The much-anticipated Super Tuesday elections panned out as planned for Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. The day’s voting results don’t boast much shock value, but their implications hold the key for the rest of the campaign.
It’s not over … yet
Though Clinton won seven of the 11 states, she can’t take it as a coronation. Thanks to the delegate allocation process, which isn’t winner-take-all in the Super Tuesday states, Sanders still received two-thirds as many delegates as Clinton.
The Vermont senator may have only claimed victory in four states, but that doesn’t mean he irreparably lost his footing. Sanders is still in it to win it — just like Hillz — his time to play catch-up, however, is running out.
The southern vote went for Clinton
In many ways, Clinton’s South Carolina victory last weekend predicted the overwhelming support she received from other southeastern states — including Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia — on Super Tuesday. She also won Arkansas, the state governed by her husband for almost a decade.
According to USA Today, Clinton won eight out of 10 African-American votes in each southern state besides Oklahoma. Sanders’ lesser support among the African-American community — who make up over a quarter of the Super Tuesday electorate — was one of the largest contributing factors to his loss, just as it was in South Carolina.
Texas was key
Clinton’s biggest claim to fame on Super Tuesday was, hands down, Texas. The state offers up a whopping 252 Democratic delegates and she received about 65 percent of them. The win, however, had been expected for weeks and turned out to be much less exciting than Cruz’s attempt to martyr his campaign by invoking The Alamo.
Sanders takes Vermont, but not Massachusetts
Predictably, Sanders saw a huge turnout in his home state of Vermont, where he annihilated Clinton with 86 percent of the vote. He also prevailed in Colorado, Minnesota and Oklahoma, where polls had predicted potential wins for him.
The big shock, and certainly most debilitating in this election, was Sanders’ loss in Massachusetts. The ultra-liberal and mostly white state full of college students (aka millennials) should have been an easy swipe for the Vermont senator, who lost to Clinton by just a point. The state was also incredibly important because it is tied with Georgia for the second-greatest number of delegates after Texas.
Since the New Hampshire primary, when Massachusetts residents trekked across state lines to attend Sanders’ rallies, it seemed as though Sanders had the vote locked down. However, CBS News points out that Clinton had endorsements from a number of local Massachusetts legislators who were “knocking doors” for her.
Sanders’ marginal loss sparks questions about his ability to win the vote in even the most ideal states, especially when Clinton has more support from fellow politicians and super delegates.
Progressivism vs. Realism
As the candidates moved away from the mostly white, “first-to-vote” states of Iowa and New Hampshire, Clinton unarguably gained an advantage as the electorate became more diverse and less ideologically liberal.
In a sense, Sanders — who markets himself as a democratic socialist — has outlined Clinton’s more moderate supporters for her. During the Democratic Debate on Feb. 4, Sanders may have lost some moderate voters by refusing to water down his ideological stances which stand in stark contrast to Clinton’s self-proclaimed status as a realist.
Up next …
If Sanders wants to emerge past Clinton, he needs to revamp his campaign and reach out to minority voters in Florida ahead of the March 15 primaries.
Leading up to these big states’ elections will be another round of elections on March 8. FiveThirtyEight calls the eight-day stretch of time between March 8 and March 15 the most important period on the Democratic calendar and it will give us a much clearer sense of how things will ultimately shake out for the Dems.
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Header image: Getty
*An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Florida and Ohio were “winner-take-all” primaries when they in fact allocate their delegates proportionally.