Super Tuesday

This article is about the primary election day. For the ESPN television series, see Super Tuesday (TV series). For elections, see Election Day (United States).
Republican and Democratic party ballots in a Massachusetts polling location, 2016
Republican and Democratic party ballots in a Massachusetts polling location, 2016
Sign for a polling station in Houston, Texas, 2016

In the United States, Super Tuesday, in general, refers informally to one or more Tuesdays early in a United States presidential primary season when the greatest number of U.S. states hold primary elections and caucuses. More delegates to the presidential nominating conventions can be won on Super Tuesday than on any other single day of the primary calendar. Since Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses are typically held in a large number of states from geographically and socially diverse regions of the country, it typically represents a presidential candidate's first test of national electability. Thus, candidates seeking the presidency traditionally must do well on this day to help secure their party's nomination. In fact, convincing wins in Super Tuesday primaries have usually propelled candidates to their party's nomination. Super Tuesday is in either February or March of the presidential election year. During the 2016 election year, Super Tuesday was held on March 1.

The particular states holding primaries on Super Tuesday have varied from year to year since each state decides separately. Some years have had more than one Super Tuesday. In 2008, Super Tuesday was February 5 when 24 states held primaries or caucuses on this date, with 52% of all pledged Democratic Party delegates and 49% of the total Republican Party delegates at stake.[1]

The phrase "Super Tuesday"[2] has been used to refer to presidential primary elections since at least 1976.[3] It is an unofficial term used by journalists and political pundits. In 2016, this date was also dubbed the "SEC Primary" since many of the participating states are represented in the Southeastern Conference (SEC), one of country's major collegiate athletic conferences.

Tuesday is the traditional day for elections in the United States, a prime example being Election Day in the United States.


United States politics are dominated by two major political parties, the Democratic and Republican parties, who choose their presidential candidates in nominating conventions attended by delegates from states. State law determines how each parties' delegates are chosen in that state including by either a primary election or a caucus and on what date those contests are held. State governments are free to choose whichever date they want for their states' primary or caucus. With the broadened use of the modern presidential primary system (following the chaotic 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago), states have tried to increase their influence in the nomination process. One tactic has been to create geographic blocs to encourage candidates to spend time in a region.

One motivation for the creation of Super Tuesday has been criticism and reform proposals of the current primary system many of which argue for creating a National Primary or a regional primary, such as the Rotating Regional Primary System adopted by the National Association of Secretaries of State in 1999, among other proposals.

1984: Beginnings of Super Tuesday

The 1984 primary season had three "Super Tuesdays".[4] Decided on "Super Tuesday III" were delegates from five states: South Dakota, New Mexico, West Virginia, California and New Jersey.[5] The proportional nature of delegate selection meant that Walter Mondale was likely to obtain enough delegates on that day to win the nomination at the 1984 Democratic National Convention, no matter who actually won the states contested. However, Gary Hart maintained that unpledged superdelegates that had previously announced support for Mondale would shift to his side if he swept the Super Tuesday III primary.[6] Once again, Hart committed a faux pas, insulting New Jersey shortly before the primary day. Campaigning in California, he remarked that while the "bad news" was that he and his wife Lee had to campaign separately, "[t]he good news for her is that she campaigns in California while I campaign in New Jersey." Compounding the problem, when his wife interjected that she "got to hold a koala bear", Hart replied that "I won't tell you what I got to hold: samples from a toxic waste dump."[6] While Hart won California, he lost New Jersey after leading in polls by as much as 15 points. Mondale secured the majority of delegates from the primaries, leading the way for him to take the Democratic nomination.[4] In the 1984 Republican Party primaries, incumbent President Ronald Reagan was the only candidate to secure delegates.[7]

1988: Southern states primary

The phrase "Super Tuesday" was next used to describe the primary elections that took place on March 9, 1988, in the Southern states of Texas, Florida, Tennessee, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama, and Georgia leading up to the 1988 November election. In the 1988 Democratic Party primaries, Southern Democrats came up with the idea of a regional primary in an effort to nominate a moderate candidate who would more closely represent their interests. However, Dick Gephardt, Jesse Jackson, Al Gore, and Michael Dukakis split the Super Tuesday primaries, and Dukakis was subsequently nominated. Meanwhile, George H.W. Bush secured most of the delegates in the 1988 Republican Party primaries. From 1996 to 2004, most of these Southern primaries were held the week after Super Tuesday, dubbed "Southern Tuesday" by news commentators.


In 1992, Super Tuesday was on March 10. After losing earlier primaries, Democrat Bill Clinton won a number of Southern primaries on Super Tuesday en route to winning the 1992 Democratic nomination and later the presidency. On the other hand, incumbent George H. W. Bush, faced opposition from Pat Buchanan in the Republican primaries that year.[8]

In 1996, Super Tuesday was on March 12. Bob Dole's swept Super Tuesday en route to his bid for the 1996 Republican nomination.[9] Clinton, the incumbent president, secured all the delegates in the 1996 Democratic primaries.[10]

In 2000, Super Tuesday was on March 7. Sixteen states held primaries on Super Tuesday, the largest presidential primary election day in U.S. history up to that point. In 2000, approximately 81% of Democratic delegates and 18% of Republican delegates needed to secure nomination were up for grabs on Super Tuesday. That year, Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush cemented their nomination bids with Super Tuesday victories, and both went on to win their parties' nominations.[11][12]

2004: Mini-Tuesday

Seven states held caucuses or primary elections on Mini-Tuesday in 2004. Blue denotes Democratic-only contests (4) and Purple represents states that held elections for both parties (3).
Main article: Mini-Tuesday
US Map
The states participating in primaries or caucuses on March 2, 2004.

In 2004, several states moved their presidential contests up to February 3, 2004 in order to increase the relative importance of their election results. Ultimately, five states held primaries and two held caucuses on this date, a date eventually christened Mini-Tuesday or, alternatively, Super Tuesday I by pundits, with the traditional March Super Tuesday date, March 2, christened Super Tuesday II, or just simply "Super Tuesday." While the results of Mini-Tuesday had far-reaching implications for the Democratic primaries, the Republican primaries were uncontested as incumbent President George W. Bush was the assured nominee.

Democratic primaries John Kerry John Edwards Wesley Clark Howard Dean Al Sharpton Joe Lieberman Dennis Kucinich
Number of states won on Mini-Tuesday 6 1 1 0 0 0 0
Number of delegates won on Mini-Tuesday 155 56 50 11 1 0 0


Twenty-four states held caucuses or primary elections on Super Tuesday, 2008. Blue denotes Democratic-only contests (3), Red illustrates Republican-only contests (2), and Purple represents states holding elections for both parties (19). Notes: American Samoa (not shown) is Democratic only.

To increase importance of their votes, 24 states with over half the delegates to the national conventions moved to change their primary dates to February 5, 2008, creating the largest "Super Tuesday" to date. Newswriters and political pundits noted that it would dwarf the Super Tuesday primaries in previous cycles.[13] Because of its political magnitude, some pundits have variously dubbed it "Giga Tuesday," "Mega Giga Tuesday," "Tsunami Tuesday" or even "Super Duper Tuesday."[13]

With only four states holding elections on the year's other Super Tuesday of March 5, 2008, one pundit said "this year, however, Super Tuesday isn't so super."[14]

Four states held caucuses or primary elections on Super Tuesday II, 2008. Purple represents contests for both parties (4).
Democratic primaries Hillary Clinton Barack Obama
Number of states won on Super Tuesday 10 13
Number of delegates won on Super Tuesday 834 847
Republican primaries John McCain Mitt Romney Mike Huckabee Ron Paul
Number of states won on Super Tuesday 9 7 5 0
Number of delegates won on Super Tuesday 511 176 147 10


Main article: Super Tuesday, 2012
Super Tuesday states in 2012

Super Tuesday in 2012 took place on March 6, 2012, totaling 419 delegates (18.3% of the total) in 10 states in the Republican primaries.[15] The Democratic primaries were uncontested as incumbent President Barack Obama was the assured nominee.

The impact of Super Tuesday was lessened by Mitt Romney's convincing victories preceding Super Tuesday. Frontrunner Romney was able to increase his lead significantly, with wins in six states and winning over half the delegates at stake. However, Santorum's three wins, and a near-win in Ohio, allowed him to carry on as a candidate for another month.

Republican primaries Mitt Romney Rick Santorum Newt Gingrich Ron Paul
Number of states won on Super Tuesday 6 3 1 0
Number of delegates won on Super Tuesday (OH 4 unalloc.) 225 89 80 21


Super Tuesday I

Super Tuesday by states and territories, 2016
Super Tuesday 2016 (Republican Party, results)
Super Tuesday 2016 (Democratic Party, results)

Super Tuesday in the 2016 presidential election was held on March 1, 2016. This date was dubbed the SEC Primary, since many of the participating states were represented in the U.S. Southeastern Conference for college athletics (five southern states).[16][17]

The participating states included Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado (with caucuses), Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota (with caucuses), Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia. Additionally, Republican caucuses were held in Alaska, North Dakota, and Wyoming.[17][18] The territory of American Samoa held a Democratic caucus.[18]

The Republican candidates could win about half of the 1,237 delegates needed. The two remaining Democrats were after 880 delegates, roughly one-third of those needed to win. The number of delegates from Texas is much greater than the other states: 155 for Republicans and 252 for Democrats.

The Democratic primaries and caucuses concluded with Bernie Sanders winning Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Vermont; and Hillary Clinton winning Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. Clinton received 486 delegates, while Sanders received 321.[19]

The Republican primaries and caucuses concluded with Donald Trump winning Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia; Ted Cruz winning Alaska, Oklahoma, and Texas; and Marco Rubio winning Minnesota. John Kasich and Ben Carson were also in the election, but neither won any states. Results from the North Dakota and Wyoming caucuses are yet to be determined, though their delegates are not required to support the winners of those contests and can freely pledge to their preferred candidate during their respective state party conventions.

Democratic primaries[20] Hillary Clinton Bernie Sanders
Number of states won on Super Tuesday 7 4
Number of delegates won on Super Tuesday 486 321
Republican primaries[21] Donald Trump Ted Cruz Marco Rubio John Kasich Ben Carson
Number of states won on Super Tuesday 7 3 1 0 0
Number of delegates won on Super Tuesday 256 219 101 21 3

Additionally, several third-party primaries were held on March 1. The Libertarian Party hosted its caucus in Minnesota, which was won by Gary Johnson. The Green Party of the United States hosted two contests, a primary in Massachusetts and a caucus in Minnesota, both of which were won by Jill Stein.

Super Saturday

Super Saturday Democratic results
Super Saturday Republican results

Owing to a number of states holding their primaries or caucuses on Saturday, March 5, 2016, the date was referred to in the media as "Super Saturday" in reference to Super Tuesday. Kansas had caucuses for both parties. Louisiana had a primary for both parties. Maine and Kentucky held caucuses for Republicans. Nebraska Democrats caucused on Super Saturday.[22][23][24] There were 155 delegates at stake for Republicans and 109 delegates available for Democrats.

Ted Cruz was first to be declared a winner of a state, with a firm lead in Kansas and just over half of the votes in, as well as winning in Maine. Donald Trump meanwhile, won the states of Kentucky and Louisiana.[23]

Super Tuesday II

Super Tuesday II Democratic results
Super Tuesday II Republican results

March 15, 2016 was dubbed Super Tuesday II,[25][26][27] Mega Tuesday,[28] or the Ides of March Primaries.[29]

On this day, 5 states held both Democratic and Republican primaries: Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio. Republican caucuses were also held in the Northern Marianas Islands. The Republican races were particularly significant as four of these (excepting the North Carolina primary) were the first in the cycle to use winner-takes-all voting systems. Republican contests held prior to March 14 were only permitted to use proportional systems. There were 697 delegates at stake for Democrats and 358 delegates for Republicans.

Some media sources instead referred to the contests on March 8 as Super Tuesday II,[30] where 2 states held Democratic contests and 4 states held Republican contests, and referred to the March 15 contests as Super Tuesday III.[31]

Democratic primaries Hillary Clinton Bernie Sanders
Number of states won on Super Tuesday II 5 0
Number of delegates won on Super Tuesday II 347 246
Republican primaries Donald Trump John Kasich Ted Cruz Marco Rubio
Number of contests won on Super Tuesday II 5 1 0 0
Number of delegates won on Super Tuesday II 229 81 51 6

Acela Primaries

On April 26, 2016, five Northeastern primaries were contested by both parties (Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island) and were collectively termed the Acela primaries or the Amtrak primaries in reference to the Acela Express, which runs through the area. It was alternately referred to as Super Tuesday III.[32][33]

Democratic primaries Hillary Clinton Bernie Sanders
Number of states won in Acela Primaries 4 1
Number of delegates won in Acela Primaries 217 167
Republican primaries Donald Trump John Kasich Ted Cruz
Number of contests won in Acela Primaries 5 0 0
Number of delegates won in Acela Primaries 111 2 5

Super Tuesday IV

On June 7, 2016 both the Democrats and the Republicans will hold primaries and caucuses in California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota. With the exception of the North Dakota Democratic caucus, all of the aforementioned contests on Jun 7th will be primaries.

694 delegates will be awarded in the Democratic primaries and caucuses. 303 delegates will be awarded in the Republican primaries.

The Republican primaries will be the last contests of the entire Republican Party party primary process. The Democratic contests will be succeeded by only the District of Columbia Democratic primary, which will be held a week later.

Additionally, several third-party primaries are scheduled to be held on Jun 7. The Libertarian Party will host its primary in California. The Green Party of the United States will host its primaries in California and the District of Columbia. California will additionally hold primaries for the American Independent Party and the Peace and Freedom Party.

See also


  1. Balz, Dan (January 15, 2008). "Feb. 5 Primaries to Pose A Super Test of Strategy". Washington Post. Retrieved March 6, 2012.
  2. "Why Do We Vote On Tuesday?". Retrieved March 6, 2012.
  3. "Ford, Carter head into crucial Super Tuesday". Lodi News-Sentinel. June 3, 1976. Retrieved March 6, 2012.
  4. 1 2 Ed Magnuson (June 18, 1984). "Over the Top, Barely". Time. Retrieved March 6, 2012.
  5. George J. Church (June 4, 1984). "A Big Bicoastal Finale". Time. Retrieved March 6, 2012.
  6. 1 2 Evan Thomas (June 11, 1984). "Last Call, and Out Reeling". Time. Retrieved March 6, 2012.
  7. "US President - R Primaries Race - Feb 20, 1984". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2015-08-25.
  8. "Our Campaigns - US President - R Primaries Race - Feb 01, 1992".
  9. David Leip. "1996 Republican Primary Election Timeline".
  10. "US President - D Primaries - 1996". Our Retrieved 2008-03-10.
  11. David Leip. "2000 Presidential Democratic Primary Election Results".
  12. David Leip. "2000 Republican Primary Election Timeline".
  13. 1 2 Schneider, Bill (February 7, 2007). "It could all be over after 'Super Duper Tuesday'". CNN. Retrieved March 6, 2012.
  14. Skolnick, David (December 30, 2007). "One Valley state legislator tried unsuccessfully to move the Ohio primary to February". The Vindicator. Youngstown, Ohio. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
  15. "Election 101: What's the Republican primary calendar for 2012?". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved March 6, 2012.
  16. Johnson, Jenna (May 23, 2015). "As 'SEC primary' takes shape, will presidential contenders show up?". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 28, 2015. ...[Georgia Secretary of State Brian P.] Kemp spearheads an effort to have a half-dozen or more Southern states hold their primaries on March 1 — right on the heels of the first-in-the-nation contests in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Kemp calls it the 'SEC primary,' a nod to the collegiate Southeastern Conference...
  17. 1 2 Miller, Zeke J. (October 2, 2015). "EXCLUSIVE: TIME Guide to Official 2016 Republican Nomination Calendar". Time. Retrieved November 17, 2015.
  18. 1 2 "Super Tuesday 2016: What you need to know". Retrieved February 28, 2016.
  19. HuffPostPolitics. "2016 Election: Super Tuesday – The Huffington Post". The Huffington Post.
  20. "Super Tuesday Results". New York Times.
  21. "Live coverage of Super Saturday primary states (3/6/16) with exit polls, results, winners". Retrieved 2016-03-06.
  22. 1 2 DelReal, Jose A. (2016-03-05). "Ted Cruz wins Kansas caucuses, gains momentum on 'Super Saturday'". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2016-03-06.
  23. "Super Saturday Results". CNN. Retrieved 2016-03-06.
  24. "Super Tuesday II: Clinton sweeps Florida, Illinois, Ohio and North Carolina; Rubio quits after Trump wins Florida". The Washington Post. March 16, 2016. Retrieved March 16, 2016.
  25. "Super Tuesday II: Five states head to the polls". The Los Angeles Times. March 16, 2016. Retrieved March 16, 2016.
  26. "US election 2016: Winners and losers on Super Tuesday II". BBC. March 16, 2016. Retrieved March 16, 2016.
  27. "Here's What You Need To Know About The March 15 'Mega Tuesday' Contests". March 11, 2016.
  28. "The Ides of March Primaries". USA Today. April 26, 2016. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  29. Bradner, Eric (March 8, 2016). "What to watch on Super Tuesday 2". CNN. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
  30. Bradner, Eric (March 14, 2016). "Your guide to Super Tuesday 3". CNN. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
  31. LoBianco, Tom (April 25, 2016). "Republican Party braces ahead of critical 'Acela primary'". CNN. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  32. Fox News Editors (April 27, 2016). "Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Win Big on Super Tuesday III". Fox News Channel. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
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