March 1 was Super Tuesday, the day when a large number of US states held primary elections and caucuses. The all-important day that takes place in February or March is crucial for presidential hopefuls because it gives a clear indication of the opinions of people living in geographically and socially diverse regions. Super Tuesday front-runners frequently end up receiving their respective party's nomination.
The number of states holding primaries on Super Tuesday varies widely. In 2008, a record twenty-four states decided to hold the elections on what became known as Super Duper Tuesday. With twelve states and one territory (American Samoa) participating, the 2015 number was not as impressive. But it is still big enough to make an impact on the candidate's path to the US Presidency.
For the Republican Party, it was Donald Trump that took the lead with a win in seven states (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia) Ted Cruz won Alaska, (which only held Republican primaries) Oklahoma, and Texas while Marco Rubio emerged the winner in Minnesota. Colorado remains a mystery since the state decided to do away with Republican primaries in 2015.
For the Democrats, it was Hillary Clinton that took a decisive lead with a win in seven states (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia). Ms. Clinton also won in the American Samoa, an unincorporated territory of the U.S. which holds its primary Democratic caucus on March 1 and Republic caucus on March 22. Runner-up Bernie Sanders won the remaining four (Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Vermont).
While winning the citizen vote is important it is not the only thing that matters to clinch the Presidential nomination. The candidates also have to garner the votes of the delegates — the people that represent candidates at the party's respective conventions which will be held in July. For Republicans the magic number is 1,237 delegates, while the Democratic candidate needs 2,382 delegates. If that is not complicated enough, the Democratic Party also allows for superdelegates — People that do not have to pay attention to the consensus and support any candidate they wish.
So far, Donald Trump has garnered 316 of the 1,237 delegate votes he needs, while Ted Cruz has 226 delegate votes. Similarly, Hillary Clinton leads with 1,000 (including 457 superdelegates) of the 2,382 votes she needs to clinch the Democratic Party nomination. Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, has been able to get support from 371 delegates of which only 22 are superdelegates.
Though the Super Tuesday results are encouraging for the leading candidates, the race is far from over. With a majority of states planning to stage their primary elections and caucuses within the next few weeks, this is a crucial month for all the presidential hopefuls. By the end of March we may have some clarity about the two candidates that will be competing to be the 45th President of the United States of America - So stay tuned!