To the untrained ear, Super Tuesday probably sounds more like some over-the-top WWE event than one of the most important days in presidential politics. But leave it to politics to always keep you guessing, and sometimes it's as much gaudy wrestling match as buttoned-up debate.
And Super Tuesday is no different. It's a key stop on the road to the Democratic presidential nomination, and this year, it will more than likely determine the fate of the remaining Democratic presidential hopefuls.
On Tuesday (March 2), 10 states vote to select a Democratic presidential nominee to face President Bush in the November election. Of those 10, two are among the states with the most delegates — California and New York — and a third, Ohio, has traditionally been a major deciding factor in the nomination race. Together, the Super Tuesday states account for 1,151 delegates. And with only 2,162 needed to secure the nomination, Super Tuesday becomes super important to any candidate trying to stay in the race.
That said, a 10-state sweep would be a major coup for any candidate. And this year, with a substantial portion of the race over and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry carrying all but two of those states that have already voted, polls and pundits alike are predicting just that for Kerry. If they turn out to be right, Kerry's nomination would be almost inevitable, forcing his leading competitor, North Carolina Senator John Edwards, to rethink his next move.
Kerry enters Super Tuesday with 688 delegates to Edwards' 207, according to The Associated Press, which means that, if Kerry were to win all of Tuesday's delegates, he would be just 323 short of the nomination. Edwards, who seems to have all but given up hope for the majority of the Super Tuesday states, appears to be angling for a win in Georgia, the only state in the South — where Edwards considers his hold strongest — voting today. A victory there would keep his candidacy alive until March 9, when voters in southern states Florida, Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana head to the polls.
Of course, even if Edwards does manage to proceed as planned, the end of his candidacy may still be just around the corner. But supporters — and Democrats across the board — might not be ready to let him go altogether. More and more, murmurings of a Kerry/Edwards ticket, with Edwards as the vice presidential nominee, are surfacing, but Edwards dutifully protests and comes across as more foe than friend of Kerry when the issue comes up. "We're still in a fight for the nomination," he told CBS' Dan Rather at a debate in New York Sunday.
Ultimately, no matter what the numbers seem to say, a late surge for Edwards in any of Tuesday's states could turn things around. And no one is more cognizant of that than Edwards himself. "My responsibility is to get this message through to voters," The New York Times quoted him as saying. "There's no question that national momentum has an impact on these races. But as long as people hear this message of hope and optimism and real change from outside Washington, it works."
If you live in one of the Super Tuesday states and want to have a say about who gets on the Democratic ticket in November, find your local polling place and cast a ballot. Tuesday night is also MTV's monthly Meetup with Rock the Vote. If you want to get together with other young people who care about the issues as much as you do, go to Chooseorlose.com and find a Meetup in your neighborhood.
For more political news, insight into the 2004 presidential election and information on registering to vote, check out Choose or Lose.