Super Tuesday 2020: What Is It And Why Is It So Important?

Super Tuesday is a big deal in the primaries. Find out when it is, what it is, and why its importance is growing in 2020.

People line up to vote on the last day of early voting at the Minneapolis Early Vote Center Monday, Nov. 5, 2018, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

People line up to vote on the last day of early voting at the Minneapolis Early Vote Center Monday, Nov. 5, 2018, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Primaries can be confusing and navigating them is tough. That’s why Rantt has created a Super Tuesday cheat sheet for voters to familiarize themselves with this topic and its bearing on the 2020 primaries.

What is Super Tuesday?

Super Tuesday is the date during the presidential primary when the largest number of states hold primaries or caucuses. In some years, such as 2008, this means that nearly half of the union holds their contests on the same day. The name isn’t meant to assign a positive connotation to the date. It simply serves to indicate the sheer number of states voting that day. While the term has been used since at least 1976, the first modern Super Tuesday happened in 1988, a result of Democrats attempting to concentrate several Southern primaries on the same date. In doing so, candidates could nationalize their messages, focusing on the issues that were important for a larger swath of Americans, rather than just those important to early primary states such as Iowa and New Hampshire.

Why is it important?

Super Tuesday was created by Democrats after 20 years of Republican occupants of the White House, sparing one term for Jimmy Carter. They hoped that holding so many votes on one day would enable the Democrats to nominate someone moderate and electable, unlike Walter Mondale four years prior. Having so many Southern states vote at once backfired for the Democrats on the first Super Tuesday, when Al Gore and Jesse Jackson split the party along racial lines. Michael Dukakis went on to become the nominee, losing spectacularly to George H.W. Bush in the general election. The strategy did eventually work with the election of Bill Clinton. Before winning the general election in part due to several key Southern states, Clinton swept the Super Tuesday primaries, indicating the importance of those contests. Since then, Southern white Democrats are rarer, and Super Tuesday gives more influence to Black voters who are large portions of the Democratic electorate in some Southern states.

Now, Super Tuesday is significant because of the likelihood that the day’s winner will become their respective party’s nominee. Candidates are forced to campaign on the issues that affect larger and more diverse groups of people, rather than just rural white voters. Nearly every single year, the primary fight is essentially over once Super Tuesday is finished because of the number of delegates up for grabs that day. This may be especially true in 2020.

What day is Super Tuesday in 2020?

Super Tuesday will be March 3, 2020. Though many states have not yet announced what day their primary will be, it is clear from the number of states who have announced thus far that March 3rd will have the greatest concentration.

What states have elections on Super Tuesday?

Super Tuesday has colloquially been called the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Primary because of its concentration on Southern states, In 2016, 12 states (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Vermont) voted on Super Tuesday. Each time, the states that vote on Super Tuesday are slightly different, causing a difference in the amount of delegates candidates can secure on that day in each cycle. Not all states have announced their 2020 primaries, but the following states have decided on March 3rd: Alabama, California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia.

The most notable moves to Super Tuesday are that of California and Texas. California, as the most populous state, is certain to change the way candidates campaign in advance of Super Tuesday. The state has hundreds of delegates available and is considered far more diverse than some of the traditional Super Tuesday states. Some Democrats believe that California is more accurately representative of the primary electorate of the Democratic party. The story is similar for Texas, the second most populous state, with a large Latinx community. It is unclear how the addition of California and Texas will affect the primaries, but it is certain to make the stakes on Super Tuesday even higher.

Who has won Super Tuesday in the past?

1988 D: No clear winner (Jesse Jackson, Al Gore, Michael Dukakis, Dick Gephardt split)
R: George H.W. Bush
1992 D: Bill Clinton
R: George H.W. Bush (incumbent challenged by Pat Buchanan)
1996 D: Bill Clinton (unchallenged incumbent)
R: Bob Dole
2000 D: Al Gore
R: George W. Bush
2004 D: John Kerry (on Super Tuesday 1 and Super Tuesday 2)
R: George W. Bush (unchallenged incumbent)
2008 D: Barack Obama (but not by a lot)
R: John McCain
2012 D: Barack Obama (unchallenged incumbent)
R: Mitt Romney
2016 D: Hillary Clinton
R: Donald Trump

Rantt Rundown

Super Tuesday has been an important indicator of not only who will win each party’s nomination, but who could win the presidency. Although voter turnout can vary between the primary and general elections, having an exceptional Super Tuesday performance can give us a clue into who the next President of the United States may be. With the addition of populous states like California and Texas, that could be even more true in 2020.

Who do you think has the best shot at winning Super Tuesday? Read our guides on the 2020 candidates like Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Elizabeth Warren.

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News // 2020 / Democratic Primary / Republican Primary / Super Tuesday