Super Tuesday: Three things to watch out for in US election race
Democrats and Republicans fight it out in the biggest day so far in US presidential election
A fan during a campaign rally for Republican frontrunner Donald Trump. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
1 DEMOCRATIC RACE: NORTH V SOUTH
Clinton is expected to sweep the six American southern states up for grabs today – Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas and Virginia – because of her strong support among black voters who have a large share of the Democratic primary electorate in these contests. A narrow Clinton victory in Virginia, the most northern of those states, would be a sign of her campaign underperforming.
Sanders will win his home state of Vermont and he has concentrated his campaigning efforts in the run-up to Super Tuesday on Massachusetts and Minnesota in the north and Oklahoma, which have a large percentage of liberal and blue-collar voters with whom the senator plays well. Don’t just watch for potential victories for the 74-year-old democratic socialist in those states, but winning margins; he needs convincing if not landslide victories against Clinton.
In the south, Sanders needs to show he can make some inroads into her strong African-American and Latino support base if he is to sustain a viable challenge.
2 DEMOCRATIC RACE: THE DELEGATE COUNT
Clinton leads Sanders 544 to 85 among delegates and super-delegates (party leaders and elected officials) who will formally choose the party’s nominee at the Democratic National Convention in July.
The winning candidate needs 2,383 delegates to secure the nomination and more than a third, or 865, are up for grabs today. Sanders is at a disadvantage in that two-thirds of those delegates are in the southern states in which Clinton has at least a 20-point lead. The big state to watch is Texas, which has 222 delegates.
Sanders failing to match Clinton’s expected southern landslides in the north would mean that she could build up a delegate lead today that he may never be able to catch, handing her the nomination.
3 STATE TO WATCH IN THE REPUBLICAN RACE: TEXAS
Heading into Super Tuesday with a 33-point lead in the latest CNN/ORC national poll, published yesterday, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump has huge momentum. He leads on average in polls in all of the big-delegate states voting today except Texas, where home senator Ted Cruz is ahead. A narrower race in the Lone Star state, or even a surprise Trump win, would likely make him unstoppable in his bid to be the nominee.
Watch too for the margin of Trump victories in the other big states. With 595 delegates in play today, victories in most of the 11 states voting today will push the billionaire closer to securing the magic 1,237-delegate figure that he needs and fuel further momentum, with the big states of Florida and Ohio voting on March 15th.