Dubai: Americans across 14 states, from sparsely populated Maine to the progressive California, will vote in the primaries on Tuesday to select a Democrat who will face President Donald Trump in November’s election.
Four of the country’s 50 states have already voted, but Super Tuesday is the biggest day of the entire presidential primary process, with tens of millions of Americans eligible to cast ballots. It could be a turning point when frontrunner Bernie Sanders secures an insurmountable lead - or former vice-president Joe Biden could mount a dramatic comeback.
Here’s what you should know about Super Tuesday.
What is Super Tuesday?
It is the day when most US states hold nominating contests, most voters have a chance to go to the polls, and the most delegates will be allotted to candidates. More than a third of all delegates for the Democratic National Convention are up for grabs on Tuesday.
1357delegates up for grabs on Super Tuesday
Each state is allotted a certain number of delegates based on a formula of population and weight in the Democratic Party.
In order to win the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, a candidate must secure 1,991 delegates out of a total of 3,979 pledged delegates at the convention.
Why is Super Tuesday important?
In total, 1,357 pledged delegates will be at stake on Super Tuesday, which is about 34 per cent of the total number of delegates that will be allocated during the primary and caucus season. In short, it has the potential to propel one candidate to frontrunner status. California has the most pledged delegates (494) followed by Texas (261), North Carolina (72) and Virginia (65).
1991delegates needed out of 3,979 to secure Democratic presidential nomination
This year, Super Tuesday is even more important because California moved its primary up to March 3. It had been voting in June, at the tail end of the nominating process when there’s typically less at stake.
No one can win the nomination on Tuesday alone, but doing well can get you a long way toward winning the magic number of 1,357 delegates.
What happens at the convention?
The party’s top contender will be formally nominated at the Democratic National Convention, set for July 13-16 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
If no candidate wins a majority-plus-one during the primary race, the pledged delegates become free to vote for another candidate on the convention’s second ballot. In addition, some 771 “super-delegates” - party committee officials and leaders, along with Democratic members of Congress - will be eligible to vote on the second ballot.
Which states will vote on Super Tuesday?
Fourteen states — Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Vermont. American Samoa will hold a caucus as well. Democrats abroad will cast their votes on the same day. Polls close at various times beginning at 7pm eastern time and extend until 11pm.
Who is contesting?
The number of candidates seeking the US Democratic presidential nomination dropped to six (from more than 20) on Sunday as former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg quit the race.
The Republican choice will almost certainly be President Donald Trump, who has overwhelmingly won the first two contests.
The US senator from Vermont is making a second attempt at the presidency and secured a position as front-runner after the first nominating contests. Sanders won New Hampshire and Nevada, finished a close second in Iowa to Buttigieg and well behind Joe Biden in South Carolina.
As in his first presidential run in 2016, Sanders, 78, has campaigned as a self-described democratic socialist who seeks nothing less than a political revolution. Sanders, who has focused on government-run universal healthcare, has led the field in terms total campaign contributions.
Biden, vice-president under President Barack Obama, built his candidacy on the argument that his more than 40 years in elected office makes him best suited to take over from Trump. Biden finished second in Nevada and a decisive first in South Carolina.
At 77, questions persist about his age and his moderate brand of politics, which progressives contend is out of step with the leftward shift of the party.
Media mogul and former New York City Mayor Bloomberg, 77, announced his candidacy only in November. He is also skipping early voting states, focusing on the larger ones such as California, Florida and Texas that vote on Super Tuesday and beyond.
Ranked by Forbes as the eighth-richest American with an estimated worth of $53.4 billion, he served as mayor of New York from 2002 to 2013. Bloomberg has poured hundreds of millions of dollars of his own wealth into trying to win the nomination.
The 70-year-old US senator from Massachusetts saw her standing in opinion polls skyrocket and then fade in the months leading up to the early primary contests. A fierce critic of Wall Street, she has based her campaign on a populist anti-corruption message and argues the country needs “big, structural change.” Warren contends that she is the best candidate to unite the party’s warring moderate and progressive factions.
The US senator from Minnesota has built her campaign by presenting herself as a pragmatic alternative to the likes of Sanders and Warren and charming voters with a self-effacing sense of humour. She focused much of her early campaign on winning Iowa, where she finished fifth.
The Samoan-American congresswoman from Hawaii is the first Hindu to serve in the US House of Representatives and has centered her campaign on her anti-war stance. Despite finishing in all four early primary states near the bottom of the heap, Gabbard, 38, an Iraq war veteran, has vowed to continue to campaign. Gabbard’s populist, anti-war approach has won her fans among both the far left and the far right.
Trump is the clear favorite to win the Republican nomination, and there has been criticism among his opponents that party leadership has worked to make it impossible for a challenger. Still, the incumbent will face a rival on the ballot.
His campaign mounted a show of force in Iowa, where the incumbent won every caucus. In New Hampshire, Trump won 86% of the Republican vote.
Trump is focusing his re-election message on the strong economy, while continuing the anti-immigration rhetoric that characterized his first campaign.
The 74-year-old former Massachusetts governor ran unsuccessfully for vice president in 2016 as a Libertarian. He has been a persistent critic of Trump, saying when he began his 2020 campaign that “the American people are being ignored and our nation is suffering.” Weld finished a distant second in New Hampshire, receiving 9 per cent of the vote.
- with inputs from agencies