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After two months of primaries and caucuses, Biden, Trump clinch their nominations


After two months of primaries and caucuses, Biden, Trump clinch their nominations

Mar 13, 2024 | 3:33 pm ET
By Jacob Fischler
After two month of primaries and caucuses, Biden, Trump clinch their nominations
Democrats will officially nominate Joe Biden as their presidential pick at their national convention in Chicago from Aug. 19-22. Republicans will make Donald Trump their presidential nominee for the third straight cycle at their convention in Milwaukee July 15-18. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The rematch is set.

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump clinched their parties’ nominations for president by winning state primaries Tuesday, setting up the same choice voters saw in the 2020 election.

Both candidates are unpopular with the general electorate, but neither faced serious hurdles to their nominations in the states that have held presidential nominating contests.

Early polls of the November election show Trump with a slim lead at the national level and in key swing states.

Control of both chambers of Congress will also be at stake in November. Democrats face a disadvantage in defending their U.S. Senate majority, while House Republicans’ effort to keep their slim majority will hinge on a handful of key races.

Biden, who defeated Trump’s reelection attempt in 2020, won Democratic primaries in Georgia, Mississippi and Washington state on Tuesday, giving him 2,107 delegates. The Democratic National Committee rules required a candidate to secure 1,968 delegates to clinch the nomination.

Democrats will officially nominate Biden at their national convention in Chicago Aug. 19-22.

Trump swept Republican primaries and caucuses in Georgia, Hawaii, Mississippi and Washington on Tuesday, giving him 1,241 delegates so far. He needed 1,215 to clinch the nomination.

Republicans will make him their presidential nominee for the third straight cycle at their convention in Milwaukee July 15-18.

The candidates clinched nominations after only about half of the states held nominating contests. The process, which Republicans kicked off Jan. 15 with the Iowa caucuses and the Democrats started with their first official primary in South Carolina primary in February, is designed to take months, as only a few states generally hold contests in any given week.

To win in November, the candidates already are focused on a handful of swing states – Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – that will award 93 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House.

Biden: ‘Freedom and democracy are at risk’

In a statement on becoming the presumptive Democratic nominee, Biden harked back to his successful 2020 campaign against Trump. He reminded voters he considered the 2020 race “a battle for the soul of the nation.”

He said the country was “in the middle of a comeback” and framed the upcoming rematch with Trump as another crucial crossroads for the country’s democratic future, much as in his State of the Union speech.

“Amid this progress, we face a sobering reality: Freedom and democracy are at risk here at home in a way they have not been since the Civil War,” he said. “Donald Trump is running a campaign of resentment, revenge, and retribution that threatens the very idea of America.”

Biden, whose disapproval rating is 18 percentage points higher than his approval rating, according to an average compiled by FiveThirtyEight, will likely seek to make much of the race about Trump, whose net approval rating is also in the negative double-digits.

Trump issued his own statement on his social media platform, Truth Social, that celebrated a “UNITED and STRONG” Republican Party and blasted Biden for his handling of inflation and immigration and the Justice Department’s prosecutions of the former president.

“We are now, under Crooked Joe Biden, a Third World Nation, which uses the Injustice System to go after his political opponent, ME!” Trump wrote. “But fear not, we will not fail, we will take back our once great Country, put AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN – GREATER THAN EVER BEFORE.”

Trump’s choice for his next running mate will likely come in the weeks leading up to the July convention. Trump and his vice president, Mike Pence, had a public rift over Trump’s handling of the 2020 election loss and conduct leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Trump pressured Pence to reject the certification of the electoral votes, which Pence was not authorized to do, and took hours to intervene as a mob of his supporters, some chanting, “Hang Mike Pence,” caused mayhem at the Capitol.

Legal troubles no bar to GOP nomination

Trump faces felony charges in four cases, including two related to the Capitol attack, any of which on their own are  unprecedented for a major-party nominee.

But even together, the spate of legal troubles did not deter GOP voters who clearly backed him in early states. He led in polls in the months leading up to the first contests, then won a slim majority in a multi-candidate field in Iowa, forcing most of the other candidates to drop out.

In the second contest, New Hampshire’s primary, he won a head-to-head race that was considered the most favorable territory for his last rival, former United Nations Ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

After winning races in Nevada and Michigan, Trump also bested Haley by more than 20 percentage points in her home state on Feb. 24.

Haley won the March 3 primary in the District of Columbia, becoming the first woman to win a GOP presidential primary, and the Vermont primary two days later, on Super Tuesday, when 865 delegates were at stake in all those states.

She dropped out of the race after Super Tuesday but has not endorsed Trump.

Because Trump has a majority of delegates, the upcoming Republican presidential primaries in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kansas and Ohio next week will be formalities, though some states are also holding congressional primaries.

Biden coasts despite concern over Gaza

Biden easily won the Democratic kickoff state of South Carolina, which the party chose this cycle to replace Iowa as the first-in-the-nation contest, in part because of Biden’s strength with the state’s Black Democratic electorate.

More than 95% of Democrats in South Carolina backed Biden in the Feb. 3 contest and nearly 90% voted for him later that week in Nevada’s primary.

Neither U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota nor author Marianne Williamson bested Biden in any state.

But Muslim voters and progressives in the party sent a dissenting message, starting with the party’s third official race in Michigan in late February.

More than 100,000 Michigan Democrats, 13.2% of primary voters, selected “uncommitted” rather than vote for Biden or any of the other declared candidates. The protest vote that denied the incumbent two of the state’s 117 delegates was seen as a rebuke of Biden’s handling of Israel’s war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

A week later, on Super Tuesday, 18% of Minnesota Democrats selected “uncommitted,” reserving 11 of the 75 delegates at stake in the race.

The discontent with Biden did not meaningfully help Phillips’ long shot bid, and the moderate House member suspended his campaign after receiving less than 8% of the vote in his home state.

Phillips’ futility against Biden was clear from the first, unsanctioned Democratic primary in New Hampshire.

After the Granite State refused to give up its first-primary status even after the Democratic National Committee selected South Carolina for that position, Biden didn’t campaign or even appear on the ballot there but still managed 65% as a write-in candidate to Phillips’ 20%.

Control of Congress

To maintain their 51-49 edge in the U.S. Senate, including the three independent senators grouped with them for the purposes of organization, Democrats have virtually no margin for error.

Retiring West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin III’s seat is almost certain to flip to the state’s Republican Gov. Jim Justice.

Assuming the party change in West Virginia, Democrats would have to sweep the remaining competitive races, several of which are in Republican-leaning states. Virtually no Republican incumbents are considered at risk of losing their seats.

Inside Elections, an elections analysis site, considers Democratic Sens. Jon Tester of Montana and Sherrod Brown of Ohio toss-ups in their reelection races.

Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona is not pursuing reelection, and that state’s race between U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego, a Democrat, and Republican Kari Lake is also considered a toss-up.

Democratic Sens. Bob Casey in Pennsylvania and Jacky Rosen in Nevada are considered slight favorites in their reelection races, and Democrats are slightly favored to retain the Michigan seat now held by retiring Democrat Debbie Stabenow.

Neither party has as solid an advantage in the House, with various forecasters listing about 20 toss-up races that will determine control. Democrats would need a net gain of four seats to win back control of the chamber.