Trump, Biden Poised to Clinch Nominations in March 12 Primaries
Trump, Biden Poised to Clinch Nominations in March 12 Primaries

By Janice Hisle and Emel Akan

In primary elections on March 12, incumbent Democrat President Joe Biden and his Republican challenger, former President Donald Trump, appear likely to score enough delegates to become their respective party’s presidential nominees.

Pollster Rich Baris dubbed March 12 “mini Super Tuesday” because several states are holding presidential-preference contests. These primaries come a week after Super Tuesday, March 5, when both men scooped up hundreds of delegates across more than a dozen contests.

Ahead of the March 12 primary results, President Biden is 102 delegates shy of the Democratic Party’s 1,968-delegate minimum, so he needs less than half of the 254 Democrat delegates that are up for grabs.

President Trump needs 140 of the 161 available delegates to reach the Republican Party’s required count of 1,215 delegates.

Among the March 12 states, Georgia will be the biggest prize for both major candidates. The Peach State allocates 59 Republican delegates and 108 Democrat delegates, according to The Associated Press’ delegate tracker.  Two other states are also holding Republican and Democrat primaries: Mississippi (40 Republican delegates and 35 Democrat delegates) and Washington (43 Republican delegates and 72 Democrat delegates).

Additionally, Republicans are voting in Hawaii, which carries 19 delegates.

On the Democrat side, Democrats Abroad, an organization of U.S. citizens who live outside the United States, is treated as a state for the presidential nomination process. That group carries 13 delegates.

Voters in the Northern Mariana Islands carry 6 delegates. There, the president is facing off against Democrat Jason Palmer once again. With a surprise 91 votes cast in American Samoa on Super Tuesday, Mr. Palmer, a little-known presidential candidate, defeated President Biden unexpectedly, gaining 3 delegates. President Biden received the remaining 3 delegates in American Samoa.

That outcome in American Samoa was among a few signals that President Biden did not perform as well as would be expected for a typical incumbent president.

Despite the fact that President Trump faced well-funded intraparty opponents and President Biden did not, President Trump is poised to clinch the nomination before or at the same time as the incumbent.

As an incumbent, President Biden “should have run the table” and should not have divided the delegates in American Samoa, nor should he have lost delegates because of “uncommitted” votes cast as a protest against him, Mr. Baris told his “Inside the Numbers” podcast audience on March 11.

President Biden lost a total of 20 delegates because of those protest votes in Michigan, Hawaii, and Minnesota. But those numbers mattered little. On March 8, The Associated Press assigned all 224 delegates from Florida and 19 from Delaware to the sitting president. That was because neither of those states is holding a primary this year.

Mr. Baris wrote in a blog post that the White House “kept all other options off the ballots in those states, which triggered a rule regarding these states not being permitted to conduct uncontested primaries.”

Remaining Contests a Formality

Additional contests are set from now until early June, but those primaries have become formalities. President Trump and President Biden will be vying largely for bragging rights because they have both clinched their delegate counts and all major intraparty opponents have dropped out of the race.

After the primaries are over, each party must make its nominee choice for the Nov. 5 ballot official. Delegates will vote at the Republican National Convention, set for July 15 to 18 in Milwaukee; the Democrats’ convention is set for Aug. 19 to 22 in Chicago. Barring circumstances that could cause a brokered or contested convention, a Biden-Trump rematch is almost assured.

But they might face a multiway general election against one or more independent candidates vying for votes. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a vaccine-safety advocate and environmental lawyer, is among several independent candidates who are still actively pursuing the presidency.

Last week, the Biden campaign kicked off the general election season with a $30 million ad spend.

The campaign also announced that it had its “best fundraising day since launch” on March 7, the day President Biden delivered his third State of the Union address.

The president’s speech came amid mounting concerns about his age and mental fitness in a critical election year.

A New York Times/Siena College poll recently showed that President Biden’s age is increasingly worrying Americans, including those who supported him in 2020.

According to the poll, 61 percent of respondents believed President Biden was “just too old” to be an effective president. The poll was conducted two weeks after a special counsel raised concerns about his mental sharpness and characterized him in a report as a “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”

Another poll by Bloomberg News/Morning Consult found President Biden is trailing President Trump in a hypothetical general election in all swing states, including Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada, and Wisconsin. Many respondents expressed concerns about President Biden’s age.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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