Trump and Clinton Ahead After “Super Tuesday”

Kylar Hoge

A photo of the two frontrunners, taken at Donald Trump's third wedding.
A photo of the two frontrunners, taken at Donald Trump’s third wedding.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton came out ahead after the “Super Tuesday” presidential primaries on March 1st. The results conformed to many of the predictions of pundits and political forecasters alike, although there were a couple of surprises. Many states conducted or released so few polls that it was difficult to gauge their respective predilections. This was evident in the few upsets of the night, such as Cruz winning Alaska and Oklahoma, or Rubio’s saving grace win in Minnesota. Even the political forecasting website 538, much reputed for its reliability in predicting outcomes, had Trump winning in Oklahoma.

Democratic results are as follows: Clinton won Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia; Sanders won Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Vermont. The results for Republicans are as follows: Trump won Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia; Cruz won Alaska, Oklahoma, and Texas; Rubio only won Minnesota. These results are meaningless without knowing the total delegate count. Although pledged delegates haven’t been completely tabulated yet, rough overall totals are as follows: Clinton 596, Sanders 407, Trump 319, Cruz 226, Rubio 110, Kasich 25, and Carson 8. In viewing these rough totals, keep in mind that unlike the Republicans, Democrats have “superdelegates”. Superdelegates are typically elected officials or prominent party members who aren’t required to vote for any particular candidate. Although the exact superdelegate breakdown– there are 712 in all– may be transient, it is safe to assume that the vast majority of them will go to Hillary Clinton. Taking into account the presumed predilections of these superdelegates, Clinton’s rough total is around 1,058 and Sanders’ should be about 431. To win the nomination, Democrats need 2,382 delegates and Republicans need 1,237.

It would be tedious for me to enumerate the idiosyncratic rules each state’s Republican Party has regarding delegate allocation, so those interested should refer to the following chart provided by “RealClearPolitics”, a website dedicated to aggregating election-related information. As a review; “number of delegates” refers to the total delegate count; primaries involve simply voting whereas caucuses are long tedious negotiation-like procedures, and typically have lower voter turnout as a result; in closed primaries only a candidate’s respective party can vote, but in open primaries independents may also vote; the threshold is the minimum percentage of the vote for a candidate’s party they have received, if it is below the threshold the person receives no delegates; finally, the ceiling refers to the minimum percentage of the vote required to receive all of a state’s allotted delegates, although if the delegates aren’t “pooled” then a candidate surpassing the ceiling would only receive all of the state’s at-large (state-wide) delegates and would then receive congressional district delegates on a proportional basis.

Chart contrived by the following article from RealClearPolitics:
Chart contrived by the author of the following article from RealClearPolitics:

If these rules seem complicated to you, you’ll be happy to know that the Democratic Party’s primary rules are relatively simple by comparison. Delegates are simply allotted proportionally above a 15% threshold.

Finally, to put all of this in perspective, the political forecasting website “538” has a helpful page charting the rough delegate trajectory necessary for each of the candidates to win the nomination. At this point, the candidates have reached the following percentages of their target: Clinton 115%, Trump 114%, Sanders 84%, Cruz 61% and Rubio 46%.