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Super Tuesday explained: What is it, and why does it matter?


On March 5, voters in 16 states and one U.S. territory will choose their preferred candidates in the election race.

Importance of Super Tuesday

The day is known as Super Tuesday because several states will simultaneously tally the votes from caucuses or primaries, an election to select candidates to appear on the general election ballot, on that day.

States holding primary elections that conclude on March 5 are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia.

Democrats in the U.S. territory of American Samoa will also be caucusing, and Democrats in Iowa will release the results of their presidential preference caucus, NPR reported.

This year's Super Tuesday will decide the allocation of 874 Republican delegate votes, representing approximately 36 percent of the total delegate pool. Meanwhile, a third of Democratic delegate votes will be decided that day.

Historically, Super Tuesday winners are highly likely to become their parties' nominee for the final presidential race.

In 2020, as the incumbent president, Donald Trump did not face a serious challenge in his party and secured the most votes on Super Tuesday. Meanwhile, Biden came from behind and beat left-wing senator Bernie Sanders, winning 9 out of 14 states on Super Tuesday, paving his way to become the Democratic nominee.

What to watch

Notably, Trump's federal election interference trial is scheduled to begin on March 4, a day before Super Tuesday, but primary results suggest that the trials have not impacted his support among Republicans.

Former governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley is Trump's last challenger. She just won the Washington, D.C., Republican primary on Sunday, her first victory in the nomination process.

Haley, 52, has vowed to stay in the contest until at least March 5.

Asked whether she saw Super Tuesday as her "last stand," she told NBC News that she is looking instead for a "good, competitive showing."

"You keep going to make sure people have a choice," she said. "That's what this is all about."

The incumbent president, Biden, faces no threat from other Democrats, though more than 100,000 Democratic primary voters chose "uncommitted" rather than Biden in Michigan. "Uncommitted" won two of Michigan's delegates, the only delegates Biden has lost so far.

Critics are dissatisfied with Biden's handling of the crisis in Gaza, especially his support for selling weapons to the Israelis.

The U.S. presidential primaries, extending through June, precede the Republican National Convention in July, where the party's presidential nominee is officially selected by delegates, followed by the Democratic National Convention in August. Election day falls on November 5.

(Cover: A voter fills out his ballot for the Michigan primary election in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, U.S., February 27, 2024. /CFP)

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