Super Tuesday, traditionally one of the most important dates on the American political calendar, is quickly approaching, although we can’t blame you if this year seems a little underwhelming, with both President Biden and former President Donald J. Trump pulling out all the stops. get ahead of the general elections.
Here’s what you need to know.
What is Super Tuesday?
It is the day of the presidential primary cycle when most states vote. The exact number varies by year, but it is common for one-third of all delegates to the Republican or Democratic conventions to be awarded on Super Tuesday.
This year, he will represent 874 of the 2,429 Republican delegates, or 36 percent. By the time Super Tuesday ends, 1,151 of the total will have been assigned this primary season. The New York Times is following the Republican delegate count here.
When is Super Tuesday?
This year it is Tuesday, March 5.
Super Tuesday occurs occasionally in February, but usually in March. Because it is one of the first primary days after those in states designated for early voting, such as Iowa and New Hampshire, the timing depends on the timing of those states.
Which states will vote?
This year, 15 states will vote on Super Tuesday: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia. One territory, American Samoa, will also vote.
We will also know the results of the Democratic race in Iowa, which is being held by mail for several weeks. (Iowa Republicans held their caucuses in mid-January.)
How important will it be this year?
That depends on how Nikki Haley does in South Carolina on February 24 and in Michigan on February 27.
If Haley wins, or comes very close to winning, in one or both states, Super Tuesday will be crucial to showing whether she can remain competitive with Trump on a national scale. Most states voting on Super Tuesday allow unaffiliated voters to participate in primaries, so there are at least theoretical opportunities for her to recreate the coalition that got her more than 40 percent in New Hampshire.
But if he loses decisively in South Carolina and Michigan, Trump will have chaired the caucus in early voting states. In that case, it will be difficult for Haley to argue that her candidacy is viable, and Trump could have the nomination pretty much wrapped up before Super Tuesday. He technically would not have the delegates necessary to get the nomination, but there would be no serious competitors left and the remaining votes would be academic.
On the Democratic side, there is nothing to indicate that the race is competitive. This is normal for the party whose main candidate is an incumbent running for re-election.
What is the history of Super Tuesday?
The term “Super Tuesday” has been around since the 1970s, but in its early days it was sometimes used to refer to the last major collection of primaries, not the first. according to the National Constitution Center. Its modern use was consolidated in the 1980s, when states moved their primaries forward on the calendar to try to increase their influence.
The change was driven by southern states who, after liberal Walter Mondale’s crushing general election defeat in 1984, wanted to have their say early enough in the process to push the Democratic Party toward a more conservative candidate in 1988.
It didn’t work. Sen. Al Gore of Tennessee split the Super Tuesday states with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and Gov. Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts won the party’s nomination.
But that result ended up being an exception. More often than not, since 1988, in both parties, a clear favorite has emerged from Super Tuesday and become the nominee.