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Super Tuesday should clarify who's on track to secure their party's nomination

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Many American states and one territory release their voting results on this Super Tuesday.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

As a public service, we are going to tell you which ones they are. Here goes - Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado.

INSKEEP: Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma.

MARTIN: Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia.

INSKEEP: Democrats in American Samoa hold caucuses. Democrats in Iowa released the results of their presidential preference caucus.

MARTIN: President Biden has few challenges on the Democratic side while Donald Trump still has one. Nikki Haley is still appealing for votes. Nakitia Macalco (ph) of Caroline County, Va., is leaning toward the choice she made last time.

NAKITIA MACALCO: I definitely think we need a change. I supported Trump in the past. I agree with some of his policies. I definitely think he's business minded, and I do agree with a lot of that, as well. And I think our economy needs that.

INSKEEP: One of many views in this election. NPR national political correspondent Don Gonyea joins us now. Don, good morning.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: Good morning.

INSKEEP: Could this be the last day for serious competition?

GONYEA: Well, it's - you know, it's possible. It's possible. But again, you have to break it down on each side. And on the Republican side, former President Donald Trump has a commanding lead in delegates so far and in polling over former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. She has pledged to stay in the race, at least through today. But Steve, as recently as yesterday, she was still sending announcements about supporters and staffers in states yet to come down the road. So ultimately, we will see what she is all about and her campaign is all about after the polls close tonight.

INSKEEP: Well, this is very interesting. If you've got the money and if you've got the will, you can go on even if you think your odds are low. And this is something that candidates have done in primaries before. So given that, what do you think about when you hear people say that tonight could effectively be the start of the general election?

GONYEA: Well, you know, we've also certainly got President Biden facing some minor challenges, but he's won every state so far. Tonight, you know, there's the math but there's also probability. So as far as the math goes, the earliest they can each clinch the nomination outright is later this month. For Trump, it could happen March 12. For Biden, it's a week later. They'll - both, again, are already seen as likely nominees, barring some major, unforeseen development. And those can happen. Voters we talked to, I should add, overwhelmingly are already looking toward a 2020 rematch between Biden and Trump.

INSKEEP: OK. So attitudinally, people are there, but there's a question of how much the major candidates might be damaged or bumped up a little bit or bumped around a little bit before we're done. What are you looking at, Don, if you go down ballot, elsewhere on the ballot?

GONYEA: That's where it gets interesting for geeks, right? And in California, there's a U.S. Senate race long held by the late Senator Dianne Feinstein. The two top vote getters today advance to the general election, regardless of party. So it could be two Democrats running against one another in the fall for that seat. North Carolina has a gubernatorial race we'll be watching closely. And Alabama, redistricting. So we're watching all that.

INSKEEP: NPR's Don Gonyea, thanks for your insights, as always. Really appreciate it.

GONYEA: It's a pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
You're most likely to find NPR's Don Gonyea on the road, in some battleground state looking for voters to sit with him at the local lunch spot, the VFW or union hall, at a campaign rally, or at their kitchen tables to tell him what's on their minds. Through countless such conversations over the course of the year, he gets a ground-level view of American elections. Gonyea is NPR's National Political Correspondent, a position he has held since 2010. His reports can be heard on all NPR News programs and at NPR.org. To hear his sound-rich stories is akin to riding in the passenger seat of his rental car, traveling through Iowa or South Carolina or Michigan or wherever, right along with him.