Today is one of the biggest days of the political year, "Super Tuesday," in which a dozen states (and an additional territory) hold their nomination contests. It is a huge day that can make or break even the strongest political nominee. This year, it is even more important than previous years, because the nominations are so close. Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side and Donald Trump on the Republican side need to win a majority of the Super Tuesday competitions in order to keep their healthy leads.
Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia are all of the states that will hold contests for both Republicans and Democrats. Republicans will also hold their Alaskan caucuses. Democrats will hold caucuses in Colorado and traditional polls in American Samoa.
Voting is open throughout the day, but the polls do close at different times. According to CNN, polls in Alabama, Georgia, Vermont and Virginia close at 7 p.m. (all times Eastern). Massachusetts, Oklahoma and Tennessee close their polls at 8 p.m. Most Texas polls close at 8, but a few in the state’s western region will close an hour later. Arkansas' polls close at 8:30 p.m. Minnesota’s caucuses begin at 8. Alaska’s caucuses close around midnight.
There are a large number of delegates at stake on Super Tuesday, with 661 Republican allocations and a whopping 865 for Democrats, plus Superdelegates. According to party rules, no state that holds its primary before March 15 can give all of the delegates to the winner, meaning that even if someone like Bernie Sanders doesn't win ANY contest (which isn't going to happen), he may still be in the running.
The point of Super Tuesday is to thin the herd and allow for each party to only focus on one candidate. In the past, that has worked, but it doesn't seem like it will this year. Even if they lose every contest, at least Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders will still be in the running.
The only two candidates that are likely to drop out after today's results are Ohio Governor John Kasich and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who haven't won a single contest. However, the end is near for someone like Marco Rubio who hasn't won a single contest, unless he can pull out some big numbers.
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Those candidates who do decide to continue on won't have long to rest, as both the Democrats and Republicans will caucus in Kansas and poll in Louisiana on Saturday, March 5. Republicans will also vote in Kentucky and Maine, while Democrats will vote in Nebraska. On Sunday, Democrats go to the polls in Maine.