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Why AP called Democratic Super Tuesday contests for Biden: Race calls explained

WASHINGTON (AP) —

The Associated Press was able to declare President Joe Biden the winner of a near clean sweep of Democratic Super Tuesday contents based largely on initial vote results that showed him winning about nine out of every 10 votes in almost every contest. The lone exception: American Samoa, where the local Democratic Party announced it had awarded half of its delegates to a little-known candidate.

Biden has now won 19 out of 20 contests and has more than quadrupled his total number of delegates. He is on track to win enough delegates to clinch the nomination by March 19.

Here's how Super Tuesday played out:

IOWA: Called for Biden, 5:50 p.m. EST

Biden's first win of the night was in Iowa’s first vote-by-mail Democratic presidential preference contest. The AP called the race for the president based on near-complete vote results provided by the Iowa Democratic Party showing him leading the field by more than a nine-to-one margin. Ballots postmarked by Tuesday will be accepted and counted until the vote is certified on March 16, but there will not be enough outstanding votes to sway the outcome. Iowa historically has kicked off the race for the White House for both parties, starting in 1972 for Democrats and 1976 for Republicans. But Iowa Democrats were ousted from their first-in-the-nation perch this in favor of South Carolina, which held the party’s first authorized 2024 presidential nominating contest on Feb. 3.

VIRGINIA: Called for Biden, 7:09 p.m. EST

Biden's second Super Tuesday win was in Virginia, where the first vote results of the night showed Biden winning almost all of the vote. Although less than 1% of the vote had been tabulated in the commonwealth, Biden had received more than nine out of 10 votes cast. The initial results showed him winning almost all the vote in the Richmond area, one of the largest Democratic strongholds in the state. He led by such a wide margin in places where the vote had been reported that the AP’s analysis of Virginia’s voting history and the political leanings in various areas showed there was no scenario that would allow a trailing candidate to take the lead.

VERMONT: Called for Biden, 7:20 p.m. EST

Biden was leading statewide in Vermont with about nine out of every 10 votes when AP declared him the winner. An estimated 2% of the vote had been tabulated by that point, and initial vote results showed Biden with commanding leads across the state’s political spectrum — from the state’s Democratic-leaning areas to Republican-leaning territory and the moderate swing areas in between. He also had a sizable lead in the state’s heavily Republican areas.

NORTH CAROLINA: Called for Biden, 7:39 p.m. EST

The AP declared Biden the winner less than 10 minutes after polls closed with a cross-section of vote results reported from about a quarter of the state’s 100 counties. He was the only named candidate listed on the ballot, and initial vote results showed him easily leading “No preference,” the only other option. Biden was winning about nine out of every 10 votes both statewide and in every major geographic region throughout the state.

TENNESSEE: Called for Biden, 8:09 p.m. EST

Biden had received almost all of the vote cast at the time the AP declared him the winner. Only about 1% of the expected total vote had been counted at that point from part of seven of the state's 95 counties, but an AP analysis of the state’s voting history found that Biden's sizable lead in the areas that had reported votes was highly likely to hold. The analysis also showed that even if later updates showed massive vote swings in another candidate's favor it would not be anywhere near enough to oust Biden from first place.

OKLAHOMA: Called for Biden, 8:16 p.m. EST

Biden also had an overwhelming lead in Oklahoma when the AP declared him the winner. A estimated 6% of the vote from parts of 65 of the state's 77 counties showed Biden winning eight out of every 10 votes statewide. He also had prohibitive leads in every major geographic region in the state.

MASSACHUSETTS: Called for Biden, 8:27 p.m. EST

At the time the race was called, Biden had about 10 times the vote received by his nearest competitor in the statewide vote — “No preference." Initial vote results from the Boston area — a decisive region in Democratic primaries — showed Biden winning there by about the same margin. He also led by comparable margins in all the geographic areas of the state that had reported by then.

MAINE: Called for Biden, 8:29 p.m. EST

Biden had won almost all of the vote in initial results reported at the time AP declared him the winner in Maine. An estimated 2% of the vote had been counted at the time from a handful of voting jurisdictions from both of the state's congressional districts. The AP analyzed where the votes had been reported at the time the winner was declared and compared them to places where votes had not yet been reported. The AP concluded that even if the trailing candidates had vastly improved their vote performance in areas where the vote had yet to be counted, they still would not be able to overtake Biden for the lead.

ARKANSAS: Called for Biden, 8:43 p.m. EST

Biden's lead in initial returns in Arkansas were large enough that, based on an analysis of the state's voting history and the political leanings of different areas, there was no scenario that would allow a trailing candidate to take the lead. Biden was winning nearly every vote in Pulaski County, home to Little Rock and an estimated quarter of the state’s Democratic primary voters.

ALABAMA: Called for Biden, 8:45 p.m. EST

Initial vote results at the time AP called Alabama for Biden showed him winning nine out of every 10 votes statewide. Biden was winning nearly all the votes reported at the time of the call, and led in every region of the state. He was doing best in the Birmingham area and in the southern part of the state.

TEXAS: Called for Biden, 9 p.m. EST

By the time the AP called Texas for Biden, polls in almost all of the state had been closed for an hour, and an estimated 43% of the vote had been counted from 102 of the state's 254 counties by the time the last polls closed at 9 p.m. EST. Those results showed Biden had built an insurmountable statewide lead, winning almost nine out of every 10 votes cast statewide and winning by equally big margins in almost every major region in the state.

COLORADO: Called for Biden, 9:04 p.m. EST

Biden was leading comfortably in every region of Colorado when the AP declared him the winner just four minutes after polls closed. By that time, an estimated 37% of the statewide vote had been counted from eight of the state’s 64 counties. In the Boulder area, which is home to an estimated fifth of the state’s Democratic primary voters, Biden had more than 10 times as many votes as the next-closest competitor, the “noncommitted delegate” option.

AMERICAN SAMOA: Called for Jason Palmer, 9:05 p.m. EST

The Democratic Party of American Samoa released results of its presidential caucus at 9:05 p.m. EST showing that Jason Palmer won the event with 51 votes, compared to 40 votes for Biden. A total of 91 votes were cast. At 12:25 a.m. EST, the party said that Palmer and Biden would receive three delegates each.

MINNESOTA: Called for Biden, 9:24 p.m. EST

Biden was declared the winner in Minnesota on the basis of initial vote results from parts of 13 counties from across most of the state. Biden was winning eight out of every 10 votes statewide at the time. The AP analyzed the state's vote history and determined that Biden’s sizable lead was highly likely to stand through the rest of the vote count. Biden had his largest lead in northern Minnesota when the race was called. He was significantly ahead of Dean Phillips, who has represented Minnesota’s 3rd Congressional District since 2019, in every county that reported results.

UTAH: Called for Biden, 10:05 p.m. EST

The AP based its call for Biden in Utah on initial returns that showed the president with an overwhelming statewide lead. An estimated 39% of the vote had been counted by that time from three of the Utah's 29 counties, including a sizable update from Salt Lake County, by far the state's most populous and home to about 60% of the expected Democratic electorate. Biden was winning about nine out of every 10 votes statewide and was winning by about the same margin in regions throughout the state.

CALIFORNIA: Called for Biden, 11:12 p.m. EST

Biden was declared the winner in California based on early vote results from key areas throughout the state. At the time the race was called, an estimated 6% of the vote had been tabulated from parts of eight of the state's 58 counties. Biden was winning more than nine out of 10 statewide votes and had comparable leads in most of the state's key geographic regions.