Why is it a “super” Tuesday?
This year in the United States, March 1st is Super Tuesday, a key date in the primary elections of both the Republicans and Democrats. On this day, citizens in over a dozen US states and territories will cast their votes to choose delegates representing the candidates vying for their party’s nomination.
These delegates will in turn vote for their preferred presidential candidates during the Republican and Democratic conventions. The winning candidates will then face off against each other in the race for the White House.
The stakes are very high. According to CBSNews the Republicans have an opportunity to win about half of the 1,237 delegates needed for the nomination. On the Democratic side, 865 delegates are up for grabs, about a third of the amount needed to clinch the nomination.
Where are people voting?
Both parties will hold primary elections, or caucuses, in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia.
Republicans will also hold caususes in Alaska and North Dakota, and Wyoming. Democrats will also hold caususes in Colorado, and in American Samoa, a US territory.
The Colorado Republicans cancelled the caucus the state was set to organise on Super Tuesday after party leaders approved new rules requiring a state’s delegate to support the candidate that wins the caucus vote, according to local media. The Denver Post reports the 37 Republican delegates from Colorado are not pledged to any specific candidate.
What is the situation?
On the Republican side
Donald Trump is polling ahead in Virginia, Georgia, and Oklahoma among others.
His rivals need to win big in order to stay in the race.
Ted Cruz, who represents Texas in the US Senate, needs to crush Trump on his home patch to get a big share of the 155 delegates – the state works on a winner-takes-all system if a candidate gets the majority of the votes.
Marco Rubio’s campaign warned that a poor showing during Super Tuesday would mean an effective end to his run.
For Ohio governor John Kasich, Super Tuesday is only about weathering the storm until the Michigan primary on March 8 where he expects to win.
On the Democratic side
Hillary Clinton could also make a decisive step towards winning her party’s nomination. She is polling ahead of Bernie Sanders in Georgia, worth 102 delegates) and Texas (worth 222 delegates). These delegates will be distributed proportionally, but Clinton’s leads are so large, it could still represent a very large advantage over Sanders.
The senator from Vermont, who has been fighting an uphill battle against Clinton since the primary season started, needs to win big states if he wants to stay in the race. He is only leading in Vermont, a small state with just 26 delegates.
He also faces a race challenge: black voters have overwhelmingly voted for Hillary Clinton in South Carolina. A political analyst for FiveThirtyEight.com writes: “There are six Super Tuesday states (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia) where black voters made up a larger share of the electorate in 2008 than they did in Iowa, New Hampshire or Nevada this year. That Sanders couldn’t break through with black voters in either Nevada or South Carolina, despite a heavy investment, makes it difficult to believe he will have any more success in these six states, where his campaign hasn’t put in the same effort.” And 66 percent of the 865 delegates up for grabs on Super Tuesday come from these six states.
What does the overall situation look like now?