The sun rises over the Herndon Community Center in Herndon, Virginia as voters cast their ballots in the presidential primary at on Super Tuesday, March 1, 2016. (Photo by Allison Shelley/For The Washington Post)


Welcome to Super Tuesday! For those unaware, Super Tuesday is a day in the 2016 election on which voters in about a dozen states on each side will head to the polls or to caucus sites to cast their ballots for president. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, who have lead in both national polls and polls of Super Tuesday states, are expected to grow their leads in their respective parties’ nominating contests substantially.

But just how substantially depends on a lot of things. And the arcane delegate rules of each state — especially on the Republican side — make following 11 states on either side difficult (even for us!). So we thought we’d simplify it. Below is a small summary of the main subplot in each Super Tuesday state, listed helpfully in chronological order by poll closing time.



Republicans (76 delegates): A possible Rubio/Cruz upset?

Unlike most states on this list, the polling in Georgia has been somewhat competitive. Trump could win almost all of the delegates by breaking 50 percent of the vote — the threshold for triggering a “winner-take-all” situation — but with that looking less likely here, the big question is whether Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz can pull an upset or keep it close. At the very least, each will want to get to 20 percent — the threshold for winning some delegates both statewide and in each congressional district.

Democrats (102 delegates): Can Sanders win a few delegates?

He won’t win many, given he trails by between 30 and 40 points in polls, but given that state award at least four and as many as seven delegates in each congressional district, Sanders should be able to pick off a few here or there — provided he meets the 15 percent threshold, which it looks like he will.


Republicans (16): Can Trump get 50 percent?

The only poll we have here showed Trump leading Rubio by 15 points, 32-17, earlier this month, but it was a two-week-long poll. In other words, who knows? It is a Northeastern state, which should favor Trump, but it’s also Vermont, which is … unique. The state is a small delegate prize, but just like in Georgia , if Trump can get to 50 percent, he gets all the delegates.

Democrats (16): How massive is Sanders’s home-state win?

Sanders will win and will take all the delegates here; he led Clinton 86-10 and 83-9 in the only polls we have. Again, Vermont is unique.


Republicans (49): A delegate prize for all

Trump leads by between 13 and 23 points here, depending on whose poll you believe. There is no winner-take-all provision and no threshold, so getting to 50 percent or 20 percent doesn’t matter. That means Rubio and Cruz could both gain a significant amount of the state’s 49 delegates, without worrying about not getting any.

Democrats (95): A somewhat competitive (relatively speaking) Southern state

Polling here shows Clinton up between 17 and 27 points. She’ll win the lion’s share of delegates, but Sanders will get some. And Northern Virginia will likely be of some help to him.


Republicans (50): Can Trump get 50 percent?

Donald Trump is expected to win handily, with a Monmouth University poll showing him at 42 percent and Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz at 19 percent and 16 percent. If Trump breaks 50 percent, though, he will get all or almost all of the state’s 50 delegates, and he will probably thank Jeff Sessions for it. If he falls short, Rubio and Cruz will want to at least hit the 20 percent delegate threshold.

Democrats (53): South Carolina, Part 2

The state’s heavy black population means Clinton is expected to win by a massive margin — just as she did in South Carolina on Saturday. She won that state by more than 47 points, and Monmouth’s poll has her leading in Alabama by 48.


Republicans (42): How big is the state for Trump?

It will be difficult for Trump to win all of the delegates here, given there is no winner-take-all threshold. But the most recent poll, from Emerson College, shows Trump cresting 50 percent. This appears to be a very good state for him, and it’s very interesting to note that 20,000 Democrats have changed to independent of Republican since Jan. 1. As our own Ben Teris notes, that could be all about Trump speaking their language.

Democrats (91): A near-must-win for Sanders

Sanders is running close to Clinton here — within single digits according to all recent polling. And given it’s a Northeastern state, he really needs to win it if he wants to make the case that he’s viable going forward. Sanders will trail badly in the delegate chase overall; he needs to point to several state wins to make his case. And Massachusetts is a great opportunity for that.


Republicans (43): A delegate prize for all

Trump has a relatively modest but significant lead in most polling here, meaning he probably won’t hit the 50 percent he needs to trigger a winner-take-all situation. Rubio and Cruz will need to hit 15 percent to win delegates at all, but they’ll probably want to be much closer than that, given this isn’t one of Trump’s strongest states.

Democrats (38): A must-win for Sanders

See the above on Massachusetts — except that Oklahoma is probably a slightly bigger must-win. Even though it’s in the South, it doesn’t have a large black population. Polling there has basically shown the state to be a toss-up. Sanders will really want to win here, as it’s his best shot at winning a primary (caucuses exempted here) outside of his home state of Vermont.


Republicans (58): Can Rubio and Cruz hit 20 percent?

The only recent poll — from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal — showed Trump with a big lead. But the state’s winner-take-all threshold is 67 percent, and he ain’t getting that. Thus, Cruz and Rubio can win some delegates — as long as they hit 20 percent each. Of course, they’ll want to do better than just that, but that’s the baseline.

Democrats (67): Clinton Country

Clinton led by 26 points in the last two polls here. That means she’ll likely win a significant lion’s share of the delegates.


Republicans (40): Who knows?

The most recent poll here was from early February, right after Cruz won Iowa, and it had him, Trump and Rubio basically in a dead heat. Since then? Nothing. There is a 50 percent winner-take-all threshold and a 15 percent threshold for getting delegates. Judging by that early poll and the way the race has gone from there, Trump is probably the favorite, but everyone figures to get delegates.

Democrats (32): Clinton Country

Sensing a trend here? Welcome to another state that Clinton will walk away from with a heavy share of the delegates. Except, this time, it might be as much about the fact that she’s the former first lady (of the state) as about the significant black population.


Republicans (155): Can Cruz win one to keep his campaign alive?

This is Cruz’s home state. He should win it. He leads in the polls. He should win it. There are lots of delegate at stake. He needs to win it. But that’s just to stay alive. Even if he does well here, he may not win another state, and that’ll make it hard to stop Trump’s nomination. Still, if there’s one state to watch tonight, as Philip Bump notes, it’s Texas.

Democrats (222): Clinton. Country.

Texas is important on the Democratic side, too, because it has 222 delegates (!). A huge majority of those should go to Clinton — she leads by as much as 42 points in polls here — and that will offset whatever delegates Sanders can win from any states he manages to win, in one fell swoop. It is proportional, so Sanders should be able to win at least a few dozen. That will be little consolation.

Republicans — Alaska and Minnesota (66): Late opportunities for Cruz and Rubio

In none of these states do we have any polling since the actual voting began. Rubio did lead a mid-January Minnesota poll, but who knows where things stand now? If nothing else, a good organization should do better in these states, which suggests Cruz and Rubio could over-perform. Can they win a couple of these lesser-known caucuses and turn them into momentum like Rick Santorum did in 2012? Alas, results here might not come in until the wee hours or even tomorrow, after the narrative for the night has been set.

Democrats — Colorado and Minnesota (143): Can Sanders grab Minnesota?

See above. We just don’t know. Clinton led big in the only polling we have, but it’s all old. Could Sanders’s organizing and late emphasis on Minnesota give him a rare Super Tuesday win? Like Rubio and Cruz, perhaps that could help arrest the narrative of a Super Tuesday massacre. Or it could just be a footnote.