There were, predictably, few surprises in the Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses for both Republicans and Democrats.
After the initial round of single-state contests, Super Tuesday saw Americans voting in 24 states. This was probably the largest number of single-day nominating contests ever in the US elections, as voters chose more than half the Democratic delegates and almost half of the Republican delegates to attend party conventions in August and September. These meets will pick the final nominees for president.
On the Republican side, full-scale battle seems to have been joined: the contest for presidential nomination is now much clearer. Senator John McCain is in a commanding position after winning several key states, including California, New York, New Jersey and Illinois. This leaves his chief rival, Mitt Romney — who has done well in many western states — slugging it out with a resurgent Mike Huckabee who, expectedly, swept up several southern states in the ‘Bible Belt’. For Democrats, however, Super Tuesday has made little difference in the dramatic toe-to-toe fight between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Not that many people seriously expected a different outcome, given the complex Democratic delegate system that made a decisive win by either candidate highly unlikely. In that sense, it is remarkable that the vote appears to have split so dramatically, with Mr Obama taking some big states, including his home state Illinois, while Ms Clinton won major battleground states like California, New York and New Jersey.
Going by the voting pattern so far, the uncertain state of the US economy continues to be the main concern for voters from both parties. Exit poll results suggest that after the economy, international issues vex Republican voters most followed by immigration, the Iraq war, and terrorism — in that order. This could explain why Senators McCain and Clinton have done well in states where voters valued candidates with a long history of public service. Although it’s still too early to tell, a relatively short fight to the finish on the Republican side now looks set to be matched by a more drawn-out Democratic race.