Super Tuesday Breakdown

Super Tuesday was last week, which aside from sounding like a day for buying discounted mattresses is actually a huge night for presidential hopefuls. Super Tuesday is the night when 11 states (and American Samoa for Democrats) vote for their party nominations.

“Super Tuesday is always important because more states hold primaries or caucus on this date than any other day in the presidential primary campaign,” said Dan Tichenor, a professor of political science at the University of Oregon.

Primaries and caucuses determine how many delegates from each state are awarded to each candidate. State delegates, which are mostly elected officials who support a candidate based on their districts’ votes, are distributed in different ways depending on the state and party. It wouldn’t be democracy if it weren’t a bit complicated, right? Keeping it simple, just know that each candidate is aiming to win the most delegates in each state.

“Because of the sheer number of delegates at stake, [Super Tuesday] can be decisive for frontrunners or a game-changer for challengers,” Tichenor said.

Donald Trump won seven states and a total of 247 delegates on Tuesday. His biggest wins were in powerhouse southern states like Alabama and Georgia. Trump went on to win 2 out of four of the Super Saturday primaries just a few days later.

Senator Ted Cruz won three states, the biggest of which was his home state, Texas, which earned him a massive 102 delegates. Added to the points he picked up in other states, this pushed Cruz close to Trump’s Super Tuesday total with 214 delegates, making it still possible for him to close the gap with Trump if he keeps winning in the next primaries, particularly states with a greater number of delegates — like Texas. Cruz capitalized on this momentum from Super Tuesday to pick up big wins in Kansas and Maine on Saturday.

Senator Marco Rubio won Minnesota, but didn’t pick up substantial points in other states and came out with less than half of Cruz’s delegate total. Ben Carson (who has since dropped out) and Gov. John Kasich each won a handful of delegates but no states.

Things were more straightforward on the Democratic side. Hillary Clinton had a big Tuesday night, winning 486 delegates and dominating the South, particularly Texas’ 138 delegates and Georgia’s 70. She now has a more than 600 delegate lead over Senator Bernie Sanders.

Sanders picked up a few states like Colorado and Minnesota on Tuesday, but didn’t put up enough big points to narrow the gap with Clinton, totaling 321 delegates once results were in. He did manage to pick up some wins later in the week during Super Saturday.

So what happens now that half the delegates in the country are accounted for?

“For the Republicans, the process is winner-take-all after March 15,” said Tichenor. “Democrats will continue with a more proportional distribution of delegates, which means it will be a longer slog to the nomination.”

Oregon’s primary elections will be May 17.

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Troy Shinn

Troy Shinn

Politics News Reporter for the Oregon Daily Emerald. UO Senior studying Journalism and Film.