Super Tuesday is here: but what does that mean?

Super Tuesday is here: but what does that mean?

The US election season is watched by people from all around the world, from the entertaining adverts attacking various candidates to the excitement of the delegate count in each state, hoping that your preferred candidate comes out on top, there’s something for everyone, but not everyone has a full understanding of how the US political system works.

That’s why we’ve decided to write this article which explains the US primary system, more specifically Super Tuesday and its importance in the contest.


The primaries are elections held in every state and territory by the major political parties in the United States, which are the Democratic party and the Republican party. The purpose of these elections is to select which candidate will be chosen to contest the presidential election in November. Delegates are awarded to each candidate proportionally in each state.

The winning candidate needs a majority of 1,991 in order to become their party's chosen candidate. Should no candidate win this amount, then super delegates would come into play, these are individuals who can use their vote to tip the election in favour of their preferred candidate, but they can only do this in the event of a tie.

There are two types of primary contests in the US, a caucus and a traditional primary. A traditional primary requires no party membership and anyone is able to vote for their preferred candidate. In some states, people can vote early through postal voting slips, but not every state signs up for this. The other method in which people vote is called a caucus, which is a closed vote and does require the voters to be a registered member of their preferred party.



Amongst problems with the release and use of an app, voters being utterly confused and the counting of results taking far longer than expected, the Democratic party failed to announce a winner for the Iowa primary for almost two weeks. Eventually Pete Buttigeig and Bernie Sanders were declared as joint winners, Bernie winning the popular vote and Pete being awarded the most delegates. It was a blow for Joe Biden, who was expected to come out of the gates running and came out with 15% of the vote barely qualifying for the delegate split. Elizabeth Warren finished in third place, taking 18% of the vote and 8 delegates.


New Hampshire was better in terms of organisation and a winner was announced fairly quickly after voting closed, but the state failed to show a clear front runner. Bernie Sanders was announced the winner as Pete Buttigeig took home the same number of delegates, meaning neither candidate could be shown as the front runner and the field remained fairly splintered amongst progressives and moderates. Warren continued her momentum, finishing in third place again and keeping on pace to retain her place in the next contest.


Nevada has long been one of the early states to vote and is often referred to as “the first state in the west,” due to its geographical location. Its close proximity to California, Oregon and Washington means that it shares some of their progressive ideologies. This favoured Senator Bernie Sanders far more than it favoured any of the other candidates and he came out of Nevada with a huge victory taking home 24 delegates and 48% of the vote.


South Carolina should be considered important since it is only state to have voted so far with a large African American population, it’s also the first state to vote in the south. Somewhere, the trend needed to be bucked and Biden’s comeback had to look like it was back on track. That’s where South Carolina came in, handing Joe Biden a big victory with 35 delegates and 48% of the vote. It should be noted, however, that South Carolina rarely shapes the outcome of the primaries and bar highlighting what candidates need to do in order to connect with African American voters, doesn’t matter too much since its delegate pool is fairly low.


Put simply, it’s the busiest day of the primary season. In total 14 states vote in their primaries. The states that will vote this year on super Tuesday are: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia. 14 states is a big number and should any one candidate win a majority of the states on Tuesday then they will have gained a huge lead, possibly one that would be insurmountable.

The most likely outcome is that Bernie Sanders will increase his thin lead into a large and positive one. There are a number of reasons that this is the most likely outcome, but the main reason is that the states with big numbers of delegates have shifted to more progressive positions. Delegates are generally higher in states with a higher population, meaning California, New York and Texas are in reality, the most important states at this stage, two of which are voting on super Tuesday.


California is the USA’s most populous state and historically the west coast has taken a far more liberal stance than “middle” America. The golden state, nicknamed due to the gold rush in the early 1900’s and not after the bountiful sunshine, contrary to popular belief. Traditionally, California voted much later in the process and often didn’t really have much of a say in the process as a whole, which considering it is the most populated state in the US, seems a tad unfair really. Recent polls coming out show that Sanders is carrying a lead of around 20% in the state, which although not perfect, is still considerably higher than it’s been in the other contests, minus Nevada. There is a clear path emerging which is the battle between the progressives and the moderates.

The field is still split on both sides, with Sanders, Gabbard and Warren splitting the progressives and Biden, Steyer and Bloomberg splitting the moderates. It’s difficult to say exactly what will happen but California would be a good indicator. It’s also the state that’s fairly representative of Americans as a whole, being home to a large amount of Hispanic voters, a demographic which has proved that it puts Sanders at the the top of their voting ladder. There are other candidates in the field, but it's fairly unlikely that any of them will qualify for the 15% margin and delegate distribution.

There’s going to be a lot of information to digest and after the results come out and it’s bound to be a long night. This is a big test for the Democratic party themselves after the chaos of Iowa, not just for the candidates themselves.


Well, bear in mind that there are a lot of results to be counted and delegates to be assigned. It gets even more complicated when you consider the size of the country and the fact that California and Vermont are voting on the same day, meaning the time zones could pose a problem for the announcement of results. There are over 1000 delegates to be claimed so, all in all, it’s bound to be a very long night and we’re unlikely to know the results in full until the next day (4th March) around midday (GMT).

What do you think about the primary system, are you interested? Which candidate do you think would be best for the United States? You can talk about all of these things with your language exchange partners, and ask the about what they think too.

Written by: Jordan Benyon, Staff Writer