Trump dominates Super Tuesday to close in on Republican nomination

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Donald Trump cruised to victory in more than two-thirds of the states holding Republican primaries on Super Tuesday, on a night that is set to bring him to the brink of securing his party’s presidential nomination to face Joe Biden in this year’s White House race.

By 9.30pm Eastern Time, Trump had won 11 of the 15 states voting on Super Tuesday, a pivotal date on the primary calendar. The former president’s dominance will heap more pressure on his main rival, Nikki Haley, to abandon her bid.

So far Haley has only won a single primary in this year’s Republican nominating contest, in the District of Columbia, the seat of the US capital. Four more states, including California, will declare their results later on Tuesday.

Trump is expected to approach the 1,215 delegates to the Republican National Convention that he needs to seal the party’s nomination in July — but not cross that threshold until later this month.

Biden has been dominating the Democratic primary contests across all the states that have held votes so far, overcoming challenges from rivals Dean Phillips and Marianne Williamson that never gained any significant traction. On Tuesday, he won the Iowa caucus, which held a mail-in contest, with the backing of 91 per cent of Democratic voters in the Midwestern state. He had also won primaries in seven other states by 8.45pm Eastern Time, according to the Associated Press.

The results set the US up for the first presidential election rematch since 1956, when Republican Dwight Eisenhower beat Democrat Adlai Stevenson for a second consecutive time.

“Tonight’s results leave the American people with a clear choice,” Biden said in a statement on Tuesday. “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?”

Polls have repeatedly shown that most Americans do not want to see Biden, who is 81, and Trump, 77, facing off again for the White House, but primary voters in both parties have slammed the door shut on any alternatives as rival campaigns faltered.

Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator from South Carolina, urged Haley to be a “team player” and support Trump’s campaign instead of continuing her own bid, in an interview on CNN. “I find it difficult to imagine Nikki Haley would not support President Trump when it’s all said and done,” Graham said.

Trump’s overwhelming advantage in the Republican primary contest represents a startling comeback for the former president, who was impeached twice by the House of Representatives while he was in office and is facing 91 criminal charges in federal and state courts.

Trump has continued to deny the results of the 2020 election on the campaign trail, and warned that he would seek revenge against his political opponents if he wins another term in office.

But many Republican voters believe he has been a victim of political persecution and fail to blame Trump for the attack by a mob of his supporters on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

They yearn for a new, massive crackdown on immigration at the border with Mexico and a return to the pre-pandemic economy under Trump, when inflation was subdued, interest rates were low and unemployment was slightly below its level today.

Republican voters have also largely embraced Trump’s isolationist foreign policy views and shrugged off his more favourable stance on Russian President Vladimir Putin, including his recent suggestion that Russia should do “whatever the hell they want” to Nato allies that do not spend enough on defence.

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But perhaps most importantly, Trump was able to cast himself as a viable general election candidate against Biden, despite his defeat in 2020 and the defeat of several of his preferred congressional candidates in the 2022 midterm elections. Trump has been helped by general election polling showing him leading Biden by 2 percentage points nationally, according to the latest average on Realclearpolitics.com.

Nevertheless, his ability to win over moderate and swing voters against Biden remains in question, because of his abrasive style and rhetoric, as well as the extreme nature of some of his policies. A potentially decisive factor in November will be whether Haley voters in the Republican primary return to Trump, flip to Biden, switch to a third-party candidate, or stay home altogether.

Biden has his own big political vulnerabilities, starting with the belief of many Americans that he is too old to hold office for another four years — but also discontent with his handling of a number of crucial issues, including the economy, immigration and even foreign policy. Biden’s only clear edge at the moment is on the issue of abortion and reproductive rights, following the conservative-led Supreme Court’s decision in 2022 to overturn the constitutional right to end a pregnancy.

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