Tomorrow on the 1st of March 2016, the Primary Election process goes into its most decisive day yet, Super Tuesday. But what is Super Tuesday? Which states are involved? What is its history and which candidates will emerge from this day as winners? On Super Tuesday 2016, both the Democrats and Republicans will have their primaries in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia. (See the map above.) Furthermore, both parties will also hold caucuses that will be held in Alaska (R), American Samoa (D), Colorado (D), Minnesota (D+R) and Wyoming (R). Consequently, this day will have a huge impact with so many states choosing their favorite nominees on the same day.

The concept of Super Tuesday began in the 1980s, when three southern states (Alabama, Florida and Georgia) decided to have their primaries on the same day and by 1988 it had grown to 21 states. However, it has since averaged around 10-15 states. Today, Super Tuesday still consists of mostly southern states, it provides the constituencies in these states with some extra electoral power as candidates must cater to the voters in these states, since this day often decides who gets the nomination. In fact, Super Tuesday has with few exceptions brought the races for the party nominations to a virtual stop, meaning everyone except candidate who had the best Super Tuesday withdrew from the race. Hence, the only remaining candidate after Super Tuesday would win the nomination. Even in those exceptions where the fight for the nomination has continued beyond Super Tuesday, the eventual winner has still done good on Super Tuesday. This was the case in both the 2008 and 2012 Republican Elections, when John McCain and Mitt Romney (pictured below) both won most delegates on Super Tuesday, but still had to fight in a few more states before winning the nomination. Thus, historically, Super Tuesday has been the most decisive day in the US Primary Elections since the 80s.

The questions that remains, then, are who will perform best in these states on Super Tuesday in 2016 and what can the consequences be? In the Democratic race, only two candidates are left, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. After a promising start, where Sanders established himself not as an outsider but as a serious contender, his momentum has faded a bit following defeats in Nevada and South Carolina. To add to that misery, most of the states in Super Tuesday are similar to those two states. Thus, Sanders might win a couple of states or more, but Clinton is the favorite in most of the states on deciding Super Tuesday. However, a defeat on Super Tuesday might not necessarily mean that Sanders withdraws from the race, he has gained a lot of support and, thus, also a lot of campaign contributions. This means he can afford to continue his campaign through late-March where states in which he is the favorite will have their primaries. On the other hand, the Clinton campaign will hope to achieve such a huge victory on Super Tuesday that would cause Sanders’ campaign to lose hope, so Clinton can claim the nomination as early as possible and concentrate on the General Election in November.

In the Republican race, there are five candidates left. However, two of them are not considered to have any chances to win the nomination and will probably just hope to do well in a state or two and then suspend their candidacy. These two are John Kasich and Ben Carson, the former might stay in the race to see how well he does in the northern states though. The leading candidate, Donald Trump, is also the favorite in most of the states according to the polls and he will hope to get rid of one or both of his rivals for the nomination, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. While it is likely that the field will diminish to these three following Super Tuesday, it will be interesting to see if Cruz and Rubio will be able to stay in the race or they will follow Carson and Kasich out. With some great results on Super Tuesday, Trump can take a giant leap towards the Republican nomination and it will be up to Cruz, whose home state Texas and its many delegates are on the line, and Rubio, the only establishment candidate among the three, to challenge him. But no matter what happens, everyone will be a lot wiser on the matter after March 1st…

(Photo credit: WikimediaDonkeyHotey)