PHOENIX — In 2020, there is no question that Tuesday, November 3 is the most important election day of the year. There Is another Tuesday held much earlier that, for Democrats vying for the chance to take on President Donald Trump is nearly as important.
It’s called Super Tuesday, and it’s going on right now.
Super Tuesday is an election day that is typically held in either late February or early March and it is called “Super” because the largest collection of states hold their primary elections on that day, giving candidates the opportunity to collect the largest amount of delegates, those electors needed to win the party’s nomination at the national convention, of any other day in the primary election cycle. The tradition began in 1988, when a group of southern states all held their primary on the same day in order to give more clout to the region. Today, there is no longer a regional component to Super Tuesday, but the clout of the day certainly remains.
This year the states up for grabs are California, Texas, North Carolina, Virginia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Colorado, Tennessee, Alabama, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Utah, Maine, Vermont, and America Samoa.
Here is a breakdown of what to watch for tonight as results begin pouring in:
California – 415 Delegates
California is the biggest electoral prize of the night. It is also the state that will take the longest to complete its results due to its use of same-day voter registration and allowing mail in ballots to be post-marked on election day. Bernie Sanders is currently favored to win a majority of the state’s delegates, though Vice President Joe Biden has been aggressively surging in last minute polling.
The most important thing to watch out for in the Golden State however is the performance of Elizabeth Warren and Michael Bloomberg. If either or both of these candidates can get over the 15% vote threshold that the Democratic National Committee has determined is required to received delegates from a state, they will deny much needed space between Sanders and Biden that is needed to present a contested convention this summer.
Texas – 228 Delegates
The Lone Star state is typically not one that Democrats spend much time in during a general election, although some polling has indicated that it may be up for grabs this year, it is nonetheless a big prize in the primary. Bernie Sanders was originally forecast to win the state narrowly because of his performance among Hispanics in Nevada earlier this month, however Joe Biden’s slam dunk of South Carolina on Saturday has drastically the playbook since the state’s Democratic party also has a large African American component. This could be one of the tightest races of the night so buckle in for the long haul if you plan on seeing election night through to the end.
Like California, Warren and Bloomberg have both polled above 15% here in the past so their performance here will matter greatly to the overall delegate victories.
North Carolina, Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee – 356 Delegates
The remaining southern states that make up Super Tuesday all have African American populations that are higher than the national average. This very formidable voting bloc single handedly resuscitated Joe Biden’s presidential aspirations in South Carolina and there is little evidence that African American’s in these states will move away from Biden tonight. Expect sizeable victories for him over his chief rival Sanders. Biden may also run up the delegate count here as Warren has shown some weakness and may not make the 15% threshold.
Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont – 131 Delegates
The New England states have been reliable Sanders territory from the beginning. The Democratic party’s coalition in the northeast is driven largely by college educated whites, which have been shown in to be more likely to back Sanders. The question for the Vermont Senator will be if he can run up the delegate count in the same manner that Biden can in the South. Elizabeth Warren may also still play a spoiler here as well, especially in her home state of Massachusetts.
Minnesota, Colorado, Oklahoma, Utah, American Samoa – 214 Delegates
The remaining Super Tuesday states are more of a mixed bag for both Sanders and Biden. Biden is expected to do well in Oklahoma and American Samoa, and Sanders in Colorado, Minnesota and Utah.
Amy Klobuchar’s performance in her home state of Minnesota will be important to watch tonight. She was expected to carry the state as recently as yesterday until she unexpectedly suspended her campaign and endorsed Vice President Joe Biden. Demographically, the state is more friendly to Sanders so the impact of her endorsement will be put to the test.
Additionally, Colorado, another state typically friendly to Sanders, is an all ballot-by-mail state. Like Arizona, the election day in Colorado resembles more of an election month so last minutes changes to which candidates are in the race will have a much smaller effect on the state.
The first polls close at 7 p.m EST tonight, 5 p.m. local time. Expect results shortly afterwards.