Takeaways from the Super Tuesday primaries

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - WASHINGTON, March 6 — After 15 states and one US territory cast votes yesterday, Republican frontrunner Donald likely will stand on the cusp of sealing the Republican presidential nomination. His last remaining rival, Nikki Haley, will be searching for some rationale to continue her increasingly implausible bid.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden continued to pick up delegates on the Democratic side as he eased toward the November general election.

Here are some early takeaways from Super Tuesday as voters were still heading to the polls across the country:

Mirror moment

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At some point soon, Haley is going to have to make a decision about pressing forward. Tuesday’s results were not offering much encouragement, with Trump on track to win most of the states up for grabs.

More crucial for Haley, exit polls conducted by Edison Research showed little sign her support was growing, particularly among dyed-in-the wool Republicans. Instead, voters were increasingly lining up behind Trump as the nominee.

Even in a state such as Virginia, where Haley drew strong support from independents, moderates, college graduates and young voters, Trump was on course to defeat her by 30 percentage points.

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The news was worse for her in North Carolina, where she held two events over the weekend. Trump beat Haley among her core segments: independents (49 per cent-45 per cent) and college-educated voters (51 per cent-45 per cent).

Among voters who said they do not consider themselves part of Trump’s far-right Make America Great Again movement, Haley barely edged Trump in North Carolina, 50 per cent-45 per cent. She solidly lost those voters in California to Trump, 60 per cent to 36 per cent.

And although Haley’s supporters typically hail from the suburbs, Trump showed strength in those areas as well.

In the three states sampled by Edison, Haley won only the region of northern Virginia, packed with moderates and government workers. She lost every other region of Virginia, including the Richmond area, and every region of North Carolina, including the Raleigh and Charlotte areas. She wasn’t competitive in any part of California sampled.

All of the numbers point to a candidate with limited appeal — and whose time may have run out.

Getting on board

At the same time, Republican voters seem to be growing more comfortable with the idea that their nominee could be convicted of a felony.

According to exit polls conducted by Edison, fewer than one-quarter — 23 per cent — of those who voted in the California primary believe Trump would be unfit to serve as president if convicted of a crime.

The electorate that votes in the California primary skews conservative, as the state allows only registered Republicans to vote. But that 23 per cent figure is far lower than the tallies in other conservative states such as Iowa and South Carolina, where more than 30 per cent of respondents said Trump would not be fit to serve if convicted.

Trump faces multiple federal and state charges for his role in attempting to subvert the 2020 election, as well as federal charges over his handling of classified documents and a New York state case concerning hush-money payments to a porn star. It looks increasingly likely that resolution of those cases could drag past the election.

Warning signs for Biden

Perhaps most worrisome for the Biden campaign yesterday were exit polls from California that showed Trump crushing Haley among nonwhite voters.

According to Edison, Trump bested Haley with those voters, most of whom were Hispanic, 72 per cent to 23 per cent. California has been the most diverse state to hold a Republican primary this year with 36 per cent of respondents classifying themselves as “nonwhite.”

Hispanics and other nonwhite voters are at the core of the Democratic constituency. Trump, however, trailed Biden among Hispanics by just 10 percentage points — 27 per cent to 37 per cent — in a January Reuters/Ipsos poll, with the rest of voters undecided or planning to vote for someone else or not all.

Biden beat Trump among Hispanics by about 20 percentage points in the 2020 election.

Other recent opinion polls have shown Trump gaining strength among nonwhite voters, particularly from the working class. In the California poll, 24 per cent of voters said they lacked a college degree.

Haley has based much of her candidacy on her appeal to moderates and independents, but both those segments went for Trump in large numbers in California, according to Edison.

Haley did manage to win the majority of moderates in North Carolina and Virginia, states that allow voters who are not registered Republicans to vote in the Republican primary.

No penalty

Democratic voters in Iowa did not punish Biden for his decision to oust the state from its early spot in the nominating calendar in favour of more diverse states like South Carolina and Michigan.

Biden easily won Iowa, receiving 91 per cent of the 12,193 votes cast in an exclusively postal ballot election.

The state was the first in the nation to provide results on a night where Biden was expected to sweep the Democratic contests.

Biden faces no real competition in his party. His reelection campaign kept a low profile on Super Tuesday as it prepared to ramp up campaigning following his State of the Union address scheduled for Thursday.

Jason Palmer, who?

Biden actually lost a contest yesterday — to a virtually unknown Democratic candidate named Jason Palmer in the US territory of American Samoa.

Palmer, 52, a tech investor who says he wants to reignite the faith of young people and independents in America’s institutions, led Biden by 51 votes to 40 with 100 per cent of the votes counted, according to the American Samoa Democratic Party.

Palmer has qualified to challenge Biden in more than 15 states and territories, according to his campaign, but had failed to make a splash until Super Tuesday.

American Samoa, which will send six delegates to the Democrats’ nominating convention in August but does not have any electoral college votes in a general election, has proved something of a pitfall for Biden.

In the Democratic American Samoa caucuses in 2020, Biden placed fourth.

Georgia on their minds

Biden and Trump trained their focus on each other in comments about Tuesday’s results, and this weekend both men will head to Georgia.

While the Peach State holds its presidential primaries on March 12 — their official reason for having duelling events there — in reality Georgia will be on their minds because of its importance in November’s general election.

On Saturday, Biden plans a visit to the Atlanta area, a rich source of Democratic votes, while Trump will be in the city of Rome. The events will be their first general election split-screen moment in a key battleground state.

In the 2020 election, Biden beat Trump in Georgia by a miniscule 0.23 per cent — 11,779 votes — and Trump’s efforts to overturn Biden’s win there has since led to the former president being indicted in the state for election interference by the Fulton County district attorney.

Georgia will again be a critical swing state in the expected rematch between Biden and Trump in November, and so Saturday’s visits by both men will likely be their first of many between now and the general election. — Reuters

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