5 things to watch Tuesday as Biden, Trump look to seal their likely nominations

5 things to watch Tuesday as Biden, Trump look to seal their likely nominations

President Biden and former President Trump could be on track to win their party’s respective nominations as voters in a handful of states cast ballots Tuesday.

Georgia, Mississippi and Washington are all holding early nominating contests for both parties, while Hawaii is holding its GOP caucuses. Meanwhile, the U.S. territory of Northern Mariana Islands holds its Democratic contest.

Given Trump’s main primary rival Nikki Haley dropped out of the race last week, Trump has a clear path to the GOP nod, though Haley could still pick up delegates as a form of protest to Trump.

Here are five things to watch as Biden and Trump close in on the necessary number of delegates.

Will Trump become the presumptive nominee?

Trump appears on track to win the GOP nod Tuesday. He has 1,074 pledged delegates, according to Decision Desk HQ, out of the 1,215 needed to secure the nomination.

Georgia and Mississippi, whose polls close first at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. EST, respectively, have 99 GOP delegates up for grabs together. Washington and Hawaii’s polls will close later and have 62 delegates. Overall, 161 delegates will be up for grabs for Trump.

Because Haley has dropped out of the race, Trump has no real contest in the battle for securing the necessary number of delegates.

However, one thing to watch for will be whether the former U.N. ambassador continues to rack up delegates even after her exit, which could be seen as a protest vote against Trump.

What about Biden?

Biden could also be on course to win the Democratic Party’s nomination on Tuesday night. He currently had 1,855 delegates, according to a count from DDHQ.

Biden needs 1,968 delegates to clinch the nomination.

Georgia and Washington state have the largest share of delegates to award on the Democratic side, with 108 and 92, respectively. A total of 241 delegates are available for the president to earn, though anticipated protest votes against Biden and his handling of the Israel-Hamas war could eat into that delegate count.

But if Biden and Trump both lock up the number of delegates they need, the 2024 presidential primary race could be more or less finished by Tuesday night.

Do protest votes against Biden grow?

Democrats angry with the Biden administration’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war made their frustration clear during the Michigan Democratic primary, when 13 percent of primary voters cast a ballot for “uncommitted,” earning two delegates.

A similar scenario played out in Minnesota, where close to 19 percent of Democratic primary voters also cast ballots for “uncommitted,” earning 11 delegates.

All eyes now turn to Georgia and Washington, where parallel efforts are underway to voice their frustration to Biden about the war.

In Georgia, some Democrats are urging members of their party to leave the presidential choice blank. Such a move in the Peach State raises questions over whether that tactic could jeopardize Biden in the general election, given Georgia went for the president in 2020 by less than half a percentage point.

Meanwhile, in Washington, organizers are encouraging Democrats to cast an “uncommitted” vote in the primary. That initiative has been backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers 3000 — the largest labor union in Washington state — and American Federation of Teachers 1789 in Seattle.

Although Washington is not expected to flip red in November, both of those union endorsements are notable given Biden has described himself as a pro-union president. They also underscore the rift in support for Biden among union workers.

What do turnout and margins tell us?

Super Tuesday saw lower turnout in some of its states, including California and North Carolina — something experts believe has been driven by the fact the 2024 White House race hasn’t been competitive on either the Democratic or Republican side.

In North Carolina, 24 percent of votes were cast last week, compared to 31 percent during the primary in 2020.

California is still processing its ballots, though so far 4.8 million ballots were cast in the state with about 2.5 million left to count, according to data from the California Secretary of State office. Data from Political Data Intelligence notes about 22 million ballots were sent out, meaning primary turnout is expected to be around 33 percent.

If Georgia and Washington State also see low turnout, it could signal further lack of enthusiasm around the 2024 race.

Are there any more surprises?

Although much of the 2024 election has largely shaped up as expected with Biden and Trump all but certain to be their party’s respective nominees, the primaries have offered some surprises.

Last week, Biden lost the American Samoa Democratic caucuses to a long-shot Democratic contender named Jason Palmer — marking the first time Biden lost a Democratic nominating contest this cycle. In Minnesota, the “uncommitted” vote against Biden also gained more steam there than it did in Michigan, where the movement first originated and received extensive media coverage.

Now the questions loom of whether Biden might see another surprising upset in another U.S. territory like the Northern Mariana Islands, or whether Georgia and Washington underscore the staying power of the Biden protest vote.

Meanwhile, Trump has seen a few surprises of his own, including Haley winning the GOP nominating contests in Washington, D.C., and Vermont. Though Haley is out of the race, questions still remain over whether she will continue to pick up delegates against the former president.

Updated on March 12 at 7:24 a.m.

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