AP Decision Notes: What to expect in Super Tuesday’s presidential nominating

WASHINGTON (AP) — With contests in 16 states and American Samoa, the Super Tuesday primaries next week will be the largest day of voting of the year outside of the November election. Just how “super” it is may be a matter of perspective.

Both Democratic President Joe Biden and Republican front-runner Donald Trump hope to amass a string of lopsided victories that will help them move beyond the primaries and focus on their expected general election rematch. On the other hand, Nikki Haley faces a tough slate of contests mostly in the types of reliably Republican-voting states where she has struggled to win support or in states where party rules heavily favor the former president.

Super Tuesday has the largest delegate haul of any day in the primary calendar, representing more than one-third of the total delegates available in each party’s nomination process and more than 70% of the delegates needed to mathematically clinch either party’s nomination. Neither Trump nor Biden will be able to claim the title of “presumptive nominee” on Super Tuesday. The earliest that could happen is March 12 for Trump and March 19 for Biden.

Alabama, Arkansas, California, North Carolina and Texas will hold state primaries on Tuesday. Among the most notable down-ballot races is the one in California to succeed the late Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Vying to replace her are Democratic Reps. Barbara Lee, Katie Porter and Adam Schiff and Republican Steve Garvey, a former baseball star. Vote-counting in California is famously slow. It’s not unusual for only about half of the vote to be counted by the morning after the election.

Super Tuesday at a glance:


The Associated Press will declare winners in presidential and state primaries on Super Tuesday 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.

In the presidential contests, neither Biden nor Trump has suffered a defeat or even faced a close race in any nominating contest so far. For both, their narrowest margin came in New Hampshire, which Biden won by more than 40 percentage points as a write-in candidate and Trump’s margin over Haley, his former U.N. ambassador, exceeded 10 points.

In noncompetitive contests, the AP may in some cases be able to determine the winners relatively quickly based on the first vote returns of the night. Factors include the size of the lead in those initial returns, backed by an AP analysis of historical vote returns to determine how different those updates can be from final results.

Other factors include fundraising and ad spending, the type of contest and who is allowed to participate, the state’s voting history and political geography and, in some cases, publicly available early voting data showing how many pre-Election Day votes were cast and from what areas. Once the polls have closed, if initial vote results received from…

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