Super Tuesday States 2016: High Stakes for Both Parties

Marco Rubio rally, Super Tuesday states, which states vote on Super Tuesday

Marco Rubio, shown here at a rally in Nevada, is one of several candidates who needs a strong showing on Super Tuesday. (Getty)

Super Tuesday takes place on March 1, 2016. The day’s voting is also known as the SEC Primary because of the prevalence of Southern states, several of which have moved their primaries to Super Tuesday after having them on different, less prominent days in 2012. (Click here for a Super Tuesday 2016 polling roundup.)

The lineup of Super Tuesday states is slightly different for Republicans and Democrats.

Here’s a rundown of the states voting:

States Voting on Super Tuesday 2016

Alabama D/R
Alaska R
American Samoa D
Arkansas D/R
Colorado D/R
Georgia D/R
Massachusetts D/R
Minnesota D/R
Oklahoma D/R
Tennessee D/R
Texas D/R
Vermont D/R
Virginia D/R
Democrats abroad D

(Notes: States marked D/R have nominating contests in both parties. States marked only R or only D have a nominating contest in only one party. The Colorado Republican caucus is non-binding, meaning the state can award its delegates however it sees fit, regardless of the caucus results. Wyoming Republicans have a long nominating process that starts with precinct caucuses on Super Tuesday, but doesn’t wrap up until the state party convention in April. The Green Papers website has a good rundown of the process. )

What’s at Stake for Both Parties on Super Tuesday

The day is of massive importance in both parties. There are 595 delegates at stake on the Republican side (24 percent of the 2,472 total delegates throughout the country) and 1,004 delegates at stake on the Democratic side (21 percent of the 4,763 delegates to the convention.)

On the Democratic side, Super Tuesday could be the day that Hillary Clinton puts Bernie Sanders in the rearview mirror once and for all. Clinton leads Sanders in polls of 10 of the 12 states voting between March 1 and March 8, potentially allowing her to reverse Sanders’ momentum while building a massive lead in delegates. (Clinton is also heavily favored to win the South Carolina primary on Saturday.)

On the Republican side, Super Tuesday is likely to winnow the field in one way or another. The extent to which that occurs depends on how each candidate fares.

John Kasich, who’s in fourth place or worse in the majority of Super Tuesday polling and already under pressure from donors to drop out of the race, might finally be compelled to drop out if he doesn’t exceed expectations.

Ted Cruz, who has built his entire campaign strategy around a strong Super Tuesday showing, would have virtually no shot at the nomination if he doesn’t win a handful of states. He’s leading the polls in his home state of Texas, but is anywhere from second to fourth in other Super Tuesday states.

Analysts (and bettors) view Marco Rubio as the biggest threat to frontrunner Donald Trump, but Rubio has ground to make up, having done no better than second place in any of the first three states. He likely needs one or more of the following to happen on Super Tuesday: 1) To win a handful of states, gaining momentum and holding his own against Trump in the delegate count. 2) For Cruz to underperform, hindering his standing as a viable candidate or even forcing him to drop out of the race. 3) For Kasich to drop out of the race, leaving Rubio as the only so-called mainstream Republican left in the race.

The one saving grace for candidate who perform poorly on Super Tuesday: All of the states will award their delegates proportionately, meaning a win is less valuable and a second- or third-place finish is less damaging than it would be in a winner-take-all state. Most of the contests starting on March 15 are winner-take-all, meaning candidates can rake up massive delegate counts with wins, or see their viability severely damaged with losses.

Rubio’s path to the nomination involves making the race essentially a one-on-one showdown with Trump after Super Tuesday. If there are still five or six candidates in the field by March 15 — Ben Carson is technically still in the race, though he has no shot at winning — that’s good news for Trump.

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