What's The Big Deal With Super Tuesday? How Today's Primaries Could Change the Democratic Nomination

It’s Super Tuesday, a critical election date that will determine how 1,357 Democratic delegates, more than a third of all delegates up for grabs, are awarded. Democratic candidates need to win 1,991 delegates to become the party’s presidential nominee. Just four candidates remain in the race, with only three of those candidates coming into Super Tuesday with any delegates to their names.

The North Star has broken down everything you need to know as Super Tuesday comes underway. The results of today’s primaries could significantly change the Democratic race.

Who Remains?

Two moderate and two progressive Democratic candidates remain in the race to face off against President Donald Trump in November.

The current delegate counts have Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) slightly ahead of former Vice President Joe Biden. Sanders, a progressive who ran against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination in 2016, has 60 delegates. Meanwhile, moderate Democrat Biden has 53 delegates.

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), another progressive, lags behind with just 8 delegates to her name ahead of Super Tuesday. Despite low delegate counts, Warren is still ahead of latecomer and recent Democrat, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The billionaire moderate has spent millions on his campaign but has not won a single Democratic delegate.

Last Minute Endorsements

Two Democrats suddenly ended their campaigns just before Super Tuesday and almost immediately released their endorsements for former Vice President Joe Biden.

Former South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg dropped out of the Democratic race on March 1, after suffering a humiliating defeat in the South Carolina primary. Buttigieg maintained poor support among Black Democrats, which signaled his inability to build enough voter support nationwide.

“The truth is that the path has narrowed to a close, for our candidacy if not for our cause,” Buttigieg said on Sunday, according to The New York Times. “Tonight I am making the difficult decision to suspend my campaign for the presidency.”

Buttigieg then spoke with Biden and former President Barack Obama that night, a Democratic official familiar with the conversations told The New York Times. While Biden asked Buttigieg for his endorsement, Obama reportedly did not specifically encourage Buttigieg to endorse Biden.

Twenty-four hours later, Buttigieg endorsed Biden during a rally in Dallas, Texas.

“When I ran for president we made it clear that the whole idea was about rallying the country together to defeat Donald Trump and to win the era for the values that we share,” Buttigieg said, according to CNN. “And that was always a goal that was much bigger than me becoming president and it is in the name of that very same goal that I am delighted to endorse and support Joe Biden for President.”

Biden also scored the instant endorsement of Senator Amy Klobuchar. The Minnesota senator, who won a strong third-place finish in New Hampshire, ended her presidential bid on March 2 and immediately endorsed her moderate rival.

“Today I am ending my campaign and endorsing Joe Biden for president,” she said at the Dallas rally, according to The New York Times. “He can bring our country together and build that coalition of our fired-up Democratic base as well as independents and moderate Republicans. We do not in our party want to just eke by a victory. We want to win big.”

Buttigieg and Klobuchar weren’t the only former candidates to lend their support for the former vice president. Former Representative Beto O’Rourke, who dropped out from the 2020 race in November 2019, endorsed Biden during a rally in Dallas on Monday.

“We need someone who can bring us together and heal us,” O’Rourke said at Biden’s rally, according to Axios. “We need Joe Biden.”

What States Are Voting?

Fourteen states and one territory are heading to the polls on Super Tuesday. Democratic voters living abroad will also start voting on March 3. Although Super Tuesday is a big election day, it is still fairly early in the primary process. Only four states—Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina—have cast their votes. Democratic primaries and caucuses are set to finish in June.

The following states are voting on Super Tuesday: Alabama (52), Arkansas (31), California (415), Colorado (67), Maine (24), Massachusetts (91), Minnesota (75), North Carolina (110), Oklahoma (37), Tennessee (64), Texas (228), Utah (29), Vermont (16) and Virginia (99). Democratic voters in American Samoa will also head to the polls to decide who wins their 6 delegates.

Meanwhile, Democrats Abroad will determine who will be awarded 13 delegates.

It’s important to know that Democrats do not have “winner-take-all states,” which means delegates will be awarded proportionally based on the results. Candidates must get at least 15 percent of the vote in any place to win the delegates there, Vox explained. If a candidate gets below 15 percent, then they don’t get any delegates.

Vox reported that candidates will get the percentage of delegates of viable votes. In other words, votes for candidates who have below 15 percent are excluded. Candidates’ percentage of whatever remains will determine how many delegates they get.

Super Tuesday could result in a number of outcomes, with at least four main possibilities. One candidate—say Sanders or Biden—could win a large delegate lead and be on track of the majority or a candidate could win a large delegate plurality in a split field without being on track for a majority. Another big possibility is that two candidates could split almost all the delegates and therefore narrow down the field to two. The last scenario could result in a contested convention if three or more candidates split delegates with no one on track for a majority.

Where to Vote

All states participating in Super Tuesday have polling place locators online that are quick and easy to use. HeadCount, a nonpartisan organization that uses music to register voters and promote participation in the democratic process, has a tool that allows people to enter their registered voting address to find out where to vote, what’s on the ballot and other vital information. The tool can be accessed here.

Vote.org also has a complete list of individual state polling place locators available here.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas.