Super Tuesday

From Academic Kids

In the United States, Super Tuesday commonly refers to a Tuesday in early March of a presidential election year. It is the day when the most states simultaneously hold their primary elections, and the single day when the most nominating delegates can be won. As such, candidates must do well if they hope to secure their party's nomination.


The phrase "Super Tuesday" first came into use for the slate of primary elections that took place on March 8, 1988, in the U.S. Southern states of Texas, Florida, Tennessee, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama, and Georgia leading up to the 1988 election in November. Southern Democrats came up with the idea of a regional primary in an effort to nominate a moderate candidate who would more closely represent Southern interests. (Their plan ultimately did not succeed as Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis was subsequently nominated.) Since then, the particular states holding primaries on Super Tuesday has varied from year to year. Subsequent "Super Tuesdays" have taken place on March 10, 1992; March 12, 1996; March 7, 2000; and March 2, 2004. In 2000, 16 U.S. states and American Samoa held primaries on Super Tuesday, the largest presidential primary election day in U.S. history.

Convincing wins in Super Tuesday primaries have usually propelled candidates to their party's nomination. While the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary receive much press attention because they are first, they are sometimes criticized for being small states that are unrepresentative of the U.S. as a whole. Since Super Tuesday primaries are held in a large number of states from geographically and socially diverse regions of the country, Super Tuesday typically represents a Presidential candidate's first test of national electability. In 1992, after losing earlier primaries, Democrat Bill Clinton emerged as a candidate "back from the dead" when he convincingly won a number of Southern primaries on Super Tuesday. Clinton ultimately went on to win the Democratic nomination and the Presidency. In 1996, Republican Bob Dole's Super Tuesday sweep sealed his bid for the Republican nomination. In 2000, Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush cemented their nomination bids with Super Tuesday victories, and both went on to win their party's nomination. In 2000, approximately 61% of Democratic delegates and 58% of Republican delegates needed to secure nomination were up for grabs on Super Tuesday.

Recently, as more states attempt to front-load their primaries in attempts to increase their importance, a Tuesday in early February has been referred to as "mini-Tuesday" or "mini-Super Tuesday" or "junior Tuesday" because several states have their primaries on that day. The date in February has also increasingly been called "Super Tuesday" in its own right.



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