Super Tuesday results: Trump pulls closer to GOP presidential nomination

Donald Trump won resounding primary victories in at least a dozen states on Tuesday, pulling closer to securing the Republican presidential nomination and catapulting more fully into a rematch with President Biden.

Trump led his last standing GOP rival, Nikki Haley, by large margins in most of the 15 states that held primaries or caucuses on “Super Tuesday,” with victories projected by the Associated Press from the Deep South to New England. He won delegate-rich Texas and California, led handily in more moderate Massachusetts, and was winning by well over 60 points in Oklahoma with almost all of the vote counted there Tuesday night.

But Haley, the former U.N. ambassador, notched a surprise victory in Vermont as she sought to demonstrate that many voters still want a Trump alternative. She was running almost 4 percentage points ahead of Trump with almost all of the vote counted. With her path to the GOP nomination effectively closed, barring some unforeseen event, Haley watched the election returns in private with her staff and did not say how she would proceed.

Campaign spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said in a statement late Tuesday night that many Republican primary voters are still “expressing deep concerns about Donald Trump” and that addressing those concerns “will make the Republican Party and America better.”

Trump entered his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., to cheers after many races had been called, mouthing “thank you” and giving a fist pump. “There’s never been anything so conclusive,” he told the crowd.

“We love you,” his supporters responded.

More than a third of the delegates who eventually will vote on the GOP’s candidate were up for grabs on Super Tuesday, putting Trump on track to win a majority of delegates by March 19 at the latest, according to his team’s projections. California was Tuesday’s biggest prize, and Trump was on pace early Wednesday morning to capture all 169 of its delegates by winning more than 50 percent of the vote.

On the Democratic side, Biden was quickly projected to notch decisive victories in almost every contest Tuesday but lost the territory of American Samoa, which backed a little-known entrepreneur. Down the ballot in California, Rep. Adam Schiff (D) successfully boxed out Rep. Katie Porter (D) in a tough fight to replace the late Dianne Feinstein in the Senate — advancing to November with a Republican rival whom Schiff himself had boosted in ads.

The presidential results offered some insight into each party’s feelings about their presumptive nominees — with limitations. Haley has pointed to her vote shares as evidence that Trump has real work to do to win over people he will need in the general election. But Republicans appear more enthusiastic about Trump than Democrats are about Biden in recent polls, even as Biden faces no serious competition in the primaries.

The vote also propelled the country closer to the official start of the contentious Trump-Biden rematch that has effectively been underway for much of this year. As the race ramps up, Trump and Biden are crossing paths more frequently; they recently held dueling events near the southern border in Texas and are on course to collide again on Saturday in Georgia, a top battleground state that holds its primary March 12.

“Tonight’s results leave the American people with a clear choice: Are we going to keep moving forward or will we allow Donald Trump to drag us backwards into the chaos, division, and darkness that defined his term in office?” Biden said in a statement Tuesday night.

Trump and Biden were both projected to win Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Biden was also victorious in Democrats’ primaries in Vermont and Utah. In American Samoa, which held only its Democratic caucuses on Tuesday, entrepreneur Jason Palmer pulled off an upset.

Trump’s victories intensified questions about Haley’s path forward, and she did not address the public on Tuesday night.

She has suggested she is no longer bound by a pledge to endorse the GOP nominee that the Republican National Committee required of all debate participants last year.

“Everybody’s saying if you don’t support Donald Trump you’re a Democrat,” Haley said Tuesday when pressed about the pledge on Fox News. “That’s terrible and that’s not unifying.” She noted that Trump never signed the RNC’s pledge — he skipped its debates — and said “that’s not a decision I have to make today” when asked if she would support him.

Haley’s allies have cast her as an avatar for a broader fight in the GOP — a leader of the lingering resistance to its transformation under Trump. Drawing support from more traditional conservatives, independents and even some Democrats, Haley grew increasingly critical of Trump and argued that he is alienating people who would otherwise join the GOP tent.

Haley’s strongest showing on Tuesday came in Vermont — a neighbor to New Hampshire, the early primary state where Haley campaigned most intensely, drew heavily on support from independents and won 43 percent of the vote in January.

Vermont has supported more moderate Republicans in the past, analysts noted, and its GOP primary is open to non-Republicans — a feature that also helped Haley in New Hampshire.

But Super Tuesday largely showcased how thoroughly Trump has won the argument in his party, rebounding from a point of political weakness when he launched his reelection campaign in fall 2022. Republicans rallied to Trump’s side as he accumulated 91 felony charges and are now largely poised to unite behind him, buoyed by polling showing Trump highly competitive with Biden and often leading.

Trump has reacted angrily to Haley’s decision to stay in the race but told Fox News on Tuesday that he wishes her well “even though there is no path forward for her.” At Mar-a-Lago later, Trump predicted that the GOP would “have unity” very quickly.

The focal points of the general election are already clear, with Biden seeking to overcome low approval ratings and widespread concerns about his age and Trump facing allegations of criminal misconduct and deep disapproval from many of the centrist voters who can swing tight races. Both candidates are hoping to benefit from the other’s unpopularity and will be fighting fiercely for people unhappy with their options.

Democrats are working to remind voters of Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election and pivotal role in ending the nationwide right to an abortion, while Republicans are hammering Biden’s handling of the U.S.-Mexico border and the economy. In exit polling in both North Carolina and Virginia, about 4 in 10 Republican primary voters said immigration was their top issue in deciding whom to support, followed by about a third who said the economy.

Exit polls also showed stark differences in Trump supporters’ and Haley supporters’ beliefs about the 2020 election. In Virginia, for instance, about 95 percent of those who believed Biden won illegitimately cast their ballot for Trump.

Tracking the GOP delegate count

Trump needs 1,215 delegates, or a simple majority, to secure the nomination. Texas had the most delegates up for grabs after California: 161. The other states voting were Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont and Virginia.

Tuesday’s most competitive races unfolded down the ballot.

In California — where the two candidates with the most primary votes advance to November regardless of party — Senate candidate Schiff moved on to the general election with a Republican, the former baseball player Steve Garvey. Schiff had run ads raising Garvey’s profile in a bid to box out Porter, a fellow Democrat, in the primary and face off in November against someone with virtually no chance of winning a deep-blue state.

Schiff and Garvey had both cracked 30 percent support early Wednesday morning with more than half of the vote still being counted; Porter trailed well behind at 17 percent.

Notable U.S. House races included the fight for California’s 22nd Congressional District, a Central Valley area that Biden won by 13 points in 2020. Rep. David G. Valadao (R) is a top target for Democrats seeking to retake control of the House, but Democratic challengers Rudy Salas and Melissa Hurtado were at risk of splitting their party’s vote so that Valadao advances to the general with another Republican. Valadao and Salas were in the lead early Wednesday morning.

Results in close California races may not be clear for days or weeks because of the state’s lengthy voting process, which relies heavily on mail ballots.

In Alabama’s 1st Congressional District, Republican Rep. Barry Moore beat Rep. Jerry L. Carl (R) in a faceoff precipitated by a federal court ruling that led to redistricting.

And national Republicans got their wish when retired Army Col. Laurie Buckhout defeated Sandy Smith in the GOP primary for North Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, a top battleground for November. The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC supporting Republicans’ efforts to hold the House, ran ads boosting Buckhout.

Voters in North Carolina also chose their nominees for one of this year’s most competitive races for governor. The state’s lieutenant governor Mark Robinson (R) was projected to advance to face state Attorney General Josh Stein, the projected Democratic nominee — despite forceful arguments from GOP rivals about Robinson’s liabilities in the general election.

In Texas, Rep. Colin Allred (D) beat state Sen. Roland Gutierrez (D) and several other candidates for the Democratic nomination to take on Sen. Ted Cruz (R), who is favored to hold his seat in November.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) was also seeking to unseat Republican state legislators who blocked his effort to enact a voucher program letting parents use public money to send their children to private schools. And Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) targeted fellow conservatives — including House Speaker Dade Phelan — who voted to impeach Paxton last year over allegations of corruption (Paxton was ultimately acquitted). Phelan advanced to a runoff with David Covey, the challenger endorsed by Paxton.

Biden could clinch the Democratic presidential nomination as early as March 19, according to calculations by the Associated Press. Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) and self-help author Marianne Williamson are still running against him but have not posed a serious electoral threat.

Democrats have been more nervous about organized efforts to vote “uncommitted” in their primaries in protest of the Biden administration’s handling of the Israel-Gaza war. In Michigan — a swing state with the country’s highest concentration of Arab Americans — more than 100,000 people, or 13 percent, of Democratic primary participants voted “uncommitted,” sparking debate about the implications for the general election.

Activists were pushing for similar protest votes in Super Tuesday states such as Minnesota, which is also home to a high number of Arab American voters. But those efforts have drawn far less attention than in Michigan, where even a small erosion in Democrats’ coalition could jeopardize their path to victory in November. “Uncommitted” made up 19 percent of the vote in Minnesota with about 90 percent of ballots counted.

Marianne Levine, Scott Clement, Meryl Kornfield, Mariana Alfaro, Sonia Vargas and Emily Guskin contributed to this report. Levine reported from Palm Beach, Fla.

correction

A previous version of this article suggested that the primary for Rep. Lauren Boebert’s bid to move seats to another Colorado district would be held Tuesday. Colorado held its presidential primary but not its House primaries, which are in June. The article has been corrected.


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