US primaries: What happens on Super Tuesday?


As of: March 5, 2024 2:33 p.m

On Super Tuesday, Democrats and Republicans will vote on candidates for the presidential nomination in more than a dozen US states. Is it then clear who will run for which party? The most important questions and answers.

How many states have primaries?

On Super Tuesday, Democrats and Republicans in 15 states will vote on who they want to send as candidates in the November presidential election. This includes the most populous US states, California and Texas. Voting will also take place in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont and Virginia. In Alaska, only Republicans vote on their candidate.

For the Democrats, written voting in Iowa ends on Tuesday. The US territory of Samoa is a special case. Voters can vote on the candidates here. However, they are not entitled to vote in the presidential election itself.

Why are so many states voting at the same time?

The idea of ​​Super Tuesday goes back to the 1980s and a directional dispute within the Democratic Party. In 1988, the moderate wing of the party wanted to strengthen their influence by combining the primaries in several states and ensure that a candidate close to them received a decisive boost. This has worked sometimes better and sometimes worse over the years. Things went wrong in 1988 – back then, Michael Dukakis, who was considered to be on the left wing, won Super Tuesday and the candidacy, only to lose significantly in the presidential election to George W. Bush.

Four years later, the calculation paid off – Bill Clinton emerged victorious from Super Tuesday and became US President in November.

How many Delegate votes will be assigned?

The importance of Super Tuesday is also reflected in the delegate votes that are awarded on this day. The Republicans will elect 874 delegates for the election party conference in the summer – that’s 36 percent of all. The number of Democratic delegates at stake on Super Tuesday is even larger – 1,421, a share of around 38 percent.

When will we know how the votes turned out?

The first results are not expected to be available until early Wednesday morning German time. Voting takes place in states across the country, so in multiple time zones. The first polling stations on the east coast close at 7 p.m. local time, i.e. at 1 a.m. on Wednesday night according to German time. The last polling stations on the west coast in California close early Wednesday morning at 5 a.m. according to German time. In California, it is likely to take a particularly long time until the final results are known: There, voting by postal vote is valid even if it has the postmark from election day and is received by the responsible authorities no later than seven days later.

Is it already clear who the candidates will be?

In purely mathematical terms, not – because the candidates Biden and Trump, who have been the clear leaders so far, will not have all the votes necessary for a majority even after Super Tuesday, regardless of the outcome.

Trump has 273 votes so far and would have 1,147 if he wins all the delegate votes. This would mean that he would be within sight of the majority, but would still remain below the minimum number of 1,215 delegates required for him. Hardly anyone is currently questioning the fact that Trump will achieve this majority. Given his numerous legal problems and the age debate in the USA that also affects him, it is unclear whether this will inevitably result in a candidacy and possibly a victory in November.

The starting position for Biden is similarly good. He has so far won all 206 delegates up for grabs and has to collect at least 1,968 delegate votes at the party conference – in the best case scenario he will have 1,591 delegates after Super Tuesday. His nomination is already considered a foregone conclusion.

However, the public repeatedly asks questions about the 81-year-old’s resilience. Should there be a second round of voting – for example in the event of Biden’s unexpected withdrawal – a candidate would need at least 2,337 votes. Biden’s opponents Dean Phillips and Marianne Williamson have not yet been able to win a delegate and are considered to have no chance at all, even if Biden does not end up running for election.

And what about Nikki Haley?

Trump’s former UN ambassador has so far stuck to her candidacy despite a barely catchable gap to Trump. She was able to win 43 delegate votes and most recently was successful in the primary election in the capital Washington. But that was just her only success so far. On the other hand, Haley couldn’t even win her home state of South Carolina, where she was once governor. Haley points to polls that show a majority of Americans are dissatisfied with candidates Trump and Biden, and as long as that is the case, she will remain in the race.

Whether she continues after Super Tuesday will probably be not least a question of money. After the devastating defeat in South Carolina, the arch-conservative billionaire and Trump opponent Charles Koch announced that he would no longer support her election campaign. If Haley were to stop her campaign, she would only be able to do so in the sense of an interruption. That would give her the opportunity to get back in if, for example, Trump stumbles over his legal problems before the election.

What happens next?

The primaries run for different lengths of time for Democrats and Republicans – for the Republicans until May 21st, then elections will take place in Kentucky and Oregon. Trump could get the necessary number of votes as early as next week – then elections will take place in the states of Georgia, Hawaii, Mississippi and Washington. And if it’s still not enough, there should be clarity by March 19th at the latest – then elections will take place in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kansas and Ohio.

For the Democrats, the primary election will last until June – on June 8th. is elected in the Virgin Islands and Guam. Biden is expected to take part in the primaries on March 12th. (in the states of Georgia, Mississippi, Washington and among US citizens abroad) are close to a majority, but still a few delegate votes away from it. He will then be able to get the delegates he is missing on March 19th. enter – then voting will also take place in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kansas and Ohio.

The presidential candidates will be chosen at the nomination party conventions in the summer.

Ralf Borchard, ARD Washington, tagesschau, March 5th, 2024 6:48 a.m

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