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Super Tuesday: What to Notice

know your facts Mar 06, 2024
the red and white stripes of a US flag lay across a red, white, and blue sign that reads PRIMARY ELECTIONS. Photo by Kameleon007 for getty images via

As I write this on Super Tuesday, the single biggest day for presidential primaries in the US, it seems like things are going as expected. Fifteen states and one territory are voting for the Democratic and Republican nominees for president and some states are also voting for nominees for senate or governor.


Super Tuesday States & Territories

Alabama, Alaska (GOP only), Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and American Samoa.


What is a Primary and How Does it Work?

Before I get into what’s expected and what’s interesting, let’s review what primaries are and how they work. A primary is an election to select candidates, usually for a specific political party, to be included on the general election ballot. Primaries award delegates, and candidates must reach a specific number of delegates to win the nomination and appear on the general election ballot in November.

According to the National Conference on State Legislatures, the way party primaries work varies by state.

Primaries fall into these six categories:

  • Closed: you must be a registered member of the party to vote in the primary election
  • Partially Closed: Each election cycle, parties get to choose whether to allow unaffiliated voters to participate in their primaries.
  • Partially Open: Voters can cross party lines, but their ballot choice may be seen as registering with the other party.
  • Open to Unaffiliated Voters: unaffiliated voters can vote in either primary, but registered voters must participate in their own party’s primary.
  • Open Primaries: In general, states that don’t ask voters to choose parties on the voter registration form are “open.” Voters choose which party’s ballot to vote on, but the decision is private and doesn’t register the voter with that party.
  • Multi-party: a growing number of states hold a single primary with all candidates on one ballot, regardless of party. The top candidates (the number varies by state) are the ones who advance to the general election. In states like Nebraska, the ballots don’t identify the candidate’s party.


Things are Going as Expected

Incumbent President Joe Biden was expected to win the party nomination easily, and Trump was expected to be in the lead for the Republicans. According to the Guardian, early results showed they both won several states: Virginia, North Carolina, Maine, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Arkansas, Alabama, Colorado and Minnesota. Nikki Haley won the Republican primary in Vermont (and the primary in Washington, DC on Monday).

To secure the Democratic nomination, Biden must have 1,968 delegates, which he could win as early as March 19 when Florida, Illinois, Kansas and Ohio hold their Democratic primaries. Trump needs 1,215 needed to win the nomination and the earliest he could have those is also 19 March with Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kansas and Ohio, as long as Haley doesn't win another state.


Unrest with the Democrats

As folks protest US support for Israel’s war on Gaza, some people are writing in names or voting uncommitted. People using this protest vote see it as a way to register their discontent without risking a protest vote in the election in November. Other people see casting a protest vote in the primary as irresponsible. Both Rashida Tlaib and Beto O’Rourke have backed the uncommitted campaign with the idea to support Biden in the general election. In the Michigan primary, 13% of Democratic voters (100,000 people) voted uncommitted. Unfortunately, some folks are starting to worry that people won’t get the second part of that message and they’re afraid the uncommitted campaign might backfire. Uncommitted has gained some delegate votes. I'm guessing those delegates will be cast for a candidate at the Democratic convention.

Social media, especially Black Twitter, has dragged both Rashida Tlaib and Beto O’Rourke for supporting the uncommitted campaign. In general, folks on the bird app are saying that Black folks do not play with democracy and do not do protest votes, @2RawTooRealtweeted, “Just because I’m petty! Black people don’t vote 🗳️ uncommitted we are only committed to saving democracy. We don’t play Russian roulette with our rights. Don’t argue with me argue with these numbers.”

But Black folks are standing in solidarity with Arabs and Palestinians and supporting the movement.

After loudly campaigning for uncommitted, Beto quickly voiced his support for Biden. @fawfulfan tweeted, “Looks like Beto is regretting his comments about the “uncommitted” vote in Michigan.”

And Rashida Tlaib has talked about her fears of a second Trump presidency.


Trouble for Trump

While Trump is in the lead for the GOP nomination, it doesn’t look good that as the front runner, he’s lost 2 primaries to Nikki Haley (Vermont and DC). What’s even worse is the number of Republicans saying they won’t guarantee they will vote for him in the general election - North Carolina: 35%, Virginia: 36%, California:  33%. When a third of your supporters are that unenthusiastic, that’s a heavy lift to get them to the polls and voting for you. It doesn’t mean they won’t. Republicans historically have voted in lock step more often than Democrats. If these voters really choose not to vote for president or to vote for Biden, this could be a huge loss for Republicans. @Acyn tweeted this video from Fox News, “Jessica: You look at the exits for GOP voters tonight who won't guarantee their vote for the nominee. North Carolina, 35%, Virginia 36%, California 33%. That has been consistent, 30-50% of people who don’t want Trump but identify as Republican or are voting in that primary.”

 The Others

I was surprised to find out that Marianne Williamson had unsuspended her campaign after getting 2,199 more votes than Dean Phillips in Michigan. People were recommending that for states that did not offer a write-in or uncommitted option, voters should choose Marianne Williamson, knowing she would lose. I thought that was funny and even funnier that nobody recommended Dean Phillips. He had jokes for himself tonight as well, tweeting, “Congratulations to Joe Biden, Uncommitted, Marianne Williamson, and Nikki Haley for demonstrating more appeal to Democratic Party loyalists than me.

What I'm Thinking

The election is going to come down to Biden vs. Trump. Biden is not my ideal, but he’s done some good things and he’s not doing as many harmful things as Trump has promised to do. I will not give Trump a win because I’m angry about Gaza and Covid protocols. It’s not that I don’t care about the people dying from both. It’s that it will be infinitely harder to advocate for either issue under a Trump administration. And I don’t have any other choice. At this point, there isn’t another option for Democrats. So I’ll do what every other advocate and supporter of democracy has done before me, take the best of two options I don’t really want and work to leave better options for the people who come behind me.

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