The Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina nomination contests provided a snapshot of voter sentiment in four distinct geographic pockets of the country. Now, the battle moves on to the 12 states that will vote on Super Tuesday 2016.
On March 1, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia will hold Republican and Democratic primaries or caucuses. Republicans in Alaska will also hold a vote on Tuesday, as will Democrats in Colorado and in American Samoa. With more than 20% of available Democratic delegates and more than 25% of Republican delegates at stake, Super Tuesday is the most important day in the nomination process.
24/7 Wall St. only considered states where delegates are bound to adhere to the primary or caucus outcome from at least one of the parties. In Wyoming and North Dakota, delegates are not allocated based on the result of their March 1 nominating contests.
The term Super Tuesday has been used for decades to describe various high-stakes primary election days, although the number of states participating on a given Super Tuesday has changed over the years. In 1984, nine states scheduled their primary elections on the same day. In 2000, 11 states held primaries or caucuses on a single day, and in 2008, 24 states voted on that year’s Super Tuesday. Now, with 12 states holding primaries or caucuses on March 1, Super Tuesday signifies the end of early voting and one of the last major opportunities for candidates to build momentum during the nomination contest.
In the five Democratic primary contests since 1984, the four candidates who won big on Super Tuesday went on to win the party’s nomination. On the Republican side, all five candidates who won a majority of delegates on Super Tuesday ultimately received the GOP’s nomination.
The 2016 race has been unique. Two party outsiders, Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders, have had surprising success with relatively little backing from their respective parties. Meanwhile, the candidate with the most monetary backing and the strongest political connections, Jeb Bush, performed relatively poorly in the first four states and dropped out.
“I have never seen a nomination contest that fundamentally rejected a political party the way the Republicans are doing this year,” said James Stimson, the Raymond Dawson distinguished bicentennial professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in an interview with 24/7 Wall St. “I’ve been watching the Republicans play ‘Whose Turn is it this Year?’ in which there’s always a designated nominee and Republican voters just fall right in line and choose that nominee and forecasts turn out to be accurate, and this year was anything but that.”
The election has also grown in importance, as all three branches of government are up for grabs. While Republicans will likely retain a majority in the House no matter who wins the presidency, Democrats need just five seats to gain control of the Senate. With a Democratic vice president, just four additional Senate seats would be needed for a Democratic majority. With the unexpected death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia — and assuming Congress will succeed in blocking any nominee President Barack Obama picks — control of the judicial branch will also be influenced by the next president.
Candidates appeal to very different sets of voters, especially in early voting contests, which often show an array of political positions within each party not seen in general elections. In South Carolina, based on exit polling conducted in the Republican primaries, Trump appeals to voters who value candidates who they think can bring needed change, are from outside the political establishment, and support the deportation of illegal immigrants and a ban on Muslim immigration, among many other campaign promises. Sen. Marco Rubio will likely appeal to voters who oppose a ban on Muslim immigration, believe illegal immigrants should be offered paths to obtaining legal status, and prefer a candidate with experience in politics. Voters who believe shared values are the most important quality in a candidate, and voters who are very conservative, are most likely to support Sen. Ted Cruz.
According to exit poll data from the New Hampshire Democratic primaries, Sanders is the favorite with voters who value honesty and trustworthiness most, and a candidate who cares about people like them. Sanders beats former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in all but the top age and income brackets, and he is especially popular among voters 18 to 29 and those who make less than $30,000 a year. Clinton does well with voters who value most the right experience in a candidate, oppose a single-payer health care system, and believe the economy is healthy.
Demographic characteristics are also major factors in voter preferences. In seven of the 12 states, the share of the population who identifies as black is lower than the national share. Hispanics make up a larger share compared to the nation in just two of the states. Three states have larger than average Asian populations. In three of the 12 states, the share of the white population is smaller than the national composition. There are often stark socioeconomic differences between these populations. As a consequence, voter sentiment tends to differ between these groups.
To build momentum in the Super Tuesday states, candidates will need to capture the religious vote as well. In seven of the 12 states with primaries or caucuses on March 1, the share of residents who claim to be either moderately or very religious exceeds the national share.
Below are 23 charts that aim to capture key information related to the the upcoming Super Tuesday.