WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden and his predecessor, Donald Trump, were sweeping the coast-to-coast contests on Super Tuesday, all but cementing a November rematch and increasing pressure on the former president’s last major rival, Nikki Haley, to leave the Republican race.

Biden and Trump had each won Texas, Alabama, Colorado, Maine, Oklahoma, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Minnesota and Massachusetts. Biden also won the Democratic primaries in Vermont and Iowa.

Haley’s strongest performance was in Vermont, where she was essentially tied with Trump in early results. But the former president carried other states that might have been favorable to Haley such as Virginia and Maine, which have large swaths of moderate voters like those who have backed her in previous primaries.

Not enough states will have voted until later this month for Trump or Biden to formally become their parties’ presumptive nominees. But the primary’s biggest day made their rematch a near certainty. Both the 81-year-old Biden and the 77-year-old Trump continue to dominate their parties despite facing questions about age and neither having broad popularity across the general electorate.

The only contest either of them lost Tuesday was the Democratic caucus in American Samoa, a tiny U.S. territory in the South Pacific Ocean. Biden was defeated by unknown candidate Jason Palmer, 51 votes to 40.

Haley, who has argued both Biden and Trump are too old to return to the White House, was spending election night watching results in the Charleston, South Carolina, area, where she lives. Her campaign website doesn’t list any upcoming events. Still, her aides insisted that the mood at her watch party was “jubilant.”

Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, meanwhile, was packed for a victory party that featured hors d’oeuvres including empanadas and baked brie. Among those attending were staff and supporters, including the rapper Forgiato Blow and former North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn. The crowd erupted as Fox News, playing on screens around the ballroom, announced that the former president had won North Carolina’s GOP primary.

While much of the focus is on the presidential race, there were also important down-ballot contests. The governor’s race took shape in North Carolina, where Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson and Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein will face off in a state that both parties are fiercely contesting ahead of November.

California voters were choosing candidates who will compete to fill the Senate seat long held by Dianne Feinstein. And in Los Angeles, a progressive prosecutor attempted to fend off an intense reelection challenge in a contest that could serve as a barometer of the politics of crime.

The earliest either Biden or Trump can become his party’s presumptive nominee is March 12 for Trump and March 19 for Biden. But both are already signaling publicly that they are looking forward to facing each other again.

“We have to beat Biden — he is the worst president in history,” Trump said Tuesday on “Fox & Friends.”

Biden countered with a pair of radio interviews aimed at shoring up his support among Black voters, who helped anchor his 2020 coalition.

“If we lose this election, you’re going to be back with Donald Trump,” Biden said on the “DeDe in the Morning” show hosted by DeDe McGuire. “The way he talks about, the way he acted, the way he has dealt with the African American community, I think, has been shameful.”

Despite Biden’s and Trump’s domination of their parties, polls make it clear that the broader electorate does not want this year’s general election to be identical to the 2020 race. A new AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll finds a majority of Americans don’t think either Biden or Trump has the necessary mental acuity for the job.

“Both of them failed, in my opinion, to unify this country,” said Brian Hadley, 66, of Raleigh, North Carolina.

The final days before Tuesday demonstrated the unique nature of this year’s campaign. Rather than barnstorming the states holding primaries, Biden and Trump held rival events last week along the U.S.-Mexico border, each seeking to gain an advantage in the increasingly fraught immigration debate.

After the Supreme Court ruled 9-0 on Monday to restore Trump to primary ballots following attempts to ban him for his role in helping spark the Capitol riot, Trump pointed to the 91 criminal counts against him to accuse Biden of weaponizing the courts.

“Fight your fight yourself,” Trump said. “Don’t use prosecutors and judges to go after your opponent.”

Biden delivers the State of the Union address Thursday, then will campaign in the key swing states of Pennsylvania and Georgia.

The former president has nonetheless already vanquished more than a dozen major Republican challengers and now faces only Haley, his former U.N. ambassador. She has maintained strong fundraising and notched her first primary victory over the weekend in Washington, D.C., a Democrat-run city with few registered Republicans. Trump scoffed that Haley had been “crowned queen of the swamp.”

“We can do better than two 80-year-old candidates for president,” Haley said at a rally Monday in the Houston suburbs.

Trump’s victories, however dominating, have shown vulnerabilities with influential voter blocs, especially in college towns like Hanover, New Hampshire, home to Dartmouth College, or Ann Arbor, where the University of Michigan is located, as well as areas with high concentrations of independents. That includes Minnesota, a state Trump did not carry in his otherwise overwhelming Super Tuesday performance in 2016.

Seth De Penning, a self-described conservative-leaning independent, voted Tuesday morning in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, for Haley, he said, because the GOP “needs a course correction.” De Penning, 40, called his choice a vote of conscience and said he has never voted for Trump because of concerns about his temperament and character.

Still, Haley winning any Super Tuesday contests would take an upset, and a Trump sweep would only intensify pressure on her to leave the race.

Biden has his own problems, including low approval ratings and polls suggesting that many Americans, even a majority of Democrats, don’t want to see the 81-year-old running again. The president’s easy Michigan primary win last week was spoiled slightly by an “uncommitted” campaign organized by activists who disapprove of the president’s handling of Israel’s war in Gaza.

Allies of the “uncommitted” vote are pushing similar protest votes elsewhere, including Minnesota. The state has a significant population of Muslims, including in its Somali American community.

In Massachusetts, 29-year-old Aliza Hoover explained her “no preference” vote as a principled opposition to Biden’s approach to Israel but said it does not necessarily reflect how she will vote in November.

“I think a vote of no preference right now is a statement to make yourself a single-issue voter, and at the moment the fact that my tax dollars are funding a genocide does make me a single-issue voter,” Hoover said.

Biden also is the oldest president ever and Republicans key on any verbal slip he makes. His aides insist that skeptical voters will come around once it is clear that either Trump or Biden will be elected again in November. Trump is now the same age Biden was during the 2020 campaign, and he has exacerbated questions about his own fitness with recent flubs, such as mistakenly suggesting he was running against Barack Obama, who left the White House in 2017.

“I would love to see the next generation move up and take leadership roles,” said Democrat Susan Steele, 71, who voted Tuesday for Biden in Portland, Maine.

Such concerns haven’t moved ardent Trump supporters.

“Trump would eat him up,” Ken Ballos, a retired police officer who attended a weekend Trump rally in Virginia, adding that Biden “would look like a fool up there.”

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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