Yesterday was Super Tuesday; the most important event of the 2016 US Presidential election cycle so far. So what happened on Super Tuesday and how will the ramifications of this game-changing day ripple through the contest going forward?
State of play
Prior to Super Tuesday, both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party held primaries and caucuses in four states, to determine who would be their standard-bearer in the general election. On the Democratic side former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won three states, while US Senator for the State of Vermont Bernie Sanders won one.
On the Republican side, New York billionaire Donald Trump has been leading the race to become the party’s nominee. Riding a wave of anti-establishment sentiment that’s also fuelling Sanders’ campaign, Trump won three of the Republican primaries and caucuses held before Super Tuesday. US Senator for the State of Texas Ted Cruz clinched victory in the Republican Iowa caucus.
So going into Super Tuesday, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump held the advantage. But Super Tuesday can change everything. Usually held in early March, this is the day on which the largest number of primaries and caucuses in a Presidential election cycle are held.
Super Tuesday was held on 1st March. According to the BBC, 12 states held primaries and caucuses on Super Tuesday. Both parties held contests in Massachusetts, Vermont, Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Minnesota. Meanwhile, the Republicans had their Alaska primary and the Democrats put on their Colorado caucus.
Therefore, around a fifth of Democratic delegates and just under a quarter of Republican delegates were up for grabs on Super Tuesday! Delegates are the people who vote at the national party conventions, which will be held later this year, to officially determine who both parties choose to run as their candidate in the general Presidential election.
So who won on Super Tuesday? Hillary Clinton was the big winner on the Democratic side; she triumphed in seven states. Bernie Sanders took the remaining four. As for the Republicans, Trump managed to come out on top in seven states. Cruz won in three states, while Minnesota went to US Senator for the State of Florida Marco Rubio.
What does this mean in terms of delegates? Up until this point, the primaries and caucuses haven’t been ‘winner-takes-all.’ The delegates from states that held their primaries or caucuses before or on Super Tuesday were divided up between candidates based on their share of the vote. Democrats need to earn the vote of 2,383 delegates to become their party’s nominee, while Republicans need to win the votes of at least 1,237 delegates.
First, the Democrats. After Super Tuesday, Hillary Clinton now has 1,034 delegates while Bernie Sanders has 408. Now the Republicans; Trump has 319 delegates, Cruz has 226 and Rubio has 110. Therefore, Super Tuesday was a phenomenal day for Clinton and Trump. Both politicians are now the clear front-runners to become their party’s candidate for the general election.
So Super Tuesday was the day where clear front-runners emerged. However, neither Clinton nor Trump yet has a strong enough lead to earn their party’s nomination without a fight. The majority of states still have to hold their primaries and caucuses, while the ‘winner-takes-all’ contests haven’t even started. Sanders or Cruz could still surprise us all and become their party’s eventual nominee.