Super Tuesday Explained For Non-Americans

What’s a Super Tuesday, and why should we care?

1. You may be hearing inklings today about yet another stage in the never-ending saga of the American presidential election. That’s because it’s SUPER TUESDAY!

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Just look how happy they are! America!

2. The thing that makes this Tuesday so Super is the sheer number of states voting:

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If you’re not up on your American geography, that’s Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia.

3. What makes it extra complicated is how every state does things a bit differently, and at different times. In Alaska, for example, only the Republicans are having a caucus.

Sarah Palin’s Alaska / TLC

If you don’t remember what a caucus is, refer to our handy guide to the Iowa caucuses.

Basically, a primary entails casting a simple ballot, whereas a caucus usually involves standing around in a grim community centre with your neighbours and having an argument.

4. But in Colorado, a state known for its stunning natural beauty and legal-ass weed, only the Democrats are picking delegates on Super Tuesday.

Steven Bratman / Flickr: darkdenver

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The Republicans are also having a caucus on the same day, but their delegates won’t be bound to any candidate until the national conventions. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

5. And, OH GOD, also, in Wyoming – a state with a population of three people living under the benevolent rule of a friendly grizzly bear – the Republicans have a caucus on Super Tuesday, but it’s only a pretend one.

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And it’s just one step in what NPR referred to in 2012 as a “drawn out and confusing” process. So just…ignore Wyoming. Or, let’s be honest, continue to ignore Wyoming.

6. Lots of candidates have dropped out of the races recently as they suddenly realised that they were fucking awful at running for president. That means the remaining Democrat candidates are:

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Hillary Clinton – The presumptive favourite, the establishment choice, determined to avenge her 2008 defeat by Barack Obama. Eighty-nine per cent likely to be Illuminati.

Bernie Sanders – The eccentric uncle in a film about a group of kids who have to put on a show to save their community centre from being shut down by property developers.

7. Meanwhile, in the Republican race we have:

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Donald Trump – The gurning, stubby-fingered ringmaster of this nightmare circus, this vicious cabaret; a way-too-crude parody of America’s darkest thoughts, somehow summoned into being from some fever dream of the national psyche. He’s… He’s going to win, isn’t he?

Marco Rubio – Senator from Florida. The Republican establishment has promised him that if he can defeat Trump, it will grant him his lifelong wish of becoming a real boy.

Ted Cruz – Cruz is a senator from Texas who had hoped to capture the evangelical voters and disaffected right-wingers who hate the Washington establishment, but has seen Trump comprehensively steal his base from him.

Ben Carson – Murmuring numpty.

John Kasich – Nobody has ever met John Kasich.

8. So who’s going to win??????? Well, unless something deeply strange happens, Hillary’s going to have a good night.

AlexanderZam / Shutterstock / Ethan Miller / Justin Sullivan / Getty Images / BuzzFeed

Loads of the states are in the South, which means they have loads of black voters, and as the result in South Carolina showed, black voters are really not feeling the Bern.

Bernie’s home state of Vermont will definitely vote for him, but it’s tiny and weird so doesn’t really matter. Minnesota, Massachusetts, Colorado, and Oklahoma are other states where he has a chance – but he really needs to win several of them to keep the dream alive.

9. And Donald Trump is going to destroy all before him because that is apparently what’s happening now.

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Ted Cruz was supposed to do really well in the Southern states, where there’s lots of evangelical voters. He isn’t. Ted Cruz is bad at the job of being Ted Cruz. He’s even in a tight race with Trump in his home state of Texas – if he loses that, he can basically give up and return to his favoured pastimes of shutting down the government and failing to deny being the Zodiac Killer.

Meanwhile, Marco Rubio is just desperately trying to win a state, any state, to prove that he can actually win something rather than consistently getting around 25% everywhere.

10. Basically, here is a simplified version of the above map.

AlexanderZam / Shutterstock / Joe Raedle / Getty Images / BuzzFeed

Get used to this image, because you’re going to be seeing it a lot over the coming months. Learn to love the giant looming head of President-for-Life Trump.

11. So essentially, what’s really interesting about this particular Super Tuesday – and this particular election – is that the end times approach swiftly and without mercy for the innocent.

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12. Because as this Economist/YouGov poll from this weekend foretells, Trump has gone from a racist carnival sideshow to the seemingly inevitable Republican nominee for president.

Economist/YouGov poll Trump 44 Cruz 21 Rubio 17 Kasich 8 3-way Trump 49, Rubio 27, Cruz 25 1-on-1 Trump 58, Cruz 42 Trump 57, Rubio 43

— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur)

13. And with 11 states each and 1,460 delegates up for grabs, Super Tuesday is likely to cement that fact.

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14. Because, you see, they’re not just competing to win states. Hahaha, no, that would be far too simple, and Americans would never hold a simple election when they could hold an absurdly complex one with rules that date back to the 1780s.

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Instead, they’re competing to win delegates – the people whom each state party will send to the national party conventions later this summer, where they a) wave banners around and b) vote for the nominee.

And, LOL, each state gets to set its own different rules for exactly how it hands out delegates. Oh god, it’s all so complicated, I’m going for a cigarette; if you really want all the exhaustive details, the Washington Post has done a sterling job of not falling asleep while explaining it.

15. But basically, what you need to know is that if they get enough votes, even candidates who lose in a state can still win ~some vague number~ of delegates.

Wavebreakmedia Ltd / Getty Images

This is good news for Marco Rubio especially, who can theoretically continue to suck at winning anything and still stay in the race.

16. Oh, wait, except it’s even more complicated than that with the Democrats, because they have superdelegates as well.

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Sadly, these aren’t mild-mannered delegates who one day got bitten by a radioactive pollster. They’re just ~important party people~ who get to support whoever they want regardless of how the public votes.

Naturally Hillary has these people in her pocket because of the Illuminati thing we mentioned earlier.

17. Let’s take a breather for a second and look at another lovely picture of a patriotic American dog.

Adogslifephoto / Getty Images / BuzzFeed

18. But anyway, another thing that makes Super Tuesday so Super is its timing – even with eight months left before Election Day, it’s high time the parties started consolidating their support around their official nominees.

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The longer they’re in-fighting, the more they may be damaging themselves – and they have to make up their minds before the parties’ national conventions in July.

19. Because of this new urgency, the Republicans are having a bit of a mare thanks to their little Trump situation.

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

He’s picking up high-profile endorsements and stampeding toward the nomination like an angry, racist bull.

20. If you love a good conspiracy, you’ll be disappointed to learn that there isn’t actually a smoky back room somewhere filled with elite Republican power brokers (or dogs) who can force other non-Trump contenders to quit and rally behind Rubio.

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21. Nope, nothing to see here.

commons.wikimedia.org / Creative Commons

22. The New York Times reported that the closest thing to a plan the Republicans have is something proposed by Senate majority leader and empty-sock lookalike Mitch McConnell.

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That plan is for the party to isolate itself from its own presidential candidate, which is pretty awkward, but Americans don’t mind awkward situations as much as British people do.

23. The Republican party is in a bit of a pickle: Establishment Republicans worry that staying attached to Trump would fatally harm their other races and their party as a whole.

Fox Searchlight Pictures

But it might be worse for them to deny the democratic aspirations of their party’s voters, who want to live under the rule of President Trump, than to just let him have the nomination.

24. So they reckon that sometimes it’s better to just saw off your own arm and be done with it.

Fox Searchlight Pictures

And instead to focus on the House and Senate races, so even if you don’t win the presidency, you can still be a dick to Hillary in Congress.

25. So that’s what Super Tuesday is, except for the bits that are too complicated. In the words of failed candidate and human wet-blanket Jeb Bush: Please clap.

Everything’s going to be absolutely fine!

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Hannah Jewell is a senior staff writer for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Tom Phillips is the UK editorial director for BuzzFeed and is based in London.
 
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