What to Expect in Super Tuesday’s Presidential Nominating Contests

AP Photo
In this combination of photos, President Joe Biden, left, speaks on Aug. 10, 2023, in Salt Lake City, and former President Donald Trump speaks on June 13, 2023, in Bedminster, N.J.

WASHINGTON (AP) — With contests in 16 states and American Samoa, the Super Tuesday primaries will be the largest day of voting of the year outside of the November election. Just how “super” it is may be a matter of perspective.

Both Democratic President Joe Biden and Republican front-runner Donald Trump hope to amass a string of lopsided victories that will help them move beyond the primaries and focus on their expected general election rematch. On the other hand, Nikki Haley faces a tough slate of contests mostly in the types of reliably Republican-voting states where she has struggled to win support or in states where party rules heavily favor the former president.

Super Tuesday has the largest delegate haul of any day in the primary calendar, representing more than one-third of the total delegates available in each party’s nomination process and more than 70% of the delegates needed to mathematically clinch either party’s nomination. Neither Trump nor Biden will be able to claim the title of “presumptive nominee” on Super Tuesday. The earliest that could happen is March 12 for Trump and March 19 for Biden. Trump would need to win about 90% of the nearly 1,100 delegates at stake through March 12 in order to clinch the nomination that day. Biden would need to win about 77% of the nearly 2,300 delegates at stake through March 19 to ensure his nomination by that date.

Alabama, Arkansas, California, North Carolina and Texas will hold state primaries on Tuesday. Among the most notable down-ballot races is the one in California to succeed the late Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Vying to replace her are Democratic Reps. Barbara Lee, Katie Porter and Adam Schiff and Republican Steve Garvey, a former baseball star. Vote-counting in California is famously slow. It’s not unusual for only about half of the vote to be counted by the morning after the election.

Super Tuesday at a glance:


The Associated Press will declare winners in presidential and state primaries on Super Tuesday only when it’s determined there is no scenario that would allow the trailing candidates to close the gap. If a race has not been called, the AP will continue to cover any newsworthy developments, such as candidate concessions or declarations of victory. In doing so, the AP will make clear that it has not yet declared a winner and explain why.

In the presidential contests, Biden and Trump have dominated their respective races for the nomination. Biden has won every contest so far by wide margins. His closest race was in New Hampshire, where he skipped the primary but still won by more than 40 percentage points when supporters mounted a write-in effort on his behalf. In Michigan, where a protest vote resulted in “Uncommitted” winning two delegates, Biden still received more than 81% of the statewide vote. Trump has won seven of the eight contests in which he and Haley both appeared on the ballot. His 11-point win in New Hampshire was the narrowest of his victories.

Haley has performed best in Democratic-leaning areas, as evidenced by her win in the Washington, D.C., primary on Sunday, her first of the campaign. Outside the Beltway, she has also benefited from independents and Democrats participating in Republican primaries, suggesting that her strongest performances could come in places with open primaries, which are not limited to participation by registered Republicans.

In noncompetitive contests, the AP may in some cases be able to determine the winners relatively quickly based on the first vote returns of the night. Factors include the size of the lead in those initial returns, backed by an AP analysis of historical vote returns to determine how different those updates can be from final results.

Other factors include fundraising and ad spending, the type of contest and who is allowed to participate, the state’s voting history and political geography and, in some cases, publicly available early voting data showing how many pre-Election Day votes were cast and from what areas. Once the polls have closed, if initial vote results received from key locations throughout the state confirm that the frontrunner or expected winner is indeed ahead by an overwhelming margin, the AP may declare a winner in that contest.


Democrats: 1,420

Republicans: 854


STATE-RUN PRIMARIES (14): Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia



STATE-RUN PRIMARIES (13): Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia



Alabama, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, Texas


6 p.m. EST: Results expected in Iowa

7 p.m. EST: Polls close in Vermont and Virginia. Caucuses convene in Alaska (Republicans only)

7:30 p.m. EST: Polls close in North Carolina

8 p.m. EST: Polls close in Alabama, Maine, Massachusetts, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Most polls close in Texas.

8:30 p.m. EST: Polls close in Arkansas

9 p.m. EST: Polls close in Colorado and Minnesota. Last polls close in Texas. Caucuses convene in Utah (Republicans only)

10 p.m. EST: Polls close in Utah (Democrats only)

11 p.m. EST: Polls close in California. Voting is expected to end in Utah (Republicans only)

12 a.m. EST: Voting ends in Alaska (Republicans only)