Super Tuesday: Trump and Biden near rematch after dominating state primaries

Source: BBC

Donald Trump vowed to cheering supporters that he would “take back our country” after dominating the Super Tuesday primary contests.

Speaking at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, Mr Trump declared that “this has been a day we’ve been waiting for” to a somewhat muted crowd.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden largely sailed through the Democratic nominating contests.

The results all but guarantees a repeat of the 2020 election.

Both men appear poised to frame the election as an existential test for the future of the country, as they head toward a rematch that will likely be just as heated as their last contest four years ago.

Polling indicates that many Americans do not want a choice between Mr Biden and Mr Trump again, yet that seems a forgone conclusion when Americans vote in November. 

Despite the lack of enthusiasm, both men swept nearly all of the contests they were involved in on Super Tuesday – a key US election day when voters in 15 states and one territory cast their ballots. 

Mr Trump is projected to win contests in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, according to the BBC’s US partner CBS.

Mr Biden was projected to win the same states plus Utah and Vermont. He also won the Iowa caucus, which announced its results on Tuesday.

As the two candidates racked up their wins on Super Tuesday, they characterised each other as threats to the US.

Mr Trump warned his supporters at Mar-a-Lago that if “we lose the election, we’re not going to have a country left”.

Just before Mr Trump spoke, Mr Biden released a statement that alleged his opponent was “driven by grievance and grift,” rather than by his concerns for the country.

“Tonight’s results leave the American people with a clear choice,” he said. “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?” he said.

Throughout his speech, however, Mr Trump sought to recast his tumultuous presidency through a nostalgic lens and invoked several tropes from his past campaign.

He continued to lean on the issue of immigration, which has been a driving issue for Republican voters in the early primaries. The former president referred to a wave of recent migrant crossings at the US southern border as an “invasion”, echoing the hardline rhetoric that buoyed his first campaign. 

Mr Trump also continued to share his view that the world would see fewer wars if he were president, and he pledged Americans would see economic improvements if he returned to office. 

Analysts are viewing the Super Tuesday primaries as a test of Mr Biden and Mr Trump’s support in different states and among different groups. It is also a test for the parties and their voters’ enthusiasm.

There were several other important takeaways on Tuesday night: 

  • The only remaining Republican challenger to Mr Trump, Nikki Haley, is projected to win the primary in the small northeast state of Vermont
  • Mr Biden faced his only defeat in the US territory of American Samoa, where he was bested in the caucuses by a long-shot – and largely unknown – challenger named Jason Palmer
  • In Minnesota, Mr Biden has encountered another rebuke from voters over his handling of Israel and Gaza after 20% of Democratic voters cast their ballots for “uncommitted”
  • North Carolina now has its top two candidates for a closely-watched gubernatorial race between Republican lieutenant governor Mark Robinson and Josh Stein, the attorney general and a Democrat
  • In California’s US Senate race, Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff and Republican Steve Garvey, a former baseball player, will advance to the general election
  • Meanwhile, in Texas’s US Senate race, Rep. Collin Allred – a former NFL football player – is projected to be the Democratic nominee to take on Republican Ted Cruz 

While the presidential race may seem like a forgone conclusion, the primary contests are key in securing a party’s nomination and makes Super Tuesday particularly important for the presidential election. 

By the end of Super Tuesday, Democrats and Republicans will have awarded about a third of the total delegate count that is available to presidential candidates through the entire nominating contest. 

The Trump campaign is well on its way now after Tuesday’s wins, and it is confident the former president will hit the delegate threshold later this month. 

Though Mr Biden and Mr Trump have all but locked up their parties’ nominations, political observers are watching whether either man faces significant defections from supporters on Super Tuesday. Thus far, Mr Biden has seen some Democratic voters back “uncommitted” on ballots, and it is conceivable that losing their support could threaten his re-election effort.

On the Republican side, many anti-Trump voters have coalesced behind Ms Haley, who served as the former president’s UN ambassador when he was in the White House.

She did not hold a campaign event after failing to gain huge traction on Tuesday night, but her campaign emphasised that her Republican supporters – who could prove key in a general election – continue to seek an alternative to Mr Trump.

“In state after state, there remains a large block of Republican primary voters who are expressing deep concerns about Donald Trump,” her campaign said in a statement Tuesday night. “That is not the unity our party needs for success. Addressing those voters’ concerns will make the Republican Party and America better.”

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