AP Decision Notes: What to expect in Alabama’s state and presidential primaries


WASHINGTON (AP) — The 2024 presidential campaign will roll through Alabama on Tuesday as President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump look to continue their streak of lopsided primary victories in anticipation of an expected general election rematch.

Alabama is one of 16 states and American Samoa to hold contests on Super Tuesday, which has more votes and delegates at stake than any other day of the primary campaign season.

Biden faces a challenge from U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota. Also on the ballot is “uncommitted,” which received about 13% of the vote in the Michigan primary after some voters mounted a protest campaign over the president’s position on Israel and the war in Gaza.

In the Republican race, Trump once again faces former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, who has yet to win a contest this year and faces a tough electoral map on Super Tuesday.

Alabama will also hold its state primary on Tuesday, with voters deciding primaries for Supreme Court chief justice and Public Service Commission, as well as a statewide ballot measure. The slate of races also includes U.S. House primaries, including for a new Democratic-leaning district with a near-majority Black population and another where two Republican incumbents will face off against each other.

Here’s a look at what to expect on election night:


The Alabama presidential and state primaries will be held on Super Tuesday, March 5. Polls close at 8:00 p.m. ET.


The Associated Press will provide coverage for the Democratic and Republican presidential primaries. The Democratic options are Biden, Phillips and “uncommitted.” The Republican options are Trump, Haley, Florida businessman David Stuckenberg, “uncommitted” and former candidates Ryan Binkley, Chris Christie, Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy. Other races on the ballot include primaries for U.S. House, state board of education and various judicial positions.


Any registered voter may participate in the primary. Voters in Alabama do not register by party.


Alabama’s 52 pledged Democratic delegates are allocated according to the national party’s standard rules. Eleven at-large delegates are allocated in proportion to the statewide vote, as are seven PLEO delegates, or “party leaders and elected officials.” The state’s seven congressional districts have a combined 34 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, the candidate who receives a majority of the statewide vote wins 29 at-large delegates. If no one wins a majority, candidates who surpass 20% of the vote divide those 29 delegates proportionally. Each of the seven congressional districts awards three delegates, either giving all of them to the candidate who wins a majority or, if no candidate reaches 50%, dividing them proportionally among candidates who surpass 20%.


The results of previous contests in this campaign so far will help analyze the vote returns from Alabama. The results from another southern state, South Carolina, may be particularly instructive. Haley has performed best in areas that vote heavily Democratic in general elections, while Trump has been dominant in Republican-voting areas. This dynamic has not worked out in Haley’s favor in a Republican primary. In New Hampshire, she beat Trump in heavily Democratic areas but lost in other areas, including those that lean Democratic, thereby losing statewide. The same was true in South Carolina, only to a larger degree. She carried heavily Democratic areas by a smaller margin than in New Hampshire and lost by bigger margins in the rest of the state. Trump won the 2016 primary here by more than 20 points over U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. The more moderate option that year, former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, was a distant fifth place with only 4% of the vote. Alabama’s political wiring works heavily in Trump’s favor and doesn’t show any clear paths to victory for Haley.

For the Democrats, Biden has faced only nominal opposition from Phillips, who has failed to have much of an impact in primary contests so far. In Michigan, Phillips lost to both “uncommitted” and to self-help author Marianne Williamson, who “unsuspended” her campaign on Wednesday. Biden carried more than 80% of the statewide vote. There’s no evidence to show that Phillips will have an outsize impact on Alabama than he has in other contests so far.

State and local primaries with more than two candidates are eligible for a runoff to determine who will appear on the November ballot if no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote. In that case, the top two candidates in a party’s primary advance to the runoff primary in April.

The AP does not make projections and will declare a winner only when it’s determined there is no scenario that would allow the trailing candidates to close the gap. If a race has not been called, the AP will continue to cover any newsworthy developments, such as candidate concessions or declarations of victory. In doing so, the AP will make clear that it has not yet declared a winner and explain why.


Turnout in the 2022 state primaries was 5% of registered voters in the Democratic primaries for governor and U.S. Senate and 18% in the Republican primaries.

In the 2022 primaries, pre-Election Day voting made up about 4% of the total vote in the Democratic statewide primaries and about 2% in the Republican contests.


In the 2022 primary election, the AP first reported results at 8:23 p.m. ET, or 23 minutes after polls closed. The election night tabulation ended at 3:06 a.m. ET with about 99% of total votes counted.


As of Super Tuesday, there will be 132 days until the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, 167 days until the Democratic National Convention in Chicago and 245 until the November general election.

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