5 weird things you need to know about how Super Tuesday works.

Ladies and gentlemen of the electorate, Super Tuesday is upon us.

And no, that's not the day that "Batman v Superman" comes out, nor is it the day when your workplace cafeteria serves soup. (That's Soup-er Tuesday. Try the minestrone.)


Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Super Tuesday is the day when 13 states (as well as the territory of American Samoa and Democrats living abroad) hold either primaries or caucuses.

In honor of America's super-est of electoral weekdays, here are five things you might not know about Super Tuesday:

1. Super Tuesday is usually when one candidate pulls ahead — big time.

The fact is, Super Tuesday is such a massive lurch forward in the election process that whoever comes out on top is likely to be their party's nominee.

A nomination for the general election presidential race comes down to delegates (party representatives who are chosen to do the actual nominating at a convention). On Super Tuesday, roughly 20% of those representatives are up for grabs.

Obama accepting the nomination for president at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.

The Democratic candidates are competing for 865 delegates, which is about 18% of the total they have available.

The GOP is competing for fewer, with only 595 delegates at stake. But those 595 delegates make up 24% of the total GOP delegates, making today a pretty huge deal for whoever comes out on top.

Heading into Super Tuesday today, Hillary Clinton and Donald Drumpf are leading in most of the states, so we'll either see an incredibly anticlimactic confirmation of polling data or a pretty major upset. Either way, the winner today will probably be on a one-way train to general-election land.

That being said...

2. Super Tuesday is not (always) a winner-take-all scenario.

At least not in some states. In Alaska, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Vermont, and Virginia, delegates are awarded proportionately to the actual votes a candidate receives.

Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Texas have a winner-take-most policy, where the winner of the primary or caucus receives the majority of delegates — and, effectively, the support of that state.

Volunteer Rudy Anderson at Hillary Clinton's headquarters in Dallas. Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images.

All that nuance, however, doesn't stop Super Tuesday from being a proper competitive bloodbath. Several candidates are backed into make-or-break situations.

Ted Cruz, for example, is making a last stand in his home state of Texas that would make Gandalf proud:

"You shall NOT win Texas's 155 Republican delegates thereby all but invalidating me in this RAAAACEEEEE." — Ted Cruz the Grey, to the Balrog of Texas. GIF via "Lord of the Rings."

Many commentators have predicted that Cruz failing to win the state he represents would be too big a loss for his campaign to recover from.

As we've seen in all the early primaries, winning isn't just about the delegate math. The ever-growing number of undecided voters look at these primary events to inform them about where the race is going. Early wins often lead to later wins.

But speaking of delegates...

3. Super Tuesday has nothing to do with superdelegates.

Superdelegates are Democratic delegates whose hands aren't forced by the results of a primary or caucus. They can support whichever Democratic candidate they want, and they can even switch their decision right before the Democratic National Convention in July.

Only the Democrats have superdelegates, and if you're thinking there's not enough of them to make a big difference in the outcome, think again.

There are 712 total Democratic superdelegates, which is about 15% of the total Democratic delegates available. Even though there are about 40 undecided superdelegates in Super Tuesday states, their decisions won't necessarily be affected by the results of Super Tuesday.

Hillary Clinton has secured the vast majority of unmovable superdelegates already. Photo by Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images.

The Clinton vs. Sanders superdelegate split is not exactly down the middle. A whopping 451 superdelegates have said they will support Hillary Clinton, with Bernie Sanders boasting a mere 19. So even if Sanders wins every primary and caucus from now on, there will still be 451 delegates for Clinton (although they can change their minds up until late July).

We've already seen that little bit of weirdness in practice too. Despite Sanders' landslide victory in the New Hampshire primary, Hillary Clinton actually won more delegates in that state.

4. Super Tuesday was created to help nominate more moderate candidates.

The idea behind Super Tuesday when it became a thing in 1988 was to create a big primary day to counteract the momentum that candidates would get after early state primaries, a phenomenon known as "Iowa syndrome."

Early primaries in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina tended to produce non-Southern, progressive Democratic candidates with a lot of momentum. Those candidates would then go to primaries in the South and not do so well.

The plan was to group a bunch of Southern states together on an early day so moderate Southern Democrats would have more of a chance and the whole election process would be a little more national.

It didn't work at first — the first Super Tuesday saw Al Gore and Jesse Jackson going on to split the Southern states in their race.

Al Gore in 1988. Probably still mostly thinking about whales. Photo by Luke Frazza/AFP/Getty Images.

Of course, we have two of the least moderate candidates imaginable in a race that seems to be a contest to see who can yell "anti-establishment" the loudest.

That being said, on the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders had lots of momentum from the primaries earlier this year, especially in Northern states like New Hampshire, but with Clinton's recent huge win in South Carolina and her lead over Sanders in today’s 13 states, we might just get the moderate Democratic nomination that Super Tuesday's founding fathers dreamed of.

5. In a lot of states, you can vote on Super Tuesday even if you're not a party member.

In many cases, states hold "open" primaries and caucuses, meaning that even those who are not officially registered with a party can participate and vote. If that's you, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? GO GO GO!

(Seriously. I can wait. Find out if your state has an open primary here.)

With 39% of Americans not affiliated with a political party, Super Tuesday is a good opportunity for them to make their voices heard. It's easy to think of the 2016 election as something that's happening on the news or far away from you, but if you're in one of the Super Tuesday states, then the news is happening in your backyard. And you get to go — you get to decide.

If she can make it out, so can you. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

The stakes are high on Super Tuesday, as they are for the rest of the election.

Whether your main voting issue is health care, foreign policy, student debt, religious freedom, gun control, or, frankly, anything else, we have a roster of potential candidates with an incredibly wide array of views.

Not only are you voting for a candidate to participate in the general election, but you're voting for a candidate who might help fill a key Supreme Court vacancy, who might repeal (or not) a significant health care law, who might save a crumbling American infrastructure and take on a million other things that still need to get done.

This election isn't just happening on TV. It's happening for real, and it's happening right now. So whatever you do, make sure you vote.

More

Whenever someone's words or behavior are called out as racist, a few predictable responses always follow. One is to see the word "racist" as a vicious personal attack. Two is to vehemently deny that whatever was said or done was racist. And three is to pull out the dictionary definition of racism to prove that the words or behavior weren't racist.

Honestly, as soon as refers to the dictionary when discussing racism, it's clear that person has never delved deeply into trying to understand racism. It's a big old red flag, every time.

I'm not an expert on race relations, but I've spent many years learning from people who are. And I've learned that the reality of racism is nuanced and complex, and resorting to a short dictionary definition completely ignores that fact. The dictionary can't include all of the ways racism manifests in individuals and society, and the limitations of dictionary definitions make it a poor tool for discussing the topic.

Since "racism" is such a loaded term for many people, let's look at such limitations through a different complex word. Let's take "anxiety." According to Merriam-Webster, "anxiety" is defined as "apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness, usually over an impending or anticipated ill."

Now imagine thinking that you understand everything that encompasses anxiety from reading that dictionary definition. Imagine thinking you could recognize the signs of anxiety in someone based on that definition alone. Ridiculous, right? The dictionary doesn't explain that some people's anxiety manifests as anger, even though it does. It doesn't say that anxiety sometimes manifests as withdrawal or aloofness. It doesn't say that you often won't see obvious signs of fear or nervousness in someone experiencing anxiety.

The dictionary doesn't offer anything close to the reality of what anxiety is or looks like. It would be silly to say that someone isn't experiencing anxiety because they're not clearly showing signs of nervousness like the dictionary definition implies. Just as the dictionary definition of anxiety is not comprehensive, neither is the dictionary definition of racism. Yet people keep using it to "prove" that something or someone isn't racist.

Fox News analyst Brit Hume just pulled that trick on Twitter to try to back up his claim that Donald Trump's "go back to" statements to four Congresswomen of color weren't technically racist.


The first Merriam-Webster entry for "racism" reads "a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race."

Merriam-Webster

First of all, I'm not sure how this definition actually makes Trump's statements not racist. A belief is not always conscious, so even assuming that his racism is unconscious, a white man telling four women of color to "go back to" their countries of origin—despite three of them being born in the U.S. and the fourth being a naturalized citizen of the U.S.—is pretty objectively racist. No one knows exactly what is going on in the President's head, but such statements only being made to women of color would certainly be consistent with the behavior of someone with a belief in white people's inherent superiority.

But that simple definition isn't truly definitive, either. Shortly after Hume's tweet, Merriam-Webster pointed out a usage note for the word "racism," which clarifies that dictionaries do not provide the be-all-end-all definition of words.

Anti-racism advocates have tried time and time again to explain that racism is not as straightforward as someone saying, "I think I'm superior to people who don't share my skin color." Racism is almost never that blatant, and yet oodles of Americans refuse to call anything less than that kind of bold statement "racism." We have a long history showing exactly how white supremacy—the origin of racism in the U.S.—exerts itself in both strong and subtle ways, and thousands of hours and pages of education from experts describing how racism works on an individual and societal level. But people still insist on the simplistic narrative of "Racism=hating people of a different race."

I've seen many people, including Brit Hume, argue that the word racism has lost all meaning. Frankly, that's a copout. Racism—as both a conscious or unconscious belief of racial superiority and as a system of racial prejudice blended with power dynamics—has a broader meaning than one person hating another person for the color of their skin. But that doesn't make it meaningless.

I've also seen people complain that "everything is racist these days," but no, it's really not. We simply understand more about racism now, thanks to the field of race studies and to people of color offering their time and energy to explain it, so it's easier to identify in its various forms. In my experience, when someone's understanding of racism reaches a certain stage, they start recognizing it in places where ignorance or unconscious bias may have caused them to miss it in the past. That's not imagining racism where it doesn't exist or "calling everything racist these days"; that's simply seeing reality more clearly.

When you really dive deep into the historical, psychological, and sociological reality of racism in America, it becomes painfully obvious that racism is far more prevalent and enmeshed in our society than most people think. Until defensive, mostly-white folks stop automatically denying racism every time the word is used and stop throwing around dictionaries to avoid having to do that deep dive work, we're not going to make real headway on this issue.

Let's stop pretending that the definition and supposed overuse of the word "racism" is the problem, when the problem is racism, period.

Democracy
Photo by Hunters Race on Unsplash

If you're a woman and you want to be a CEO, you should probably think about changing your name to "Jeffrey" or "Michael." Or possibly even "Michael Jeffreys" or "Jeffrey Michaels."

According to Fortune, last year, more men named Jeffrey and Michael became CEOs of America's top companies than women. A whopping total of one woman became a CEO, while two men named Jeffrey took the title, and two men named Michael moved into the C-suite as well.

The "New CEO Report" for 2018, which looks at new CEOS for the 250 largest S&P 500 companies, found that 23 people were appointed to the position of CEO. Only one of those 23 people was a woman. Michelle Gass, the new CEO of Kohl's, was the lone female on the list.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

California has a housing crisis. Rent is so astronomical, one San Francisco company is offering bunk bedsfor $1,200 a month; Google even pledged$1 billion to help tackle the issue in the Bay Area. But the person who might fix it for good? Kanye West.

The music mogul first announced his plan to build low-income housing on Twitter late last year.

"We're starting a Yeezy architecture arm called Yeezy home. We're looking for architects and industrial designers who want to make the world better," West tweeted.

Keep Reading Show less
Cities

At Trump's 'Social Media Summit' on Thursday, he bizarrely claimed Arnold Schwarzenegger had 'died' and he had witnessed said death. Wait, what?!


He didn't mean it literally - thank God. You can't be too sure! After all, he seemed to think that Frederick Douglass was still alive in February. More recently, he described a world in which the 1770s included airports. His laissez-faire approach to chronology is confusing, to say the least.

Keep Reading Show less
Democracy