Could Biden and Trump win their parties’ nominations this week? What to watch in the next contests

FILE - This combo image shows President Joe Biden, left, Jan. 5, 2024, and Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump, right, Jan. 19, 2024. (AP Photo, File)

FILE – This combo image shows President Joe Biden, left, Jan. 5, 2024, and Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump, right, Jan. 19, 2024. (AP Photo, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — President Joe Biden and his likely Republican challenger, Donald Trump, are on track to win enough delegates this week to become their parties’ presumptive nominees, ushering in a bruising eight-month campaign for the White House.

Elections in four states on Tuesday will likely give Biden and Trump the delegates they need to clinch the nominations. Their trajectories are hardly in doubt after dominant performances in last week’s Super Tuesday contests forced the last major primary challengers out of the race.

But for many voters who aren’t attuned to the daily twists and turns of the nation’s turbulent politics, this week could be a crystalizing moment, reinforcing that another Biden-Trump campaign is virtually guaranteed whether Americans want it or not. And that rematch — the first in a U.S. presidential election since 1956 — is poised to deepen searing political and cultural divides.

Here’s what we’re watching:

WILL TRUMP CLINCH?

Tuesday should be a wakeup call for those who still doubt that Trump, who is facing 91 felony counts in four criminal cases, will represent the Republican Party in the general election this fall.

The former president is on track to win enough delegates to become the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee — if he continues to dominate the way he has throughout the primary season. And with no major opposition on the ballot, there is every reason to believe he will.

As of Sunday, Trump was 140 delegates short of the 1,215 needed to win the Republican nomination at the party’s national convention this summer. There are 161 Republican delegates at stake on Tuesday in Georgia, Mississippi, Washington state and Hawaii.

With a strong showing on Tuesday, Trump can sweep all the delegates in Georgia, Mississippi and Washington state. Hawaii allocates delegates proportionally so other candidates could win a few, even with a small share of the vote.

WHAT ABOUT BIDEN?

Democrats who did not want Biden to run again are about to be disappointed.

Like Trump, Biden is on the verge of securing sufficient delegates to become the Democratic Party’s presumptive presidential nominee.

The president enters Tuesday 102 delegates short of the 1,968 needed to win the Democratic nomination. There are 254 Democratic delegates at stake Tuesday in Georgia, Mississippi and Washington state, in addition to party-run contests for the Northern Mariana Islands and Democrats Abroad that conclude that day.

With no major opponents, Biden is on pace to reach that mark. But he’s also facing continued resistance from his party’s left flank that threatens to tarnish the achievement.

A collection of progressive activists and faith leaders in Georgia and other states is encouraging Democratic primary participants not to vote for any presidential candidate. That’s after a protest “uncommitted” vote in Michigan recently secured two delegates.

The symbolic protest is meant as a warning on Biden’s reelection over his support for Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza.

While Biden’s campaign says it’s not worried, the president must unite his party behind him if he hopes to defeat Trump in November.

Following a fiery State of the Union address that he says fueled a jaw-dropping $10 million in donations in just 24 hours, Biden has an opportunity to build new momentum with a strong showing Tuesday.

GEORGIA PREVIEW

Georgia has emerged as one of the nation’s premier swing states in recent years. And both candidates are eager to put up a strong showing and flex their organizational muscle in what is effectively a dress rehearsal for November’s far more consequential general election.

The state was a pivotal battleground in 2020 — so close that Trump finds himself indicted here for his push to “find 11,780 votes” and overturn Biden’s victory.

Both candidates made Georgia a priority in the days leading up to Tuesday’s primary. But they offered very different messages in dueling rallies over the weekend.

Trump’s Saturday rally opened with a message asking attendees to support the people serving jail time for their roles in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. The former president then appeared with MAGA firebrand Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., whom he called “brave” for yelling at Biden during his State of the Union address. Trump also highlighted his private meeting the night before with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who has rolled back democracy in his country.

Biden, working to energize his coalition of voters of color, young people and suburbanites, pointed to Trump’s controversial associates and his embrace of the far right. “Our freedoms are literally on the ballot this November,” he said.

IS THIS RACE ABOUT TO CHANGE?

With both candidates poised to clinch their nominations, we are about to move formally from the primary to the general election phase of the 2024 election.

But it’s fair to say we don’t know exactly what that will look like.

Typically at this moment, candidates will shift their message to speak to a broader swath of voters — especially moderates and independents — that play a more influential role in general elections compared to the hardcore base voters that decide primaries.

But if this weekend was any indication, Trump is showing little interest — or ability — to embrace a more inclusive or moderate tone. He’s still falsely insisting that the 2020 election was stolen and praising those who stormed the Capitol on one of the darkest days in modern U.S. history.

We’ll be paying close attention to the tone of his official response — and his social media posts — after he clinches the nomination.

On the Democratic side, we’re about to learn whether Biden’s coalition changes its view of the race as the reality sets in that this election is now a binary choice between Biden and Trump. Biden’s campaign is betting big that’s the case.

On the eve of Tuesday’s primaries, the Democratic president unveiled a new campaign ad as part of a $30 million battleground-state investment casting himself as more effective than Trump — despite concerns about Biden’s age.

Trump won’t make it easy on Biden. A super PAC backing Trump released a new ad that asks, “If Biden wins, can he even survive till 2029?”

Buckle up. The next eight months could get bumpy.

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

AP Politics

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