Now that Super Tuesday has arrived, we’ve finally reached the day during the presidential primary season when the largest amount of states hold primaries or caucuses. This tradition has been around since the 1900s, and is now known as the day that plays the largest determining factor of who each party’s nominee will be.
Super Tuesday is the biggest day of the primary portion of the election cycle — with multiple states voting and caucusing at the same time. In light of this major moment in the presidential primary, here’s everything you need to know about what happens during the process and what states are participating.
Almost every year, the states that participate on Super Tuesday change. This year, California was added to the mix. For 2020, there will be 14 states participating in primaries or caucuses that day total and their votes make up 40% of the U.S. population. The states that are voting on March 3 are Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia. Democrats living abroad who are from these states can also vote, as well as Samoans (who don’t get to vote in general elections but do in primaries).
Primaries and caucuses work differently in each state, but most have in-person voting. However, in states like Colorado, all voting is done by mail. In California, people can cast ballots in person or by mail if they prefer. In Virginia particularly, Republican primary voters will not cast a ballot on Super Tuesday because the state Republican Party canceled primary elections everywhere in order to put support behind current president, Donald Trump.
Once all of these states have voted on Tuesday, more than 40% of the country’s population will have voted, and for that reason, Super Tuesday is seen as the defining day during primaries. It essentially makes or breaks who can win, and whoever comes out on top usually goes on to become the nominee for that party.
This year, because Super Tuesday now includes California, which moved its primary to join the rest of the states that usually participate, the stakes are even higher than usual. Because the day of primaries or caucuses now includes giants like California and Texas, 1,357 of the Democrats' 3,979 pledged delegates are up for grabs. That means that a candidate has to win at least 1,991 delegates in order to get the Democratic nomination.
As so many states are participating, voting is happening in four different time zones — also making it essentially one of the longest days of the year. It’s likely that we’ll all be up awaiting results for quite a while, on the edge of our seats.