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Super Tuesday’s significance cannot be understated enough. Since 1980, the winner of the day (the one who wins the most caucuses), has gone on to win their party’s nomination. In this election cycle, the stakes are even higher. Here is your primer of Super Tuesday 2016.
Another Bernie Surge?
Perhaps the biggest surprise of this cycle has been the emergence of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who went from being an internet-famous protest candidate to legitimate contender for the Democratic nomination. After narrowly losing in Iowa and winning in New Hampshire, Sanders stumbled in Nevada and South Carolina, meaning Super Tuesday is all the more necessary for him. In Colorado, the 74-year-old Brooklyn native has good support in the front range, from Boulder to Fort Collins. His event at Colorado State University this past week drew a full house, and the University of Colorado has a caucus location in the University Memorial Center. But his younger voters in state might not be able to give their full support, since voters had to register as Democrats by Jan. 4 to participate.
Across the nation, Sanders has the chance to make an impact after he actively campaigned in the northern states. The opportunity for a surge is huge, especially if he can steal one or two states away from Clinton, closing the lead that the former Secretary of State has built. But his biggest challenge will be courting the minority vote, which, despite endorsements from prominent figures such as rapper Killer Mike, he has had trouble wrestling away from Clinton. Grabbing one or two states with large minority populations would be a boon for the Sanders campaign, and his chances in the future will be predicated on if he can do that on Super Tuesday.
Clinton Digs In
With a consolidated lead after wins in Nevada and South Carolina, former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton is preparing for a big day across multiple states. The split between Sanders and Clinton is clear: the Vermont senator has worked hard amongst more white liberals in northern states such as Colorado, Minnesota and his home turf, while Clinton will continue her strong campaigning amongst the Latino and African-American communities. The biggest concern of her campaign will be if Sanders’ younger supporters actually show up to the polls, but it still might not be enough.
Clinton has a good opportunity to put enough space between her and Sanders with only wins in the south. If she is able to steal one or two of the northern states from Sanders, the gap might be big enough to clinch a nomination in one of the future states, such as Florida. But in Colorado, Clinton has struggled to grab the spotlight away from Sanders, who has big support on the major university campuses within the state and with older voters, as well. Sanders has been to both the University of Colorado at Boulder and Colorado State University, while also having an event in Denver, although Clinton did come to Boulder and Denver in November ahead of these caucuses.
While the centennial state might not be the biggest state on Clinton’s list, the 79 delegates will have the final say, and most of the super delegates, including 2nd district Congressman Jared Polis, are supporters of hers.
Can Trump Be Stopped?
John Oliver unloaded Sunday night on Donald Trump, trying to convince people to see past the celebrity facade and vote based on the character of the man. The only problem? Most people watching John Oliver weren’t going to vote for Donald Trump anyway. In the places where it counts, the real estate mogul has a commanding lead in most polls (he is polling at 49 percent nationally) and shows no signs of slowing down. Somehow, every attack, critique, joke or disparaging remark about Trump makes him stronger and simply consolidates his lead. And with so many candidates in the field taking each other’s votes (John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson are all cutting into each others’ constituencies), “The Donald” can continue to build his base. Even his comments about the Ku Klux Klan and former Grand Wizard David Duke haven’t managed to stall his polling numbers, and, in a way, Trump is the final product of an electoral system that has become more theatre than anything else. It’s what the people want to see.
If he manages to take wins in the majority of states (of which Colorado is not one), the train will most likely not stop, and Trump could very well ride the wave all the way to the GOP convention and eventually the nomination. But Tuesday will provide the biggest test as to whether or not the former real estate mogul can really be stopped, or even slowed down.
Rubio and Cruz’ Last Stand
Florida Senator Marco Rubio has consistently talked up his 2nd-and-3rd place finishes in the last couple state contests like he won the whole thing. But the promise of eventual momentum will ring hollow if the GOP field continues to play second fiddle to Donald Trump. Super Tuesday might be the last chance for Rubio, and the Republican establishment for that matter, to unseat Trump in at least one state. Rubio has ramped up the attacks on Trump as well, spending much of the last debate joking about the real estate moguls’ tendency to repeat himself and his ongoing Trump University lawsuit. But as much positivity Rubio and his campaign spin, he still hasn’t won one state yet, and the need to win is all the more necessary. With time ticking away and the Trump train rolling at full speed, Rubio will need at least one win to convince voters he is a viable alternative.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz is also in a similar situation, but has more reason to be optimistic than Rubio. The bulk of Super Tuesday states lie in areas with large evangelical Christian populations, which have been Cruz’ wheelhouse. However, he didn’t get that bump he was hoping for in South Carolina (where he lost to Trump), and is at risk to face more of the same in states like Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma and his home state of Texas. The momentum simply isn’t there like it was leading into the Iowa caucus, where Cruz managed to unseat Trump for a brief period of time. Cruz’ biggest key will be winning in his home state, and possibly one more, while keeping Rubio at bay and presenting himself as the only legitimate alternative to Trump.