Clinton, Trump and their Super Tuesday test

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Feb 29, 2016 16:23 IST
A combination photograph of US presidential election frontrunners Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump (Agencies)

Bernie Sanders may have pulled up close alongside Hillary Clinton in polls nationally, but she is ahead in most states holding their nominating contests for the US presidential elections on March 1, Super Tuesday.

On the Republican side, Donald Trump faces no such challenges to his frontrunner status nationally, staying ahead comfortably in most of the Super Tuesday states.

Twelve states and one territory will hold their nominating contests — primaries and caucuses —on March 1, known as Super Tuesday in the presidential election calendar.

Candidates need delegates to win the nomination, and on Super Tuesday there are going to be 865 delegates up for grabs for Democrats and 595 for Republicans.

A Democratic candidate must secure at least 2,383 of the total of 4,765 delegates to become the party’s nominee. And a Republican needs at least 1,237 of the total of 2,472.

This is a crucial stage in presidential elections, and it is known to throw up clear winners at times — Mitt Romney in 2012, for instance, declared the primaries over after Super Tuesday.

But occasionally, Super Tuesdays don’t live up to the billing, In 2008, Clinton and Barack Obama declared the Democratic race over, but the slugfest went on.

Clinton lost eventually but she is in a better place this time. Eight of the 11 states holding Democratic contests are in the south, where the demographics favour her, as in South Carolina.

Read: Rejuvenated Hillary Clinton wows crowd on home turf

South Carolina’s African-Americans, who were solidly aligned with Obama in 2008, clearing up his path to the nomination, went with Clinton this time, and in larger numbers.

In 2008, 78% of African-Americans voted for Obama to the 19% that backed Clinton, according to exit polls. This time, 84% of them went with Clinton and 16% with Sanders.

The Vermont Senator, whose insurgent campaign has attracted voters and pundits alike, leads in his home state and is close to Clinton in Massachusetts, but has not looked threatening.

Hillary Clinton speaks during her primary night gathering at the University of South Carolina on Saturday. (AFP)

The New York Times has predicted, based on the South Carolina primary results, a sweep for Clinton on Super Tuesday, and other publications have awarded her the nomination.

The story on the Republican side, however, is more complex despite Trump’s unmitigated lead in polls nationally and in states headed for Super Tuesday.

Except in Texas, where Republicans are rooting for their own, Ted Cruz, a first time Cuban-American Senator who won the Iowa caucuses but has struggled with trust issues.

Trump may win most of the other 11 states where Republicans are holding their nominating contests, but the party establishment remains wary of him. It continues to look for alternatives, desperately with every passing day now.

Marco Rubio, another Cuban-American, appears to have their attention and support for now. He is polling second, ahead of Cruz, in Georgia and Virginia, two of the Super Tuesday states, but is not expected to change the race now or in the coming week.

Rubio’s big moment is expected on March 15, when his home state Florida holds primaries with Ohio, another large state where Trump is tied with John Kasich, another candidate.

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