Super Tuesday, often referred to as the SEC primary, is the highlight of the caucus and primary season. More delegates to United States presidential nominating conventions can be won on Super Tuesday than on any other single day of the primary calendar. Candidates who do well traditionally have either strongly contended or won the nomination for their party. Candidates who perform poorly usually drop out of the race, as they have neither the delegates, momentum, or donors to continue.
This year’s Super Tuesday is projected to be just as unpredictable as this year’s election cycle has been. Whatever the results end up being, however, the impact will be tremendous. On the Democratic side, there are 880 delegates at stake, roughly one third of the delegates needed to win the nomination. On the Republican side the stakes are even greater with 595 delegates at stake, nearly half of the total delegates. The participating states include Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado (with caucuses), Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota (with caucuses), Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia. Republican only caucuses are also being held in Alaska and Wyoming. The single Democratic only caucus is being held in the territory of American Samoa.
On the Democratic side, polling reveals that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has increased the distance between herself and the once surging Senator Bernie Sanders. Sanders potentially, however, is within striking distance of Clinton in a few states. While Clinton is expected to win Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia handily, several northern states project as much closer races. Colorado, Massachusetts, and Minnesota are viewed as certainly winnable for Sanders despite Clinton’s statistical lead. These states combined with Sander’s home state of Vermont, a virtually guaranteed win, mean that a successful Super Tuesday could provide fuel for a Sanders resurgence, energizing his loyal supporters.
On the Republican side, businessman Donald Trump has maintained a strong lead in most states despite his increasingly controversial rhetoric and the winnowing the field of candidates, both factors many pundits guaranteed would lead to Trump’s demise. Polling data suggests that Trump will win all states except for Texas, the home state of Senator Ted Cruz. Texas is the largest state of the primary day with 155 delegates up for grabs, and the projected win will allow the Cruz campaign to continue onward strongly. Some states such as Arkansas and Minnesota do project as closer races where either Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz hope to sneak away with. Struggling candidates John Kasich and Ben Carson are not considered in competition to win any states, and are seen to be both searching for a spark to their campaigns. Super Tuesday overall will have a much larger impact on the Republican Party than the distribution of delegates however. With the three man race between Rubio, Cruz, and Trump heating up, the GOP electorate has become heavily fractured between extreme conservatives supporting Cruz, moderate establishment Republicans supporting Rubio, and frustrated anti-establishment voters supporting Trump. The results of Super Tuesday will likely push one of these three forward towards the nomination, creating an interesting situation where the majority of Republicans will are currently not supporting the eventual nominee, whoever it turns out to be.
Super Tuesday in this most interesting election year will be a potential juncture in the future of our country. It is very possible that the results on Tuesday catapult Bernie Sanders to the nomination, a self described socialist, whose views do not align with the sense of individualism held by the American population throughout history. Furthermore, it’s also very possible that Donald Trump will cruise to the nomination if he has a successful Super Tuesday. Trump’s tone and rhetoric are unprecedented for any candidate in recent memory, and his political vision has the potential to shift the direction of our nation. Entering Super Tuesday, candidates on both sides will be crossing their fingers that they impress and gather the valuable momentum forward that this day provides.
(Copyright 2016 Sam Hamway)