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The Facts From the Fiction: A Super Tuesday Compendium

Winners, losers, and warning signs.

Two presidents, one current, one former, competed for the souls of their respective parties on Super Tuesday, and as the results crystalized this morning, March 6, a snapshot of the next eight months came into focus. Joe Biden and Donald Trump dominated their primary races, all but ensuring a 2024 rematch. And yet, beyond the big wins, there were portents of possible electoral danger. Will either man heed the “here there be dragons” signs?

Trump’s Super Tuesday Showdown

Former President Trump won commanding victories in 12 of 13 state primaries and in both caucuses – losing just Vermont to Nikki Haley. Not all delegates have been assigned at the time of publishing, but based on projections, Mr. Trump has between 900 and 1,017; just a few hundred shy of the 1,215 needed to clinch the GOP presidential nomination. With big-ticket races coming on March 12 and 19, it is highly unlikely this contest will last beyond the month.

Wins: Of the primaries and caucuses won by Donald Trump, his average lead over Haley adds up to 45.8% in each locale. Speaking without a teleprompter, he said that his successful campaign would “unify this country and unify this party,” and that “We have a great Republican Party with tremendous talent, and we want to have unity, and we’re going to have unity and it’s gonna happen very quickly.” He also warned of the dangers facing the nation, saying:

“Our cities are being overrun with migrant crime, and that’s Biden migrant crime. But it’s a new category and it’s violent, where they’ll stand in the middle of the street and have fistfights with police officers. And if they did that in their countries from where they came, they’d be killed instantly. They wouldn’t do that. So, the world is laughing at us. The world is taking advantage of us.”

Trump veered off that track to highlight what he calls the weaponization of government agencies under Biden, declaring that “It happens in third world countries … And in some ways, we’re a third world country. We live in a third world country with no borders … We need a fair and free press. The press has not been fair, nor has it been free … The press used to police our country. Now nobody has confidence in them.”

Supporters of Donald Trump wait near Mar-A-Lago Trump Residence for the Super Tuesday resultsFLORIDA, UNITED STATES - MARCH 5: Supporter of Donald Trump, Binh Vo, hangs flags to his car as he waits near to the Mar-A-Lago Trump Residence for the Super Tuesday Results in Florida, United States on March 5, 2024. (Photo by Arturo Jimenez/Anadolu via Getty Images)

(Photo by Arturo Jimenez/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Losses: Haley managed to eat away at Trump’s overall support in a number of states. It seems clear that there is some appetite for a candidate other than he; not enough to deny him the nomination, but certainly a figure that could prove decisive in the November presidential contest.

Losing Vermont to Haley – while not entirely unexpected – could give her the impetus she needs to stay in the race, denying Trump the presumptive nominee status that would benefit him not only with fundraising but also his many tangled legal woes. It is one thing for the Department of Justice to prosecute a presidential hopeful, it is quite another to go after an official contender. However, Fox News reports this morning that according to its inside sources, an imminent departure may be in the cards for the former South Carolina governor.

Danger Zones: If Trump hopes to prevail and win a second term in the White House, he will need to shore up support from voters outside his natural base. Haley has done reasonably well with independent voters; repudiating them for their support of a candidate other than himself is a surefire way to lose their crucial November vote.

Biden’s Easy Street Campaign

The president handily won all the states competing in yesterday’s Super Tuesday contest. He has approximately 1,500 delegates in the bag, and is just 500 away from the requisite 1,968 – not that there was ever really any doubt.

Wins: Despite all the chatter that Biden is too old, or too cognitively challenged to serve a second term (from both sides of the aisle), no significant Democrat candidate stepped forward to try and take the crown. With the biggest day on the primary calendar done, any longshot candidacy is dead in the water.

Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) came close to admitting his challenge is effectively over in an X post, writing:

“Congratulations to Joe Biden, Uncommitted, Marianne Williamson, and Nikki Haley for demonstrating more appeal to Democratic Party loyalists than me.”

Losses: American Samoa delivered a surprising – but largely negligible – defeat for the incumbent, by little-known candidate Jason Palmer. The unincorporated territory does not provide electoral college votes but does have a handful of delegates to influence the primary contest. This may seem an inconsequential setback, however, it impacts the narrative of the Biden campaign going forward. Prior to the upset, Team Biden could have claimed a clean sweep.

Danger Signs: Of significant consequence was a strong showing for “uncommitted” on the primary ballot. This option was available in seven states – most importantly Minnesota, where almost 20% of Democrat voters chose to send a warning to President Biden. Last week, around 100,000 Michigan voters (13%) also joined this bandwagon to express their dissatisfaction with his handling of the war between Israel and Hamas.

New banner Liberty Nation Analysis 1Biden won Minnesota by seven points in 2020, so the state is considered safe Democrat territory. But it still poses a unique problem. If Joe Biden continues to support Israel, he could see small but significant pockets of pro-Palestinian discontent topple his electoral hopes. The 2020 election came down to a few tens of thousands of votes in a handful of states. While the uncommitted voters will not switch to Trump, they may not have the enthusiasm to campaign for Biden, or even vote for him in November. Apathy is an election killer and margins are what matter.

Haley Performs Both Better and Worse

The question on everyone’s lips today is whether Nikki Haley will stay in the race. As the totals rolled in, she was unusually tight-lipped, and not pursuing her now-trademark move of spinning a success out of a loss. Is she perhaps preparing to drop out with a dignified exit? It seems only her hairdresser knows, and perhaps insider sources at Fox. The outlet reports:

“The former two-term South Carolina governor who later served as U.N. ambassador in former President Donald Trump’s administration is expected to say Wednesday morning that she is suspending her campaign for the GOP nomination, but she is not immediately expected to endorse Trump.”

Wins: Nikki Haley managed to secure her first state primary – hot on the heels of her win in Washington, DC – by claiming Vermont. Along with Virginia, the Green Mountain State was Haley’s best shot at getting on the scoreboard as both states have open primaries in which voters can take part in whichever party’s primary they choose. Taking Vermont from Trump exposes a weakness on the former president’s left flank. It suggests that although he remains strong among committed GOP voters, pulling in independents – and even flipping some 2020 Democrats – could be an insurmountable hurdle.

Losses: Her success, however, almost certainly came courtesy of Democrat voters who will not be backing a Republican candidate in November. In the 2020 Democratic Party primary, more than 150,000 votes were cast; yesterday, there were just 63,000. For the GOP in 2020, just 38,000 primary ballots were cast; in 2016, that figure was roughly 55,000. Yesterday, there were more than 72,000 ballots. These figures suggest that Haley’s win had little to do with Republican support.

Danger Zones: Haley’s determination to take on Trump could result in her party losing the presidential election. Her attacks against her erstwhile GOP ally have been rather effective – so effective, in fact, that each barb has become a talking point for the Biden-friendly Fourth Estate and even the Biden 2024 campaign. If she pulls out of the race today, this would be another win for Trump and one that he will undoubtedly use to begin his presidential campaign in earnest.

A Two-Horse Race?

By any metric, Super Tuesday was a decisive win for Joe Biden and Donald Trump; they will – barring any unforeseen oddities – be refighting the 2020 election. But this time, they both have records to defend, and the state of the nation is a very different arena.

Other Republican and Democrat challengers will soon see the writing on the wall and shut down their respective campaigns, leaving only the third-party candidates ready to take on the top dogs; and they are not without teeth. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is polling an average of almost 13% nationally – and although he is only on the ballot in a couple of states so far, there’s a lot of chatter about him teaming up with the Libertarian Party. This could give him access to all 50 states.

Super Tuesday is over for another four years, but the reverberations will shape party politics for the next eight months. Trump and Biden will spend the intervening time sharpening their attacks and making their cases, but in the end, it’s the voters who will decide; and yesterday’s contest provided some unique clues as to who they will eventually support.

Read More From Mark Angelides

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