Today is Super Tuesday, often referred to as the most important day on the primary calendar. The states that vote today are home to almost 20 million more people than the entire population of the United Kingdom, and the 595 Republican and 1,004 Democratic delegates on offer represent almost half the total needed to win each party’s nomination. In every presidential election since 1988, the winner of the most states on Super Tuesday for either party has gone on to be the nominee.
After several months of preamble, the nominating process to find the next president of the United States officially started this week with Monday’s Iowa caucuses. The theme on both sides of the political divide was of outsiders breaking down barriers. Hillary Clinton became the first woman ever to win in Iowa, while Ted Cruz went one better, becoming the first Latino to win a presidential primary or caucus in any state.
With the New Hampshire primary two days away, it seems this theme will continue, with real estate mogul Donald Trump and democratic socialist Bernie Sanders the unlikely frontrunners in their respective primaries. While the arrival of the outsiders will likely dominate the headlines of Wednesday’s newspapers however, of perhaps more importance to the race is the ‘parallel primary’ taking place within the Republican field: a four-way battle for the support of the establishment.
It has now been eight years since Barack Obama won the first Democratic primary in the 2008 election campaign, opening his victory speech that night in Iowa with reference to those who ‘said this day would never come’:
They said our sights were set too high. They said this country was too divided, too disillusioned to ever come together around a common purpose. But on this January night, at this defining moment in history, you have done what the cynics said we couldn’t do.