Why AP called Democratic contests for Biden: Race calls explained

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Associated Press was able to declare President Joe Biden the winner of Democratic presidential contests in several states on Tuesday minutes after polls closed, as initial vote results showed him with overwhelming leads over the rest of the field.

In Virginia, Biden was declared the winner at 7:09 p.m. EST. Although less than 1% of the vote had been tabulated in the commonwealth, Biden had received more than nine out of 10 votes cast. He led by such a wide margin that the AP’s analysis of Virginia’s voting history and the political leanings of different areas showed there was no scenario that would allow a trailing candidate to take the lead.

Biden also was leading with about nine out of every 10 votes when AP called the Vermont contest at 7:20 p.m., shortly after the state’s 7 p.m. poll closing. Although only about an estimated 2% of the vote had been tabulated by that point, the initial vote results showed Biden with commanding leads across the state’s political spectrum — from the state’s Democratic−leaning areas to Republican−leaning territory and the moderate swing areas in between. He also had a sizable lead in the state’s heavily Republican areas.

The state’s heavily Democratic areas had yet to report, but they did not offer a path to victory for any of his challengers.

In North Carolina, Biden was declared the winner at 7:39 p.m. EST — less than 10 minutes after polls closed — with some vote results reported from about a quarter of the state’s 100 counties. He was the only named candidate listed on the ballot, and initial vote results showed him easily leading “No preference,” the only other option on the ballot. Again, Biden was winning about nine out of every 10 votes in geographic regions throughout the state.

Earlier in the night, Biden was declared in the winner in Iowa’s first vote−by−mail Democratic presidential preference contest. Voting took place between Jan. 12 through Super Tuesday among registered Iowa Democrats who requested a mail ballot. Ballots postmarked by Tuesday will be accepted up until the party certifies the vote on March 16.

The Iowa contest was the first race called on Super Tuesday, when voters decide primaries and caucuses in 16 states and American Samoa. More than 70% of the delegates needed to mathematically clinch either the Democratic or Republican presidential nomination will be decided based on Tuesday’s contests.

Biden has won every contest so far of the 2024 primary 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.

Heading into Super Tuesday, the earliest Biden could win enough delegates to clinch the nomination was March 19. He would need to win about 77% of the delegates at stake on Super Tuesday through March 19 to wrap up the nomination by that date.

Robert Yoon, The Associated Press

Photo: AP