What to know about Super Tuesday and why it is important


It’s almost Super Tuesday when voters in 16 states and one territory will cast their ballots in the 2024 presidential primaries.

Here’s why the day is important and why it looks a little different this year.

What is Super Tuesday?

Traditionally, it is the most important day nationally for primaries and caucuses before Election Day in November. So far, only one or two states have held primaries or caucuses on the same day.

This Tuesday, voters in 16 different states and one territory (get it? “Super” Tuesday) will choose who they want to run for president. Some states are also choosing who should run for governor or senator for their state, and so are some district attorneys.

Just as Thanksgiving is usually the fourth Thursday in November, Super Tuesday is almost always the first Tuesday in March.

What happens on Super Tuesday?

Democrats and Republicans vote on who they want to run for president and other offices. And then once those votes are counted, the delegates are awarded.

Delegates, by the way, are people chosen to represent their community at their political party’s presidential nominating convention. They are the ones who actually select the candidate who will represent their party in the November elections.

Candidates need to win a majority of them to obtain their party’s nomination. And no other date has more delegates at stake than Super Tuesday.

On the Republican side, 854 of 2,429 delegates (more than 35%) are at stake. About 36%, or 1,420 delegates, are at stake for Democrats.

No one will become the presumptive candidate after Tuesday’s primary. But President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are expected to reach out.

Why is this Super Tuesday different?

Typically, it is an important issue that can make or break a candidate.

For example, in 2020, Biden was basically excluded from the race after poor results in the first primaries. He then won the South Carolina primary. A few days later, he made a quick and surprising comeback on Super Tuesday that really surprised everyone. He led the board and won 10 of the 14 states. Other candidates dropped out of the race after their victories. And you know what happened after that.

But that was then. This year there are not many chances of surprise. Biden is the incumbent and the Democrats’ only major candidate. He faces only token opposition. On the Republican side, Donald Trump has won almost every primary so far and is expected to win big on Tuesday as well.

Is it a foregone conclusion?

Spoiler alert! Don’t read on if you want to be surprised by Tuesday’s potential winners.

We already know that Biden and Trump are the favorites. So it looks like that trend will continue.

There is always the possibility of an upset. Nikki Haley is still in the race to be the Republican presidential candidate and won the District of Columbia primary. But she faces tough races in states where she has struggled to gain support. So she’s not okay with him. Biden is far ahead of his Democratic rivals Dean Phillips and Marianne Williamson.

But even if we think we know what will happen, neither Trump nor Biden will yet be able to claim the title of “presumptive candidate.” The earliest that could happen is March 12 for Trump and March 19 for Biden.

Are there any important state races to watch on Super Tuesday?

The highest-profile statewide race in California is the one succeeding the late Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who died last fall.

There is a crowded field of candidates that includes Democratic Reps. Barbara Lee, Katie Porter and Adam Schiff and Republican Steve Garvey, a former baseball star.

It’s a little confusing, though: There are two primaries on the ballot to replace Feinstein. One is to fill the remaining months of his current term and the other is for a full six-year term beginning in January 2025.

Please note that California has a “top two” primary system in which all candidates appear on the same ballot regardless of party, and the top two finishers advance to the general election.

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