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Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Tuesday is Here!

Update:  MSNBC calls Oklahoma for Clinton

Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball ’08 has accumulated an incredible wealth of STuesday information in one place, on one webpage, at your fingertips. I recommend opening this page and keeping it open on your desktop as results pour in from coast to coast. We’ll likely want to refer to it throughout the day– and well into what might be a long evening.

Today really is historic, and way beyond any previous "Super" Tuesday primaries:

The only other single-day event that has ever come close to this size during the presidential nominating process came on March 8, 1988, when the first full-blown Super Tuesday featured 16 primaries, actually one more than is scheduled next Tuesday. But that one-day votefest 20 years ago was a Southern-oriented event, rounded out by a handful of primaries in the Northeast and a smattering of low-visibility caucuses in the West.

This year’s Super Tuesday, by contrast, is truly a nationwide event, the largest in scope ever held outside the November general election. It is vast and varied in virtually every way. Each region of the country is well represented. Red and blue states abound. Racial diversity is accented. Voter enthusiasm has rarely been higher, and turnout should be huge.

Well, some voter enthusiasm. Democratic voter enthusiasm, to be specific. The GOP, not so much. But I digress. Let’s return to Larry’s Senior Columnist Rhodes Cook, shall we?

Unlike 1988, no one part of the country will dominate next week’s vote. Each region will have a say, with the West (with one-third of the Democratic and Republican delegates) and the Northeast (with roughly one-quarter) leading the way. Altogether, Super Tuesday will include at least five states from each region, anchored by the nation’s first, third and fifth most populous states–California, New York, and Illinois, respectively.

The monster vote will require candidates to dip into both Red and Blue America in their hunt for delegates. The quintet of Southern primary states all voted decisively for President Bush in 2004. The five primary states in the Northeast were clear-cut in their support for John Kerry.

In the heartland, candidates will be tested in a collection of battleground states which nowadays are being described as purple, rather than red or blue. It is a group that on Super Tuesday will include Minnesota and Missouri in the Midwest and Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico in the Mountain West.

In the process, candidates will come face to face with the rich mosaic of racial and ethnic diversity that comprises the American electorate. Seven states voting Feb. 5 have populations at least 15 percent African American–four in the South, three in the industrial Frost Belt (including Hillary Clinton’s home base of New York and Barack Obama’s Illinois). Five states next Tuesday have populations 15 percent or more Hispanic–New York plus four Western states (California, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico).

And will we have a conclusive result?

The one area where the Democrats and Republicans operate on quite different playing fields is in the realm of awarding delegates. Democrats require that delegates be elected to proportionally reflect the primary or caucus vote, with 15 percent statewide or in a congressional district needed to qualify for a share. Republicans allow for a variety of delegate allocation methods, from proportional representation to winner-take-all. And next Tuesday, most states on the Republican side will be using some variation of winner-take-all.

Yet ultimately, the big question is whether either party will have a decisive outcome on Feb. 5 as the Republicans did on Super Tuesday 1988? Then, Vice President George H.W. Bush swept every primary and all but one caucus state, essentially wrapping up the GOP nomination right there.

Or might one or both parties next Tuesday have a fragmented outcome like the Democrats did in early March two decades ago? Michael Dukakis, Jesse Jackson and Al Gore each won five primary states that day and divided the delegates–an inconclusive result that sent the Democratic contest hurdling on for weeks to come.

There are some great charts and graphs at Larry’s place; I really recommend it as a one-stop resource for how things work today, everywhere, in both parties, coast to coast. Finally, when will we know the results?

Results will trickle in next Tuesday night much like they will do in November. Polls in Georgia are scheduled to close at 7 p.m. An hour later every primary state east of the Mississippi River except New York will begin reporting their results. Polls in the Empire State will close at 9 p.m. Arizona will begin reporting its results the same hour. Utah will follow at 10 p.m. Eastern time, California at 11.

So fasten your seat belts. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.

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Teddy Partridge

Teddy Partridge