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.
Last night, Rick Santorum, former Senator for Pennsylvania, a man who compares homosexuality to bestiality, a man who considers pregnancy through rape a ‘gift from God’, a man who lost his last Senate election by over 700,000 votes, comprehensively routed frontrunner Mitt Romney in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri.
Yesterday, the voters of New Hampshire went to the polls and acted exactly as they were supposed to. Mitt Romney strolled to victory, Ron Paul fended off Jon Huntsman’s weak attempts to take second, the conservative vote was split almost equally between Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, and a few people threw a pity vote Rick Perry’s way. But still, there were lessons to be learned: not from what happened, so much as what didn’t happen in New Hampshire.