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The presidential primary season winds down and voters look ahead to November

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Believe it or not, we are still in primary season. Voters in four states and the District of Columbia cast their ballots for a presidential nominee yesterday.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

New Jersey, New Mexico, Montana, South Dakota and the District of Columbia are some of the last to have their say in this year's presidential nominating calendar. All that remains are Democratic caucuses for president, a few days from now, in Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

MARTÍNEZ: All right. Here to recap a busy day, with a look ahead to November, is NPR politics reporter Ben Giles, who joins us from Albuquerque. Ben, it's been clear now who the presumptive Democratic and Republican nominees are going to be, so then what did we learn from these remaining presidential primaries?

BEN GILES, BYLINE: Well, we're still seeing evidence of how dissatisfied voters are with their choices for president. In states like New Mexico and New Jersey yesterday, approximately 9% of voters chose uncommitted on Democratic primary ballots, rather than support President Joe Biden's reelection. Here in New Mexico, Biden garnered just about 84% of the vote. As for former President Donald Trump, he too lost about 16% of the votes combined here in New Mexico to candidates who've long since dropped out of the race, like Nikki Haley and Chris Christie. There were also some GOP voters who chose uncommitted on their ballots, too.

What'll be telling is how those unsatisfied voters turn around and cast their votes in November. Even though both Biden and Trump have won their parties' nominations, they're really going to win or lose in November on the margins. Now, I should say the margins might not matter as much in states like New Mexico, which is pretty blue, but it's something I'll be keeping an eye on when I get back to Arizona, where Biden only won by less than 11,000 votes four years ago.

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah. And you've been reporting a lot from swing states, including Arizona this year. You're in New Mexico now - lovely state, not considered a swing state, though, so what have you learned in the few days that you've been there?

GILES: Sure. Well, the politics at play in New Mexico - they're still largely reflective of the arguments being made for and against Biden and Trump at the national level, and New Mexico shouldn't be overlooked. There are pivotal races here for the U.S. House and Senate that could help determine control of those chambers. In those races, you'll see Republicans attacking Democrats over immigration - this is, after all, a border state - and Democrats, for better or worse, will try to tie their opponents' fates to Trump. They'll also be campaigning on defending access to abortions, with promises to help codify that right in federal law, and there's also demographics at play. In this majority-minority state, GOP and Democratic candidates alike will be trying to win over Latino voters.

MARTÍNEZ: All right. So now that the Tuesday dust has settled, what are the down-ballot races to watch?

GILES: Well, let's go to New Jersey, where representative Andy Kim won the state's Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. -That's according to a race call by the Associated Press. Kim launched a campaign shortly after New Jersey's incumbent senator, Bob Menendez, was for the second time indicted on corruption charges. Menendez has refused to step down and, this week, filed to run for reelection as an independent.

Then there's another U.S. Senate race in Montana, where Democrat Jon Tester is literally the last man standing among Democrats. He's the only Democrat to hold statewide office there, but his race for a fourth term in the U.S. Senate is considered a toss-up, given how deeply red that state is. Republican leaders are backing Tim Sheehy, a retired Navy Seal, who won the GOP nomination.

MARTÍNEZ: That is NPR's Ben Giles, reporting from Albuquerque. Ben, thanks.

GILES: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

A Martínez
A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.
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