Super Tuesday: Three takeaways from marquee primary night that opened the 2024 show

President Donald Trump dominated the Super Tuesday Republican primary contests, now only a handful of delegates away from becoming the 2024 GOP nominee.

“Nov. 5 is going to go down as the single most important day in the history of our country,” Trump said during his election night watch party at his Mar-a-Lago private resort in Florida.

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But Super Tuesday added other critical contours to the political landscape before November’s general election, not only for the White House, but for Congress and other crucial down-ballot races.

Here are the Washington Examiner‘s top three takeaways from Super Tuesday 2024:

Haley’s falling star

President Joe Biden and Trump performed reasonably well on Super Tuesday, though they lost American Samoa and Vermont, respectively. Despite the former president remaining short of the 1,215 delegates required for the Republican nomination, his one-time U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, does not appear to have a path forward with the GOP, pending some legal problem for her old boss.

“This will just be a confirmation that Biden and Trump are closing in on becoming ‘presumptive’ nominees,” Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, told the Washington Examiner. Virginia was a Super Tuesday state.

But regardless of the naysayers, Haley’s campaign, which has not organized any events or paid for any advertising post-Tuesday, seems determined to proceed — or is, at least, not ready to endorse yet — instead, commemorating her win in Vermont. Her only victory prior had been in Washington, D.C. last weekend.

“Unity is not achieved by simply claiming ‘we’re united,’” Haley campaign spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas told reporters. “Today, in state after state, there remains a large block of Republican primary voters who are expressing deep concerns about Donald Trump. That is not the unity our party needs for success.”

‘Cracks’ in Biden and Trump’s support

Cracks in Biden or Trump’s support “portend obstacles for either or both,” according to Northeastern University political science chair and professor Costas Panagopoulos, based in Massachusetts, another Super Tuesday state.

“Sizable numbers of ‘preference’ protest votes in states that allow them could signal fissures in the Biden coalition,” Panagopoulos said.

Of the 17 Super Tuesday states and territories, seven provided Democrats with the opportunity to mark themselves as “uncommitted,” as having “no preference,” or as a “noncommitted delegate” on their ballot. About 12% of Democrats in North Carolina, a Republican-leaning battleground state, voted “no preference” on Tuesday, compared to 2% in the 2020 election.

Exit polls also reported concerning trends for Biden, including more Republican primary voters than not continuing to disregard his win last cycle as illegitimate and immigration consistently being among respondents’ top policy priorities. On the flip side, the same exit polls found problems for Trump, with many GOP respondents telling pollsters they would not necessarily cast a ballot for the party’s nominee in November. That phenomenon was more pronounced among Haley’s base.

Meanwhile, the Biden campaign projected confidence, despite losing American Samoa to little-known Maryland entrepreneur Jason Palmer, 51 votes to the president’s 40.

“Tonight’s results leave the American people with a clear choice: Are we going to keep moving forward or will we allow Donald Trump to drag us backwards into the chaos, division, and darkness that defined his term in office?” Biden wrote in a statement.

Marquee races: California’s Senate seat and North Carolina’s governor mansion

Since the Republican and Democratic presidential primary races are relatively predictable, Super Tuesday’s down-ballot races became more intriguing, according to University of South Carolina College of Information and Communications dean emeritus and North Carolina-retired Charles Bierbauer.

“California’s jungle U.S. Senate primary,” said Eric Ostermeier, Smart Politics author and founder and Minnesota Historical Election Archive curator, as an example. “Few expect a Republican to win this seat in a general election, but how much attention — and funding — will Republican Steve Garvey receive?”

California’s primary process dictates that the top two placegetters proceed to November’s general election, irrespective of their party.

Colby College government professor emeritus Sandy Maisel added the performance of Garvey, a former baseball first baseman, means more centrist Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) has “a very clear and quite easy path to the United States Senate” after dispatching more liberal Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA).

Porter, “Obviously, she is out, but so are the progressives in California,” Maisel said.

Bierbauer described his state of North Carolina’s governor’s race as “interesting,” considering Republican nominee Mark Robinson is “cut from MAGA cloth and — if it’s possible — even more outlandish in some of his public comments than Trump.” Robinson will face Democrat Josh Stein to replace Gov. Roy Cooper (D-NC) in November.

“Based on the primaries, what might we anticipate on the balance of the Senate and House? Which incumbents are vulnerable?” Bierbauer asked.

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Elsewhere around the country, Rep. Jerry Carl (R-AL) became the first incumbent to be primaried in 2024, this time by Rep. Barry Moore (R-AL), after redistricting in Alabama’s 1st Congressional District and Rep. Colin Allred (D-TX) progressed to the general election for the chance to challenge Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) for his Texas U.S. Senate seat.

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