Washington pushes Trump over the top in GOP delegate count after presidential primary

Mar 12, 2024, 8:12 PM | Updated: 10:38 pm

Image: Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump speaks rally at Coastal ...

Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump speaks rally at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina, on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. The state of Washington's presidential primary was held on Tuesday, March 12, 2024. (Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta, AP)

(Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta, AP)

Donald Trump, whose single term in the White House transformed the Republican Party and tested the resilience of democratic institutions in the U.S., will lead the GOP in a third consecutive election after clinching the nomination following wins in Washington’s presidential primary and two southern states Tuesday.

With big wins in Washington, and also in Georgia and Mississippi, Trump surpassed the 1,215-delegate threshold needed to become the presumptive Republican nominee, The Associated Press projected Tuesday night. The state of Washington, unofficially, put the former president over the top in his journey to secure the party’s nomination as the AP announced Trump had the delegate numbers shortly after the Evergreen State’s polls closed Tuesday night. He’ll formally accept the nomination at the Republican National Convention in July.

As the AP noted in its coverage Tuesday night, Trump’s victory in the GOP primary ushers in what will almost certainly be an extraordinarily negative general election campaign that will tug at the nation’s already searing political and cultural divides. He’ll face President Joe Biden in the fall, pitting two deeply unpopular figures against each other in a rematch of the 2020 campaign that few voters say they want to experience again.

Thirty-eight percent of Americans viewed Trump very or somewhat favorably in a February poll conducted by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs, compared to 41% for Biden.

Trump is attempting to return to the White House after threatening democratic norms in the U.S. He refused to accept his loss to Biden in 2020, spending months grasping at baseless conspiracy theories of election fraud that were roundly rejected by the courts and his own attorney general. His rage during a rally on Jan. 6, 2021, helped rile up a mob of supporters who later violently attacked the U.S. Capitol in an effort to disrupt the congressional certification of Biden’s win.

How Trump secured the delegates for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination

The Associated Press declared Trump the presumptive nominee at 8:09 p.m., following his wins Tuesday in Georgia, Mississippi and here in the state of Washington. He won at least 126 of their combined available delegates to push him past the 1,215 needed to become the presumptive nominee.

The AP concluded Trump would secure enough delegates in Washington to clinch the nomination after an analysis found that he would receive a statewide vote majority, which would entitle him to the lion’s share of the state’s 43 delegates.

Washington’s Republican delegates are awarded based on both the statewide vote and the vote in each congressional district. A candidate who receives more than 50% of the statewide vote wins all 13 statewide delegates. The candidate who wins more than 50% of the vote in a congressional district wins all three delegates from that district. If no candidate receives a vote majority, delegates are then awarded in proportion to the statewide vote as well as the vote in each district. Candidates must receive at least 20% of the vote to qualify for any delegates in Washington.

As the polls closed in Washington, Trump was just 30 delegates shy of reaching the 1,215-delegate mark. Once the AP determined he would win a statewide vote majority, he was entitled to all 13 statewide delegates, leaving him 17 delegates short of 1,215. The AP’s analysis then concluded that Trump would win a vote majority in most if not all of the state’s 10 congressional districts, pushing him past the number of delegates needed to secure the nomination.

To determine whether Trump would receive a vote majority in any congressional district, the AP compared the current Washington vote results to past results in the state, as well as to the demographics of the counties that have already reported vote results and to the estimated turnout in counties across the state.

Trump’s path to unofficially clinching this year’s nomination more closely resembled the one he took as the incumbent in 2020 than his 2016 bid as a first-time candidate. He defeated an at-times crowded field of rivals to secure the 2024 nomination, his third in eight years.

The former president’s near-clean sweep of last week’s Super Tuesday contests, as well as his win in American Samoa’s caucuses, put him just 126 delegates shy of the 1,215 needed to clinch the nomination heading into Tuesday’s contests. This included 11 delegates in Texas that the state party announced Tuesday would be awarded to Trump. The party had previously planned to award the delegates at the state party convention in May but instead awarded them based on the March 5 primary after saying in a social media post that their original plan was in conflict with Republican National Committee rules.

What makes Super Tuesday so important? It’s all about the delegates

Trump needed about 78% of the 161 delegates available in Tuesday’s contests, a reasonable goal considering he won 93% of last week’s massive Super Tuesday delegate haul.

The first polls of the night closed at 4 p.m. in Georgia, which has 59 Republican delegates, 42 of which are awarded in 14 congressional districts. At 5 p.m., voting ended in Mississippi, where 12 of the state’s 40 delegates are awarded by four congressional districts if no one wins a statewide majority.

Looking more at Washington’s presidential primary

The polls closed at 8 p.m. in Washington, which has 43 delegates, 30 of which are awarded in 10 congressional districts.

Georgia, Mississippi and Washington account for 142 delegates. For Trump to win the nomination before the caucuses end in Hawaii, he needed to win all but five of the delegates from those three states.

The King County Elections Office is projecting a 40% voter turnout for this election.

“We are at about 25% turnout thus far for this election. We’re projecting 40% and we believe we’re on track to hit that by the end of the day,” Halei Watkins, a communications manager for King County Elections, said to KIRO 7.

On their way to work voters made a quick stop at the ballot drop box.

“Voting is hugely important, and I tell my kids all the time how hugely important it is to vote and I think in this race, it’s particularly important this year,” Kristen Walker-White told KIRO 7.

More Washington politics: Coalition pushed for Democrats to vote ‘uncommitted’ in primary

These results will be certified on March 22.

“If you don’t vote, your voice isn’t being heard, and in the primary we need to make a statement I think,” Walker-White added.

Ballots needed to be postmarked by Tuesday for those planning to submit it by mail.

Voters dropping off their ballots at a ballot box had until 8 p.m. Tuesday to do so.

Contributing: The Associated Press; KIRO 7; Steve Coogan, MyNorthwest

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