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Biden and Trump have secured enough delegates to be their parties’ likely nominees. What does that mean?

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump have officially secured enough delegates to be considered their parties’ presumptive nominees.

By MEG KINNARD (Associated Press)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump have officially achieved the necessary numbers of delegates to be seen as their parties’ expected nominees.

This was expected. Biden didn’t face much competition in the Democratic primary. Trump faced some high-profile Republicans, but none came close to challenging him during his third run as the Republican candidate.

Here is a look at what that means, what has changed, and what still needs to happen before Biden and Trump can become their parties’ official standard-bearers without the “presumptive” label:

The Associated Press only uses the “presumptive nominee” title when a candidate has gathered the necessary delegates to win a majority vote at the national party convention this summer. For Republicans, that number is 1,215 this year. For Democrats, it’s 1,968.

This basically ends the presidential primary season, though both Biden and Trump have been mainly focusing on each other for months already.

Sort of.

Typically, the national Democratic and Republican parties start directly coordinating with their presumptive nominees once their status is clear, although there have been exceptions.

Recently, the Republican National Committee brought in new leadership chosen by Trump, with a new chairman, co-chair, and party chief of staff. Trump’s selected leaders then moved to dismiss dozens of RNC staff.

After Trump won both the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary — but still faced GOP opponents — an RNC member who is a longtime Trump ally suggested a resolution that would have allowed the party to consider him its “presumptive nominee” and enabled some of that coordination to begin earlier.

Trump actually spoke out against the measure — although he said it likely would have succeeded — which was ultimately withdrawn.

As for the Democratic National Committee, Biden is the unofficial leader of the party, although any official leadership changes have to go through structured channels. During the 2020 campaign, the DNC reshuffled its leadership and entered into a joint fundraising agreement with Biden in April, even though he didn’t secure the Democratic nomination until June.

A presidential candidate doesn’t officially become the Republican or Democratic nominee until winning the vote on the floor of the nominating convention, which takes place this summer. Delegates’ casting of votes is mostly a ceremonial procedure, but it hasn’t always been this way.

Decades ago, presidential candidates might have run in primaries and caucuses, but the eventual nominees weren’t known until delegates and party bosses negotiated at the conventions.


Meg Kinnard can be reached at

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