News / USA

    Super Tuesday Is Biggest Day in Democratic, Republican Presidential Primaries

    FILE - An election official holds a role of stickers at a polling place in West Columbia, S.C., Feb. 20, 2016. Republican and Democratic presidential candidates compete in primaries and caucuses in least 11states and one U.S. territory Tuesday.
    FILE - An election official holds a role of stickers at a polling place in West Columbia, S.C., Feb. 20, 2016. Republican and Democratic presidential candidates compete in primaries and caucuses in least 11states and one U.S. territory Tuesday.

    What is Super Tuesday?

    Super Tuesday is March 1, the day when Democrats and Republicans each compete in primaries and caucuses in at least 11 states and one U.S. territory for presidential nominations.

    Voters across the United States select their candidates on different days leading up to their party's convention in July. This Tuesday is called Super Tuesday because it is the day with the most nominating contests on the campaign calendar.

    Who votes?

    Primaries for Republican and Democratic voters are held in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia.

    Caucus votes are held for Republicans in Alaska and Wyoming.
    Democrats in American Samoa, a U.S. territory, and Democrats living abroad also get to vote on Tuesday.

    FILE - A voter checks in with workers at a polling station in Kershaw, S.C., Feb. 27, 2016. Democrats and Republicans compete in primaries and caucuses in at least 11 states and one U.S. territory Tuesday.
    FILE - A voter checks in with workers at a polling station in Kershaw, S.C., Feb. 27, 2016. Democrats and Republicans compete in primaries and caucuses in at least 11 states and one U.S. territory Tuesday.

    Why is it so important?

    Super Tuesday votes account for about one quarter of all delegates to be awarded during the primary elections. It’s the single biggest day of voting in terms of the number of delegates awarded to the candidates.

    Why do candidates want to win delegates – not states?

    Candidates win by amassing a specific number of delegates who will nominate them at their party’s convention later this year. For the Democrats, that number is 2,383 delegates. For the Republicans, the number is 1,237 delegates.

    By law, all Super Tuesday states have to allocate their delegates proportionally. Candidates can still win delegates even if they don’t win the state.

    Candidates try to win states because it looks good to the media and voters but ultimately all that matters is winning enough delegates to secure the party nomination.

    Why is it called the SEC primary?

    The term is actually a reference to American sports. Many of the states holding votes on Tuesday have college football teams that play in the Southeastern Conference (SEC); however, some of the other states voting Tuesday don’t have any connection to that organization and it has no official political meaning.

    FILE - An electronic voting machine in Columbus, Ohio, Nov. 3, 2015. Democrats and Republicans compete in primaries and caucuses in at least 11 states and one U.S. territory on Tuesday.
    FILE - An electronic voting machine in Columbus, Ohio, Nov. 3, 2015. Democrats and Republicans compete in primaries and caucuses in at least 11 states and one U.S. territory on Tuesday.

    How will Super Tuesday change the Republican presidential race?

    There are still five candidates in the Republican field – the more delegates that are awarded, the more it will become mathematically difficult for some candidates to secure the nomination. A number of candidates who trailed far behind the leaders have already dropped out. It is possible others will do so after the March 1 voting.

    “For Republicans who are not happy at the prospect of a (billionaire and Republican front-runner Donald) Trump nomination, there’s still a little bit of time left but the clock is still ticking,” said William Galston, a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution.

    Super Tuesday is a chance for Trump’s challengers to win primary states – and the delegates that come with those wins. The more delegates they win, the more they can challenge Trump for the nomination.

    How will it change the Democratic race?

    So far, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has won the South Carolina primary and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has won the New Hampshire primary. Sanders came close to beating Clinton in Iowa and Nevada.

    The large number of delegates awarded could give an enormous amount of momentum to one of the candidates in this two-person race.

    Which states are important to watch?

    Texas is a key battleground, with the Southern state awarding the highest number of delegates among the states voting on Tuesday.

    For the Republicans, some polls show Senator Ted Cruz winning his home state. Other polls show him in a close race with Donald Trump.

    “I want to see who wins Texas because I think that will tell us a lot about the future of the party and what happens with Ted Cruz,” said John Feehery, a Republican strategist.

    For the Democrats, look for Clinton to do well in Southern states with a large percentage of African-American voters. Sanders is expected to win his home state of Vermont on Tuesday.

    FILE - Voters wait in line to cast their ballots in Greenville, S.C., Feb. 20, 2016. Democrats and Republicans compete in primaries and caucuses in at least 11 states and one U.S. territory Tuesday.
    FILE - Voters wait in line to cast their ballots in Greenville, S.C., Feb. 20, 2016. Democrats and Republicans compete in primaries and caucuses in at least 11 states and one U.S. territory Tuesday.

    What comes next?

    A handful of states hold primary and caucus votes on March 5 and 6.

    Another major round of voting takes place March 8 and and 15 with contests awarding large numbers of delegates.

    Many Republicans are looking to this round to see who is still in the race and could challenge front-runner Donald Trump.

    Florida Senator Marco Rubio has to “stay alive until the middle of March, at which point Ohio, Illinois, Florida primaries take place. A couple of those are winner-take-all primaries with a lot of delegates at stake,” said political analyst Stu Rothenberg.

    On the Democratic side, Sanders could benefit from a geographic shift in voting.

    “Once we get out of states where African-Americans constitute 35, 40, 45 percent of the Democratic primary vote, Bernie Sanders will be better off,” Rothenberg said.


    Katherine Gypson

    Katherine Gypson is a reporter for VOA’s News Center in Washington, D.C.  Prior to joining VOA in 2013, Katherine produced documentary and public affairs programming in Afghanistan, Tunisia and Turkey. She also produced and co-wrote a 12-episode road-trip series for Pakistani television exploring the United States during the 2012 presidential election. She holds a Master’s degree in Journalism from American University. Follow her @kgyp

    You May Like

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora