Explained: What is Super Tuesday, what US states are voting and why is it important?
Super Tuesday is the biggest day of the Democratic primary campaign. Fourteen states will vote on which Democrat they want to run in November's election. Bernie Sanders is in the lead after the early contests.
Voters across America are set to participate in Super Tuesday – one of the most important milestones in the race to see who will take on Donald Trump to become the next President of the United States. Super Tuesday is the term used to refer to the date on which the greatest number of states in the US hold primary voting for the presidential election.
Super Tuesday is not a fixed date from one election term cycle to the next. Depending on how the various states set up their primary election schedule, the timing of participation and the states holding primary voting on Super Tuesday can vary significantly.
Fourteen states – California (for the first time), Texas, Virginia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Vermont, Colorado, Utah, North Carolina and Maine – as well as American Samoa and Democrats living abroad will vote on which Democrat they want to run in November’s election. (The primary for expatriate Americans is scheduled to run through March 10.)
Why Super Tuesday is important?
There are three reasons why Super Tuesday is crucial -- It is when the most US states hold contests to pick a presidential nominee; where the most people get to cast their ballot, and where the highest number of delegates will be allotted to candidates.
More than a third (34%) of all delegates for the Democratic National Convention are up for grabs. On Super Tuesday 1,357 delegates will be awarded. One needs 1,991 to get the nomination.
Bernie Sanders, a senator from Vermont, is in the lead after the early contests. By Wednesday, we could have a clearer picture of who the nominee will be.
What has happened so far?
The race for President has had a very crowded field -- with a sprawling battle between moderate and progressive candidates. But with Vice President Joe Biden's sudden surge in South Carolina (due to large support from African Americans of all ages), former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg; Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and Billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer dropped out of the presidential race. It apparently appears to be a bid to unite and strengthen Biden’s challenge to the liberal front-runner Sanders.
The battle to take on Trump now seems to be between Sanders and Biden. The former Vice President will be hoping to garner much needed votes from his rivals, turned endorsers. But Biden’s campaign still faces an uphill battle against Sanders.
Bernie Sanders vs Joe Biden
Sanders has proven extremely popular in the primaries so far across many age groups and ethnicities, and all the momentum is on his side. As in his first presidential run in 2016, Sanders, 78, has campaigned as an unapologetic, self-described democratic socialist who seeks nothing less than a political revolution.
Sanders, whose signature issue is government-run universal healthcare, has proven to be a fundraising powerhouse, leading the field in terms of total campaign contributions.
A run of victories for Sanders in states like California, Texas and Minnesota have the potential to fundamentally alter the identity of a party he has for decades sought to remake according to his own vision. But if Biden can pull together voters, especially suburban moderates, Sanders' position would be dramatically weakened -- and his campaign's early promise put in doubt, CNN reported.
Super Tuesday also marks the first time the billionaire Mike Bloomberg will appear on the ballot. Despite two poor debates and Biden’s surge, the former New York Mayor has shown no signs of leaving the race, having invested $500m of his personal fortune.
Bloomberg has bought a three-minute primetime advertising slot to be broadcast on two TV stations on Sunday, where he will make a presidential style address.
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who hasn’t won — or even challenged for the lead — in any of the first four states, is vowing to press on to a contested convention. The former schoolteacher-turned-Harvard-professor finished fifth in Saturday’s South Carolina primary, was third in Iowa, fourth in Nevada and New Hampshire, which neighbours her home state. Despite the disappointing finish, Warren’s campaign has said they still have a path to nomination.
Tulsi Gabbard, the Samoan-American congresswoman from Hawaii, is the first Hindu to serve in the US House of Representatives. She has centred her campaign on her anti-war stance. Despite finishing in all four early primary states near the bottom of the heap, Gabbard, an Iraq war veteran, has vowed to continue to campaign. Her populist, anti-war approach has won her fans among both the far left and the far right.