Trump, Biden dominate Super Tuesday contests as they march toward rematch

HUNTINGTON BEACH, California/PALM BEACH, Florida — President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump swept to victory in statewide nominating contests across the country on Tuesday, setting up a historic rematch in November’s general election despite low popularity ratings for both candidates.

Trump won the Republican votes in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, brushing aside former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, his lone remaining rival, whose campaign no longer has an viable path to the nomination.

With more than one-third of Republican delegates up for grabs across 15 states on Super Tuesday, Trump’s commanding performance all but clinched his third consecutive presidential nomination, though he will have to wait at least one or two more weeks to mathematically eliminate Haley.

Polls in several states remained open, with Alaska scheduled to wrap up the day at midnight EST (0500 GMT on Wednesday).

The incumbent Biden had been expected to sail through the Democratic contests, though activists opposed to his strong support of Israel urged Muslim Americans and progressives to cast “uncommitted” protest votes in Minnesota as they did before in Michigan.

The president easily won in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia, Edison projected. He also won a mail-in vote in Iowa that ended on Tuesday.

Another campaign between Trump, 77, and Biden, 81 – the first repeat U.S. presidential matchup since 1956 – is one few Americans seem to want. Opinion polls show both Biden and Trump have low approval ratings among voters.

Immigration and the economy are leading concerns for voters in both parties, Edison exit polls in California, North Carolina and Virginia showed. A majority of Republican voters in those states said they backed deporting illegal immigrants. Trump, who frequently denigrates migrants, has promised to mount the largest deportation effort in U.S. history if elected.

Katherine Meredith, a 65-year-old homemaker, voted for Trump in California’s Huntington Beach, which includes a significant Trump base despite California’s strong Democratic leanings.

“The border is a complete catastrophe,” Meredith said.

Trump, who has dominated the Republican campaign despite facing a litany of criminal charges, has won all but one of the contests so far, winnowing a sprawling Republican field of candidates down to two.

‘We’re going to win every state tonight’

Trump told Fox that his focus was on Biden, adding: “We’re going to win every state tonight.”

Trump’s advisers have said they expect him to formally secure the majority of Republican delegates no later than March 19, when two-thirds of the states will have voted.

He is scheduled to begin his first criminal trial six days later in New York, where he is charged with falsifying business records to conceal hush money payments to a porn star during his 2016 presidential run.

Biden said in an interview on Power 98 FM, a hip-hop and R&B radio station that serves Charlotte, North Carolina, that the elections were a chance to take on “the extreme division and violence the MAGA Republicans are pushing,” using the acronym for Trump’s Make America Great Again slogan.

Voters were also casting ballots in down-ticket races, including two contests in California to identify potential successors to the late Democratic U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and the recently deposed Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

In Arizona, independent U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema, a former Democrat, said she would not run for reelection, setting up a battle for her seat that could determine control of the closely divided Senate next year.

Pop megastar Taylor Swift encouraged her fans to vote in a post on Instagram, though she did not endorse specific candidates. Biden’s campaign is hopeful Swift will eventually back his candidacy, as she did in 2020.

Haley’s challenge has highlighted some of Trump’s potential general election vulnerabilities. She has reached 40% in some state contests and argues that shows independents and moderate Republicans harbor unease about a second Trump term.

About one-third of North Carolina voters said Trump would not be fit to serve as president if he was convicted of a crime, while in Virginia, 53% said he would be fit for the office if convicted.

In addition to the New York case, Trump faces separate federal and Georgia state charges for election interference, though it is unclear whether either case will reach trial before November’s election. He also faces federal charges for retaining classified documents after leaving office.

Trump has pleaded not guilty in all four criminal cases.

Biden faces his own weaknesses, including widespread concern about his age. He is already the oldest U.S. president in history. — Reuters

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