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Biden, Trump cruise to victory in Arizona Presidential Preference Election

By Ben Giles, Camryn Sanchez, Wayne Schutsky
Published: Tuesday, March 19, 2024 - 4:19pm
Updated: Wednesday, March 20, 2024 - 1:48pm

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Side by side photos of Donald Trump and Joe Biden
Gage Skidmore/CC BY 2.0, Charlie Leight/ASU News
Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump cruised to victory in Arizona’s presidential preference election on Tuesday.

The Associated Press called the races almost immediately at 8 p.m., when the first batch of results were released — roughly an hour after polls closed in Arizona.

With 80% of results in, Trump had secured 78% of the GOP vote, while Biden garnered over 89% of votes in the Democratic race.

The results are consistent with outcomes in other states, where both candidates have repeatedly netted the most votes en route to securing enough delegates to win their respective parties’ nominations.

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But despite Trump’s victory, the results show that not all Republicans are satisfied with the former president’s campaign for a second term in a state that Biden narrowly won in 2020.

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who dropped out of the Republican race two weeks ago, picked up about 19% of the GOP vote. Haley, like other Republicans, suspended her campaign after early voting had already begun in Arizona.

Still, Arizona Republican Party Chair Gina Swoboda described the night as a resounding victory for Trump.

“I think the results show that Arizona Republicans overwhelmingly support President Trump,” Swoboda told KJZZ. “I also think it’s clear that all the enthusiasm is on the Republican side of the aisle.”

As for Biden, the president’s Tuesday night victory was a marked improvement from four years ago, when only the Democrats held a vote to nominate a presidential candidate — Republicans opted to let then President Trump run for reelection unopposed.

In 2020, Biden collected 268,029 votes, accounting for roughly 44% of the vote. His primary challenger that year, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, won about 30% of the vote.

“Tonight’s results demonstrate the overwhelming support for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’s work building back our country and Arizona from the dire state left by Donald Trump,” Arizona Democratic Party Chairwoman Yolanda Bejarano said in a statement. “This year, we’re confident that our state will choose President Biden’s vision of unity and progress again.”

This year, Biden faced no prominent challengers on the campaign trail. But the president has faced a wave of protest votes, beginning in Michigan, from voters opposed to his handling of Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza.

In other states, voters have selected versions of “uncommitted” as a choice on their ballots, or cast their ballot for no candidate, to send a message to the president.

Arizona has no such option on the ballot, nor does the presidential preference allow for write-in candidates. So instead, a coalition of local activists calling for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza urged Democrats to vote for Marianne Williamson, who suspended her campaign in early February, but then resumed running later that month.

That effort appears to have had some minor success — Williamson has picked up about 3.5% of the vote, or nearly 14,000 votes, a substantial increase over the 668 votes she received in Arizona during her failed 2020 presidential campaign.

Yellow voter here sign in front of building
Mariah Temprendola/Cronkite News
The Burton Barr Central Library serves as a polling location for Arizona’s presidential preference election on March 19, 2024.

No voting issues

As Arizonans head to the polls Tuesday to nominate Republican and Democratic presidential candidates, there were no major issues reported.

"Happy to report that we don’t have any major issues across the state. We do know that there are some weather concerns in some regions, but at this stage, we haven’t heard any major reports of any problems," said Secretary of State Adrian Fontes on Tuesday morning.

Polls close at 7 p.m., and Fontes expects the first batch of results in Arizona’s Presidential Preference Election will be released about an hour later.

Turnout is likely to be low, given that President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump have already secured enough electors in other states to clinch their parties' nominations.

Woman stands and holds sign
Mariah Temprendola/Cronkite News
Jesse Goodsell volunteers at the Burton Barr Central Library polling location for the presidential preference election on March 19, 2024.

Woman in glasses and green sweater
Mariah Temprendola/Cronkite News
Denise Johnson, a retired teacher from Pennsylvania, votes in her first Arizona election on March 19, 2024, at Madison Church in Phoenix.

Woman in sunglasses gestures
Mariah Temprendola/Cronkite News
U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake, a Republican, casts her vote for former President Donald Trump in Arizona’s presidential preference election on March 19, 2024.

Get more Arizona politics news

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Listen to Votebeat reporter Jen Fifield talk about the election with The Show host Lauren Gilger