AP Decision Notes: What to expect in the California state and presidential primaries

WASHINGTON (AP) — With Super Tuesday fast approaching, presidential campaigns are eyeing the biggest prize of the day, the California primary.

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Democratic President Joe Biden and Republican front-runner Donald Trump both hope that California –- contests in other states – can help them turn the corner toward the nomination and focus on their expected general election rematch in November.

In the Democratic primary, Biden faces challenges from Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota and self-help author Marianne Williamson, who reentered the nomination race Wednesday after dropping out three weeks earlier.

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The highest profile state race in California is the one to succeed the late Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein. The crowded field of candidates includes Democratic Reps. Barbara Lee, Katie Porter and Adam Schiff and Republican Steve Garvey, a former baseball star.

There are two primary elections on the ballot to replace Feinstein: one is to fill the remaining months of her current term and the other is for a full six-year term starting in January 2025.

California has a “top-two” primary system in which all candidates appear on the same ballot regardless of party, and the top two finishers advance to the general election.

In the presidential race, California is home to the largest haul of delegates in both parties. California’s 424 Democratic delegates make up almost one-third of the total at stake on Super Tuesday.

On the Republican side, the state’s 169 delegates amount to about one-fifth of those available that day. The party’s delegate rules, which award all delegates to the candidate who wins a statewide vote majority, greatly favor frontrunning candidates and gives Trump an opportunity to capture every delegate at stake.

Another notable race on the ballot is the primary to replace Porter in the 47th Congressional District, a seat she gave up to run for the Senate.

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.

The Super Tuesday primaries are comprised of California and 15 other states holding presidential nominating contests. American Samoa is also holding Democratic caucuses that day. It is the single largest day of voting in the primary calendar.

A look at what to expect on election night:


The California presidential and state primaries will be held Tuesday. Polls close at 11:00 p.m. EST.


The Democratic presidential candidates are Biden, Phillips, Williamson and five others. The Republican candidates include Trump, Haley, Florida businessman David Stuckenberg and former candidates Ryan Binkley, Chris Christie, Ron DeSantis, Asa Hutchinson and Vivek Ramaswamy. Other races on the ballot include primaries for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, state Senate and state House.


Only registered Republicans may vote in the Republican presidential primary. Registered Democrats and unaffiliated voters may vote in the Democratic presidential primary. All registered voters may vote in the state primaries with a “top-two” ballot format.


There are 424 pledged Democratic delegates at stake in California, and they’re awarded according to the national party’s standard rules. Ninety-two at-large delegates are allocated in proportion to the statewide vote, as are 55 PLEO delegates, or “party leaders and elected officials.” The state’s 52 congressional districts have a combined 277 delegates at stake, which are allocated in proportion to the vote results in each district. Candidates must receive at least 15% of the statewide vote to qualify for any statewide delegates, and 15% of the vote in a congressional district to qualify for delegates in that district.

For Republicans, all 169 delegates are awarded to the candidate who wins a majority of the statewide vote. If no candidate reaches a majority, the 169 delegates are allocated proportionally among the candidates.


Trump became the dominant figure in the Republican politics since his election in 2016, and his hold on the party continues eight years later. He remains popular among conservative Republicans, and that has translated into success at the ballot box this year, having won every primary and caucus where his name appeared on the ballot.

In this year’s primaries and caucuses, Haley has done best in heavily Democratic areas, which California has plenty to offer. But Trump has mostly won in Democratic-leaning areas as well as in Republican strongholds, enabling him to win overall by large margins.

Trump won a nonbinding California primary in 2016 with 75% of the vote after he had already clinched the nomination.

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  1. Really??? says

    And the winner is???

    In Calif. not the lesser party factions. Only the fat cat Socialist and incredibly stupid Jewish votes where their interests are being destroyed.

    Why else would Dems open borders to criminals and terrorists?

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