haley, the Republican ballot will list Florida businessman David Stuckenberg and former candidates Ryan Binkley, Doug Burgum, Chris Christie, Ron DeSantis, Asa Hutchinson, Perry Johnson, Vivek Ramaswamy and Tim Scott.

WHO CAN VOTE

Any registered voter may participate in either primary. Voters in Georgia do not register by party.

DELEGATE ALLOCATION RULES

There are 108 pledged Democratic delegates at stake in Georgia, and they’re awarded according to the national party’s standard rules. Twenty-three at-large delegates are allocated in proportion to the statewide vote, as are 14 PLEO delegates, or “party leaders and elected officials.” The state’s 14 congressional districts have a combined 71 delegates at stake, which are allocated in proportion to the vote results in each district. Candidates must receive at least 15% of the statewide vote to qualify for any statewide delegates, and 15% of the vote in a congressional district to qualify for delegates in that district.

Georgia has 59 Republican delegates at stake in the primary. The 14 at-large delegates are awarded in proportion to the statewide vote to candidates who receive at least 20%. A combined 42 delegates are at stake in the 14 congressional districts, with three delegates per district. The candidate who wins a majority of the vote in a district wins that district’s three delegates. If no candidate wins a vote majority in a district, the top vote-getter wins two delegates and the second-place finisher wins one. The state’s three Republican National Committee members, the state chair and the Republican National Committeeman and Committeewoman, are bound to the statewide winner.

DECISION NOTES

Unlike the general election, Tuesday’s primaries in Georgia are not likely to be competitive, as Biden and Trump face no major opposition in their campaigns for renomination. In both races, the first indications that Biden and Trump are winning statewide on a level consistent with the overwhelming margins seen in most other contests held so far this year may be sufficient to determine the statewide winners.

The AP does not make projections and will declare a winner only when it’s determined there is no scenario that would allow the trailing candidates to close the gap. If a race has not been called, the AP will continue to cover any newsworthy developments, such as candidate concessions or declarations of victory. In doing so, the AP will make clear that it has not yet declared a winner and explain why.

WHAT DO TURNOUT AND ADVANCE VOTE LOOK LIKE

Turnout in 2022 was about 11% of registered voters in the Democratic primaries for U.S. Senate and governor. It was 17% in the GOP U.S. Senate primary and 18% in the gubernatorial primary. There were nearly 8 million registered voters in Georgia as of Feb. 13.

As of Thursday, nearly 359,000 ballots had been cast before Election Day, about 66% in the Republican primary and about 34% in the Democratic primary. In 2022, pre-Election Day voting made up about 51% of the total vote in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary and about 41% in the GOP gubernatorial primary.

HOW LONG DOES VOTE-COUNTING USUALLY TAKE?

In the 2022 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, the AP first reported results at 7:22 p.m. ET, or 22 minutes after polls closed. The election night tabulation ended at 3:25 a.m. ET with about 98% of total votes counted.

ARE WE THERE YET?

As of Tuesday, there will be 125 days until the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, 160 days until the Democratic National Convention in Chicago and 238 until the November general election.

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Follow the AP’s coverage of the 2024 election at https://apnews.com/hub/election-2024.

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