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.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

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