Here's What You Need To Know About Super Tuesday | KERA News

Here's What You Need To Know About Super Tuesday

Feb 27, 2020

The Super Tuesday primary elections are coming up March 3. More than a dozen states and U.S. territories will vote on this day, and more than a third of the delegates to the Democratic National Convention are at stake.

California and Texas have the largest share of Democratic delegates. And this week, KERA’s Think and KQED’s The California Report will host a “Countdown to Super Tuesday '' special where journalists, voters and experts from Texas and California will discuss the presidential race. 

When did Super Tuesday start and why is it so important? Before you listen to the show, here’s a roundup of what you need to know about Super Tuesday. 

What Is Super Tuesday?

Super Tuesday is a highly anticipated day of any presidential year where voters and pundits alike carefully take notes on which candidate seems primed to collect the most delegates. 

It is the Tuesday of a presidential election year when the largest number of jurisdictions and delegates are at stake in the primaries. Roughly 40% of the U.S. population will have their primaries or caucuses on this day. 

When Did Super Tuesday Start?
Walter Mondale, the 1984 Democratic presidential nominee, pumps his fist during his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco.
Credit Associated Press

It all started in 1980 when the term “Super Tuesday” emerged after Alabama, Florida and Georgia held their primaries on the same day. That expanded to nine states in 1984. 

The Super Tuesday we know today first happened in 1988 when Democrats in a dozen Southern states, upset with the nomination of Walter Mondale four years earlier, banded together to try to nominate someone more moderate — but the plan backfired. Al Gore and Jesse Jackson divided Democratic votes paving the way for Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis to win the nomination.

Who Will Be Voting?

More than a dozen jurisdictions and Democrats living outside the U.S. will vote or caucus on that day: 

Alabama | American Samoa | Arkansas

California | Colorado | Maine

Massachusetts | Minnesota | North Carolina

Oklahoma | Tennessee | Texas

Utah | Vermont | Virginia

Map of states holding a presidential primary on March 3, 2020.
Credit Ballotpedia
What's At Stake?

On Super Tuesday, 1,344 pledged Democratic delegates — roughly 33% of the 3,979 total Democratic delegates — will be at stake. Most of these delegates come from two of the most populous U.S. states: Texas and California. There are 2,441 pledged Republican delegates in the U.S. 

Candidates who do well in Super Tuesday primaries often go on to become the nominee for their party, while those who do poorly often drop out of the presidential race. 

To learn more about what’s at stake during this year’s Super Tuesday election, tune in to Think Friday, Feb. 28 at 1 p.m.