By Kayla Robbins
Super Tuesday’s results are in, and while nothing is truly set in stone until July’s National Conventions, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have come out on top as this election’s current forerunners. On the Republican side, Trump championed 7 states, and gained 252 delegates, making his total 458 (runner-up Ted Cruz won in 3 states, and now has a total of 359 delegates).
While Bernie Sanders won in 4 states, he came out of Super Tuesday with just 571 delegates, which pales in comparison to Clinton’s total of 7 states and 1,221 delegates. Sanders and Clinton were close in the popular vote, but Clinton was singled out due to what are known as “superdelegates,” unique to the Democratic party, who can switch candidates to vote for whomever they choose.
Super Tuesday is a good time to stop, take a step back, and evaluate the ever-changing political landscape of this election cycle. Let’s take a closer look at why the “Super Tuesday” phenomenon even exists.
What’s so great about Super Tuesday?
This multi-state voting frenzy has been part of the election year calendar since 1984, with both Republicans and Democrats in a significant number of states organizing their primary voting on the same day in February or early March. It is structured this way in order to keep up voter engagement, and the drive and energy of candidates who do well in primaries and caucuses in the first four states- Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. Super Tuesday is also designed to have one candidate from each party emerge above the others as the presumptive nominee. The diverse states involved- from Alabama to Vermont, usually frame a pretty accurate picture of the front runner in each party, allowing that candidate the confidence and security to focus their attention and campaign money on the general election.
12 states, Democrats abroad, and the territory of American Samoa voted in Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses across the nation on March 1st.
More states cast their votes on Super Tuesday than on any other single day leading up to the general election. The results of Super Tuesday are often considered a turning point of a presidential election. They determine not only who gets to make vague claims about “momentum” and celebrate with staffers, but a fairly large number of delegates are handed out as well, which are the lifeblood of any presidential hopeful. This year, there were a total of 661 Republican delegates and 865 Democratic delegates up for grabs on Super Tuesday alone. Not exactly chump change when you consider the number of delegates needed to secure each nomination (1,237 and 2,382, respectively). That’s more than half of the delegates needed to claim a majority for Republicans and about a third of the number needed for Democrats.
At this point, the major players have become clear. On the Republican side there is Donald Trump and Ted Cruz leading, with Marco Rubio and John Kasich trailing behind. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders compete for the nomination. Several other contenders have entered the race but dropped out before Super Tuesday, including Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, Chris Christie, Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Martin O’Malley, Lincoln Chaffee, and Jim Webb. Despite the large number of candidates who have already dropped out, many experts say that the Republican race remains bloated and overcrowded, with votes being split between too many candidates.
At this stage of the game, it is not “winner-take-all.” For Democratic primaries, delegates are awarded proportionately with the amount of votes a candidate receives in a state. Republicans use more of a “winner-takes-most” system wherein delegates are distributed to candidates who secure a number of votes above a certain threshold, with the top candidate receiving a disproportionately larger amount of delegates. Each state makes its own rules on this, so the details can get a bit fuzzy for the casual observer.
Trump runs away with a shocking 319 delegates, while Cruz and Rubio struggle to keep pace.
While many votes have been cast, official results won’t be determined until summer. In this way, primary results are often significantly front-loaded, with states that vote earlier in the spring having a greater influence than those who vote later. Because of this, though, it is also easy to see trends emerging, and the candidates who come up on top during the March primaries frequently go on to secure their party’s official nomination, which is why the results from Super Tuesday are so important.
Clinton has earned 577 delegates excluding superdelegates who are free to change their minds, but are most likely to side with the popular vote.
Post Super Tuesday
Super Tuesday can give us a good look at where the candidates stand, and who will likely be representing each political party. More importantly though, it gives us a chance to consider our own position, what we believe, who we are supporting and why. This introspection will be crucial as we help choose who will potentially lead us as a nation for the next four years.
Since Super Tuesday Trump has won Hawaii, Michigan, and Minnesota with Cruz taking only Idaho. Democrats had only Michigan and Mississippi on the March 8th primary, with Bernie Sanders Winning Michigan and Hillary Clinton taking Mississippi.