Super Tuesday takeaways: Biden and Trump’s momentum can’t be stopped, Haley seeks to suspend campaign


The outlook for the American presidential race has not been cloudy for some time, even if it is one that most voters say they do not want to see.

On the not-so-super Tuesday, there were few surprises. It became increasingly clear that US President Joe Biden was on a glide path to the Democratic nomination that only some kind of personal catastrophe could alter. And his predecessor, Donald Trump, if she can overcome the 91 criminal charges against him and avoid any further calamity, is headed for a third Republican nomination and a rematch against the president. Trump’s main Republican rival, former U.N. ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, made plans to announce that she was suspending her campaign.

Enthusiasm for Biden was not the story of the day, with some Democrats even voting “no compromise” rather than for the incumbent. For Trump, there were warning signs even with his string of victories over his main rival, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

Here are some key takeaways from Super Tuesday:

Haley steps aside

Haley won her first state primary season, Vermont, but that was no reason to talk about momentum. She continued her long streak of big losses to Trump in the Republican primaries in every region of the country. His only other victory came in last week’s Washington, D.C. primary.

Tuesday’s defeats continued to erode the logic of their insurgent challenge. She fell short even in states like Virginia, where the electorate, rich in college-educated suburban voters, worked in her favor.

Hours after the final polls closed in Alaska, Haley scheduled a 10 a.m. ET speech in her home state of South Carolina to announce that her campaign was on pause. Three people with direct knowledge who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly confirmed Haley’s decision before her announcement.

That doesn’t mean his campaign didn’t have an impact. She has repeatedly said that Trump can’t win a general election, largely because he will have trouble winning over the kind of Republicans who supported her. In a close election, even a small movement of voters away from Trump could swing a state and alter the outcome.

He also delivered the kind of harsh personal attacks on Trump that could appear in Democratic ads against him in the fall, accusing him of an $83 million judgment against him for defaming a woman who sued him for sexual assault, and warning that could transform the Republican National Committee into its own “legal slush fund.”

As goes Vermont, so goes Vermont

Vermont was once a bastion of old-guard Republicanism, exclusively electing Republican candidates to state offices for more than a century. But the state that gave Haley her only victory on Super Tuesday has long since given up that reputation.

Now Vermont, which last went Republican in a presidential race in 1988, is perhaps best known for progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders, the jam band Phish and a crunchy variety of down-to-earth lifestyle.

So while Vermont gave Haley her first statewide victory, the state itself is decidedly out of step with Trump and the modern Republican Party.

The Biden-Trump mirror primaries

What has been obvious for weeks is now beyond a reasonable doubt: Biden and Trump are the heavy favorites to face each other in November.

They couldn’t be more different in perspective, but they seemed to be mirror images of each other during the primary season.

Trump wanted a coronation, but Haley made him fight at least a little to win the nomination. She has held on to a stubborn portion of voters, a possible indication that part of the Republican Party is not as enthusiastic about Trump as expected.

Biden, on the other hand, faces a lack of Democratic enthusiasm on paper, but not in the primaries. Polls show trouble for him among some of his party’s key demographics, including younger and black voters. But Biden, who has not faced any major challengers, won his primary by wide margins.

The only possible sign of trouble for him on Tuesday was an unusually high number of Democrats voting “uncommitted” in Minnesota in protest of the president’s handling of the war in Gaza.

One or both of these two politicians may be more limited than they seem, but they are still the only options.

House races, primary primacy

Super Tuesday is so vast that there were primaries for more than a quarter of all House seats: 115 of 438. But only eight of those seats are likely to be competitive in November.

That staggering statistic comes from Michael Li, a redistricting expert at the Brennan Institute for Justice in New York. That means most of the House candidates who won primaries on Tuesday are guaranteed seats in Congress, just by winning the votes of the most motivated members of their parties.

That is one of the biggest causes of polarization in the United States. The number of competitive seats in the House has been steadily shrinking for decades. It reflects both partisan manipulation and the sorting of citizens into increasingly partisan enclaves.

Texas is an example of the role of gerrymandering. In 2018 and 2020 it hosted several competitive House races as Democrats began to gain ground in the red state. So the Republicans who controlled the House of Representatives simply redrawn the lines to protect Republicans, bringing together large groups of Democrats. That meant Democrats had safe seats, but fewer than they normally would because they couldn’t threaten any Republican incumbents.

Regardless of the cause, it means that much of the battle for the House ended Tuesday night.

The North Carolina race could mirror the Biden vs. trump

North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson easily won the state’s Republican primary for governor. His incendiary rhetoric (he has called Hillary Clinton a “heifer” and Michelle Obama a man) ensures a close general election in the crucial swing state that could spill over into the presidential race.

Robinson had no prior experience in public office before his 2020 election, and it shows.

He criticized the action hero film “Black Panther” in 2018 as a “satanic Marxist production” made by a “secular Jew,” using a Yiddish slur for black people. He faced calls to resign in 2021 after comparing gay and transgender people to “filth.”

His bold style earned applause from Trump, who on Sunday called Robinson “better than Martin Luther King” and offered his “complete and total endorsement.”

But it’s also likely to motivate state Democrats to come out in November to support the state’s attorney general, Josh Stein, while also raising tons of advertising dollars to use Robinson’s own words against him.

Biden and Iowa: the fourth time is the charm

On his fourth try, Joe Biden finally won Iowa.

For decades, Biden had been rejected by his voters, from his first failed bid in the 1988 cycle until 2020, when he finished a distant fourth place. In 2008, he won less than 1% of the caucus vote.

This time, Iowa wasn’t first and it was a primary, not a caucus, and Biden won easily.

His victory on Tuesday came only after he was already sitting president and after the state was stripped of its prized leadership role and voted out along with the masses.

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