Super Tuesday: Make or break for candidates

In light of recent events — Hillary Clinton’s modest win in Nevada, Donald Trump’s major victory in South Carolina and Jeb Bush exiting the race — Tuesday could be the day that decides it all.

Super Tuesday, as it has come to be known, is the day in which the greatest number of states cast their primary ballots. Eleven states, including Alabama, will hold both Republican and Democratic primaries.

Additionally, three other states will hold only Republican primaries.

On the Democratic end, with only Vermont — and to a lesser degree Massachusetts — looking like friendly territory for Sen. Bernie Sanders, Clinton has a chance at scoring a major victory. While a strong showing for Clinton on Super Tuesday probably would not force Sanders to exit the race, it would make him far easier to paint as a protest candidate, rather than a serious threat.

Though Sanders could theoretically recover from such an instance, it would be difficult to envision a favorable scenario for him. If Sanders does decently, however, Clinton’s window of opportunity will have basically closed, and Democrats will be in for a repeat of 2008, with the race going all the way into the summer.

Although it is unlikely, if Sanders does very well against Clinton, he could deal her a blow that she could not recover from. Super Tuesday may well be the Republican’s last window of opportunity to halt Donald Trump’s momentum.

If Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio — whose home turf is in theory the South — are unable to pull off some solid victories, then there is hardly any point in dragging the race out. As for Republican Gov. John Kasich, the path forward is nay uncharitable due to how out of step he has become with his party.

Ben Carson is in a similar boat; while he has exceeded expectations, it is hard to see him carrying any states at this point. When asked for insight, the JSU political science faculty expressed surprise that the race had come to this point.

Dr. Tim Barnett, professor of political science, said that if it were not for the high stakes on both sides, one could expect a great deal of raiding the other side’s primary — a situation that occurs in states where voters, who are not required to register as a member of a specific party, vote for the weakest candidate of the opposing party — since Democrats presumably have a better chance of victory against Trump, and Republicans a better chance against Sanders.

Former U.S. Congressman Glen Browder, professor emeritus of political science, is no stranger to the political game, and expressed concern for the volatility of the race. He said he wondered what the deep fractures within the two parties would mean for 2020.

Dr. Lori Owens, professor of political science, who is also a veteran of state and local politics, said the race has been “bizarre” so far. Owens said that Republicans’ window to defeat Trump seemed to be closing.

As for the Democrats, she said that Clinton will likely pull through, but that it had become obvious that she “has some challenges with voters that her husband and Barack Obama did not have.”

As for Alabama specifically, while the general climate seems to favor Trump and Clinton, there is little polling or ground support to back up these assumptions. As such, it should go without saying that every vote matters.

Kevin Spann
Political Columnist

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