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AP Decision Notes: What to expect in Mississippi’s presidential and congressional primaries

In this combination of photos, President Joe Biden speaks on Aug. 10, 2023, in Salt Lake City, from left, former President Donald Trump speaks on July 8, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Donald Trump has his hopes set that Republican voters in Mississippi and three other states will push him over the top Tuesday night in his quest to clinch his party’s presidential nomination for the third election in a row.

Further down the ballot are a handful of primaries for the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House. Republican incumbent Roger Wicker is seeking a fourth full term in the Senate and is the favorite to win his primary against two opponents. Republican primaries are also on the ballot in the 2nd and 4th Congressional Districts, while a Democratic primary is on the ballot in the 1st Congressional District.

Trump won hundreds of delegates on Super Tuesday, pushing him within reach of becoming the presumptive nominee, but he’ll need the bulk of the 161 delegates at stake in Mississippi, Georgia, Hawaii and Washington to close the deal. Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley dropped out of the race this week and is no longer competing for Mississippi’s 40 delegates, but her name will still appear on the ballot.

There’s much less drama in the Democratic presidential primary. For starters, President Joe Biden is the only option on the ballot in Mississippi. And while Biden also won big on Super Tuesday, because of how the party’s nomination process and primary calendar are structured, the earliest he can clinch the nomination is March 19.

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

When is the election?

The Mississippi presidential and state primaries will be held Tuesday. Polls close at 8 p.m. ET.

What’s on the ballot?

The Associated Press will provide coverage for the Democratic and Republican presidential primaries. Biden is the only candidate on the Democratic presidential ballot. The Republican candidates are Trump, Haley and former candidates Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy. The AP will also provide coverage for U.S. Senate and U.S. House primaries.

Who can vote?

Any registered voter may participate in either primary. Voters in Mississippi do not register by party. In the event of a runoff, eligible voters are those who voted in the same party’s primary or those who didn’t cast a ballot in any party’s primary. A voter may not participate in one party’s runoff if they cast a vote in a different party’s primary.

Delegate allocation rules

There are 35 pledged Democratic delegates at stake in Mississippi, and they’re awarded according to the national party’s standard rules, which allocate them proportionally based on statewide and congressional district votes. But with Biden standing alone on the ballot, no other candidate is eligible to receive delegates in Mississippi.

Mississippi has 40 Republican delegates at stake in the primary. All 40 delegates are awarded to the candidate who wins a majority of the statewide vote. If no candidate gets a statewide vote majority, the 28 statewide delegates are allocated proportionally to candidates who receive at least 20% of the statewide vote. For the 12 district-level delegates, if no candidate receives a statewide vote majority, the top statewide vote-getter receives two delegates in each of the four congressional districts, while the second-place statewide finisher gets one delegate per district.

Decision notes

Tuesday’s presidential primaries in Mississippi are unlikely to be competitive. Biden is the only candidate listed on the ballot and will be declared the winner as soon as polls close at 8 p.m. ET. Trump faces no major opposition. After polls close, the first indication that he is winning statewide on a level consistent with the overwhelming margins seen in most other contests held so far this year may be sufficient to determine the statewide winner.

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.

What do turnout and advance vote look like?

Turnout in 2023 was about 9% of registered voters in the Democratic primary for governor and about 18% in the Republican primary. There were just shy of 2,067,000 total registered voters for those primaries.

As of Feb. 26, the number of ballots already cast in the presidential primaries was 3,377. A breakdown by party is not available. In 2023, pre-Election Day voting made up about 8% of the total vote in the gubernatorial primaries.

How long does vote-counting usually take?

In the 2023 primaries for governor, the AP first reported results at 8:21 p.m. ET, or 21 minutes after polls closed. The election night tabulation ended at 1:30 a.m. ET with about 96% of total votes counted.

Are we there yet?

As of Tuesday, there will be 125 days until the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, 160 days until the Democratic National Convention in Chicago and 238 until the November general election.

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