US presidential elections 2016: What is Super Tuesday?

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A month after the Iowa Caucuses when the race for the nomination for this year's US presidential election took off, the much-awaited Super Tuesday will be held. It is a day of reckoning for each candidate's campaign. It will expose those who can't compete while giving a decisive push to others in the race for the nomination.

A complete list of US presidential primary/caucus schedules and results

Here are some facts to know about the first Super Tuesday of 2016:

What is a Super Tuesday:

It refers to the Tuesday in February or March of a presidential election year when the most number of states hold primary elections to select delegates to the national conventions at which each of the Democratic and Republican party's presidential candidates are officially nominated.

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This day is crucial as more number of delegates cam be won on a Super Tuesday than any other single day of primaries. So every candidate will look to make the best use of the day to remain ahead in the race.

When did it start?

Super Tuesday isn't something the American Constitution mentions about. It started in 1988 owing a number of reasons.

First, it was developed to beat the "Iowa Syndrome". The state of Iowa votes first in the presidential race but it has been criticised for not representing the American electorate. It's a small state and candidates often spend a long time campaigning there. Super Tuesday, hence, was an idea to make the candidates engage in a more intense national campaign. The idea was to make it more national.

Secondly, The Southern Democrats aimed to boost the influence of their region by scheduling nine primaries in the South on the same day. This eventually turned out to be a Super Tuesday.

How many states will go to the polls (primaries/caucuses) on Super Tuesday 2016?

Eleven states will vote in all for both the Republican and Democratic parties.

For the Republicans, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia will hold primaries while Alaska and Minnesota will hold caucuses.

For the Democrats, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia will hold primaries while Colorado, Minnesota and the US territory of American Samoa will hold a caucus. Democrats abroad will also submit their votes.

Other events on this day will see Republican Party officials holding election-related events in Colorado, North Dakota and Wyoming and in the US territories of American Samoa and Guam. However, no votes will be cast. Party leaders in those states will assign delegates to candidates with inputs from party members.

Why on a Tuesday?

In 1845, before Florida, California and Texas became states or slavery had been stopped, the Congress required to choose a time for the Americans to vote.

Since the country was an agrarian one then, people had to travel in horse and carts from a distance to reach the county seat which took a day, a day to vote and also one day also to return, without disturbing the days of worship.

This left only Tuesday and Wednesday and since the latter was a market day, hence Tuesday remained the only choice. In 1875, the Congress made the Tuesday date for national elections and in 1914 for federal Senate polls.

However, voting on a Tuesday has become a concern now for it is a weekday. The participation of the common people in the primaries on the Super Tuesday might have been affected because of this factor.

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