The Pulse: What you need to know on Super Tuesday

William JordanUS Elections Editor
March 01, 2016, 8:21 AM GMT+0

Hello, I'm Will Jordan and welcome to The Pulse.

Happy Super Tuesday! Today Democrats and Republicans head to the polls in 13 states and one territory. Here are some things you should know:

  1. Which states vote today?

    For Republicans: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia, for a total of 595 delegates.

    For Democrats: Same list, except swap Alaska for Colorado, for a total of 865 delegates, not including superdelegates (over 100 are also attached to the Super Tuesday states). There are also votes for American Samoa, a U.S. territory and Democrats Abroad.

  2. What’s going on in the GOP primary?

    The past week: Trump’s huge win in Nevada, CNN’s rancorous debate, Rubio’s headline-grabbing insults, Chris Christie’s bombshell endorsement, Trump’s stunning refusal to disavow a former leader of the KKK and another major endorsement for Trump. Yet YouGov and CNN have polls conducted at least partially after the debate on February 25 – and neither show Trump losing steam. CNN has Trump at an all-time high of 49%. YouGov had a three way race between Trump, Rubio and Cruz at 49-27-25. What little polling there is, then, suggests Trump’s momentum hasn’t slowed since his Nevada win. Tonight will test that hypothesis.

  3. Who wins where? (Republican edition)

    Tuesday plays to Trump’s relative strength in the South and the Northeast. He leads in five of the six states with more than one recent poll, all by significant margins (showing average leads): Alabama (+27), Georgia (+15), Massachusetts (+30), Oklahoma (+13) and Virginia (+14). Cruz leads in his home state of Texas, with its 155 delegates, and may do especially well in Oklahoma and Arkansas. Rubio is expected to do well in Minnesota and Virginia due to their large well-educated, upper-middle class populations. Winning only Texas would actually be dire for Cruz, who was originally supposed to perform best in the conservative, evangelical South.

  4. Who wins where? (Democratic edition)

    Things are looking good for Hillary Clinton. Her bigger-than-expected win in South Carolina suggests her “firewall” of support among non-white voters, at least among African-Americans, is intact. Many states on Tuesday have large black or Hispanic populations. She leads Sanders in Texas (+28), Georgia (+26), Massachusetts (+9) and Virginia (+21). She is also expected to do very well in Alabama and Tennessee. The Sanders campaign has said their goal is to win Massachusetts and the remaining four states – Oklahoma, Minnesota, Colorado and Sanders’ home state of Vermont. All of them are reasonable targets, with the little available polling showing close races (except in Vermont, where he is crushing it), and favorable demographics – some combination of white, liberal and rural. But that might not be enough (see below).

  5. What it means to “win” – and where things go next

    Of course, “winning” a state doesn’t always mean very much. In most cases delegates will be allocated proportionally based on share of the vote statewide or by congressional district. This means it is difficult to build up a large delegate lead – and difficult to catch up if you fall very far behind. For Republicans, this is only temporary. On March 15th the primary moves to “winner take all” rules that would theoretically allow a candidate like Rubio to win big states like Ohio and Florida and catch up with Trump. But the better Trump does the steeper a climb it is – and rules in five states (Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Vermont) mean Rubio and Cruz will get no delegates if they fall below 20%. For the Democrats, every state is proportional. That’s why it’s so problematic for Bernie Sanders if it is a wipeout. If Clinton opens up a large enough lead, even if Sanders “wins” most of his targets, he may never be able to close the gap.

  6. Something else:

    Many have suspected there is a “ceiling” to Trump’s support, keeping him from getting more than around 35% even if a race narrows to only two candidates. YouGov tested that over the weekend and found little evidence of a ceiling. In a forced choice Trump beats Cruz among likely Republican primary voters 57-43, and beats Rubio similarly 56-44. Rubio and Cruz both get roughly two-thirds of the other’s support in a winnowed field (the rest go to Trump); there just isn’t enough of it. They get only 21% (Cruz) and 17% (Rubio) in the full list of candidates.

me for constant updates on the race, and other stuff too.

The Pulse is a weekly newsletter YouGov has launched ahead of the 2016 primaries and general election to give readers a one-stop-shop for the latest polling-related news from the campaign. In addition to YouGov’s own extensive coverage of the election, The Pulse gives you the five things you need to know about the state of the campaign each week (and one you don't need to know but we think is worth knowing anyway!).

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