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March 3, 2020, marked the most significant day of voting in the Democratic Party's 2020 presidential nomination fight. Also known as Super Tuesday, it was the day when 14 states and one US territory (American Samoa) held primary elections and caucuses. The results provided the first real indication of the likely Democratic nominee for the November presidential elections against the incumbent Republican nominee, President Donald Trump.
The participating states, which spanned across the country, from California to Maine and included the mostly Democratic Massachusetts and the traditionally Republican Texas. Together, they accounted for 1,357 of the 1,991 delegates needed to clinch the nomination. California's decision to move up its primary — traditionally held in June — to Super Tuesday was particularly important given that the country's most populous state accounts for 415, or 20 percent, of the delegates, needed to win the Democratic presidential ticket.
Mr. Joe Biden emerged as the clear winner of the Super Tuesday polls. The former US Vice President won in ten states, including Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Virginia, Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Meanwhile, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders managed to score decisive victories in four states — Vermont, Utah, Colorado, and the all-important California.
While winning the citizen vote is essential, it is not the only thing that matters to clinch the US presidential nomination. The candidates also have to garner a majority vote from the pledged delegates — people selected to represent the voters at the Democratic convention in July, where the party's 2020 presidential nominee will be decided. The number of delegates in each state differs based on the population and weight of the Democratic Party. For example, traditionally, Democratic-leading states like California have more delegates allotted to that party than Republican-leaning ones that are of a similar size.
To make things more confusing, the number of delegates won by each candidate is calculated by the members of the state's Democratic party using a complicated formula based on the popular votes they receive. To ensure the voters' choice is respected, most states and districts require that the candidate receive at least 15 percent of the popular votes in the primary or caucus to receive delegates. The first candidate to obtain a majority of the 3,979 pledged delegates — 1,991, to be exact — wins the nomination.
Similar to the popular vote, Mr. Joe Biden took the lead with 408 pledged delegates, bringing the former Vice President's total — including those from previous primaries — to 501. Mr. Bernie Sanders meanwhile garnered 344 pledged delegates, bringing his total to 438. While the final pledged delegate count from California, which is still tallying the popular votes, will not be available for a few weeks, the overall outcome is not expected to change.
As had been hoped, Super Tuesday helped to narrow down the number of candidates vying for the nomination. On March 4, 2020, former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, who garnered 59 pledged delegates, dropped out of the race. On March 5, 2020, Senator Elizabeth Warren, who came in third with 64 pledged delegates, announced she was ending her presidential campaign as well.
Since a large number of states have yet to stage their primary elections and caucuses, there is a strong possibility of one of the two front-runners obtaining the required 1,991 pledged delegates before the Democratic convention in July. However, if neither manages to win a supermajority by then, the decision to select the 2020 Democratic nominee will be in the hands of 771 superdelegates. These are current or former elected officials and party leaders who are not bound by the votes from the primary election and are free to select the candidate of their choice for the presidential nomination. Regardless of how things turn out, the next few months leading up to the November election promise to be exciting — so stay tuned.
Resources: Vox.com, CNN.com, Washingtonpost.com, NPR.org