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Monday, February 29, 2016

Super Tuesday

Super Tuesday is when the primary fighting gets serious.  In the combined four early primaries and caucuses, there were 186 delegates up for grabs among the Democrats and 133 for the Republicans. On Super Tuesday, that one day will award 997 delegates for the Democrats and 665 for the Republicans

Super Tuesday started to become a thing in 1980, although there were some references to it dating from the 1976 campaign.  After the primaries started to become important after the 1968 and 1972 Party reforms, States quickly realized that being early was especially important.  By the time a quarter of the States had voted, a nominee was often pretty much selected or at least well on his way. Late primaries became virtually meaningless.

To prevent States from continually moving earlier and extending the primary season, parties began to put limits on how early a State could hold a primary or caucus.  As a result, many States wanted to be at the very beginning of the party sanctioned time period.  A number of southern States thought they could have more say if they all held their primaries on the same day, on the first Tuesday within the time permitted by the parties.  That is how Super Tuesday was born.

Some people call Super Tuesday the SEC Primary because most of the southern states voting on that day are part of the SEC (Southeastern Conference) of college sports teams.

It is very unusual for there not to be a candidate who is going to be the clear winner after Super Tuesday.  Under Republican rules, States holding primaries or caucuses prior to March 15 must award delegates on a proportional basis.  This means that every candidate that meets a basic threshold will be awarded delegates, with the exact number dependent on the percentage of the vote won.  So winners of early states often don't get many more delegates than the losers.  After March 15, States move to a winner take all model.  Winning a State by even one vote has big consequences for obtaining delegates.  This allows a front runner to obtain a majority more quickly.

By contrast, the Democrats required awarding proportional delegates through the whole process, as long as a candidate meets a certain threshold, usually 15%.  This tends to draw out the fight longer for the Democrats, as it did in 2008 when the delegates remained closely divided between Obama and Clinton until almost the very end of the season.

Below is a list of Super Tuesday Primaries and caucuses.  An open primary is one where anyone from any party can vote in either primary.  A closed primary is one where only registered members of a party can vote.  Mixed usually means that independents can vote in either primary, but registered members of one party cannot vote in the other.

  • Alabama 60 D, 50 R Open
  • Alaska caucus (R) 28 Closed
  • American Samoa caucus (D) 10 Open
  • Arkansas 37 D, 40 R Open
  • Colorado caucus 79 D, 37 R Closed
  • Democrats Abroad (Vote March 1 - 8) 17
  • Georgia 116 D, 76 R Open
  • Massachusetts 116 D, 42 R Mixed
  • Minnesota caucus 93 D, 38 R Open
  • North Dakota caucus (R) 28 Closed
  • Oklahoma 42 D, 43 R Closed
  • Tennessee 76 D, 58 R Open
  • Texas 252 D, 155 R Open
  • Vermont 26 D, 16 R Open
  • Virginia 110 D, 49 R Open
  • Wyoming caucus (R) 29 Closed
As much as my readers enjoy me going on interminably about the details, I'm not going to handicap each individual State race this time.  I will say that the majority of votes tend to be in southern States, which usually tends to benefit conservative candidates in both parties.  Because Super Tuesday is such a large and disparate grouping, it tends to benefit the more well financed and organized campaigns.  The retail politics that work in small early states does not translate well into a larger race. TV and other advertising becomes more important, as does free mass media from debates and news pieces.

Clinton and Trump remain the respective favorites, although both seem to draw high negative numbers even within their own parties. Cruz remains a solid second even though, like Trump, he also tends to draw high negatives.  Cruz may win his home State of Texas, which may keep his campaign alive for a while.  Cruz's  and Trump's high negatives mean few people opposing Trump or Cruz now will move to their camps as other candidates drop away.

Now that Jeb Bush is out, the question for many is where his voters go.  Rubio seems to be the establishment favorite at the moment.  However, a failure to win any Super Tuesday State may cause his "winnability" to be questioned, especially with polls showing him losing his home State of Florida to Trump two weeks later.

Kasich's strategy becomes more difficult as he tends to do worse in Southern Primaries.  If Kasich does not win or at least beat Rubio in some of the non-Southern States (Col. Mass. Minn. N.D., Ver.) he will have to call it quits.  Even if he wins a couple of Stats, at best, he is a long shot compromise candidate at a divided convetion, very unlikely,

Carson also remains in the race but not sure why.   His few supporters are the few that may move to Trump in significant numbers  when his campaign ends.

For the Democrats, the two person race simplifies things.  In 2008, Clinton and Obama split Super Tuesday pretty evenly.  Sanders will need to win the States that rejected Clinton in 2008 in order to show he has staying power.  I don't think that is realistic, meaning Super Tuesday may bring an end to the Sanders Campaign.

1 comment:

  1. At this point, Clinton and Trump seem inevitable. Trump is not fit for the office of the Presidency, and I do not trust Clinton at all. The upcoming election poses a tremendous quandary for me.