Super Tuesday 2024 explained - and how Donald Trump is maximising his chances

Super tuesday
Super tuesday
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Super Tuesday can make or break a presidential candidate’s bid to win their party’s nomination - and Donald Trump hopes next year’s will mark the start of his White House comeback.

With more than a dozen states voting on Super Tuesday, it is the most consequential date in the campaign calendar apart from election day itself.

In 2024, Super Tuesday falls on March 5 - just a day after Mr Trump’s first federal criminal trial is expected to begin.

Since Joe Biden is an incumbent president seeking re-election, the Democratic primary is largely a procedural affair this year.

But all eyes will be on the Republican primary, with Mr Trump hoping the day will mark the defeat of his last remaining Republican rival, Nikki Haley, as the former president seeks a second term in power.

The primary race is a state-by-state contest and the goal is to win a majority of pledged delegates, who then formally select the nominee at the party’s convention over the summer.

In 2024, there are an estimated 2,470 delegates, around 2,365 of whom are pledged delegates and 104 unpledged delegates.

To win the nomination, a candidate must receive support from a majority of delegates - an estimated 1,236.

When did Super Tuesday originate and why is it important?

The phrase “Super Tuesday” dates back to the 1980s, when several southern states moved their primaries and caucuses forward to increase their importance in the race, to counteract the dominance of Iowa and New Hampshire.

The states voting on “Super Tuesday” changes from year to year. This year two of the largest, California and Texas, will cast their votes on Super Tuesday.

Which states are voting?

The Democratic Party also has primaries and caucuses on Super Tuesday, but as Mr Biden is not facing a serious challenger, the focus is on the Republican race.

Alabama, Alaska,  Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia will all vote on March 5.

What time will we know the results of Super Tuesday?

Polls normally close around 7pm or 8pm local time meaning some states will have declared by the early hours of Wednesday morning. However, some states, like California, may take some time to announce their results.

What happened in 2016?

In 2016, the last time Mr Trump competed in an open Republican primary, he clinched the nomination by late May.

In 2020, as the incumbent, Mr Trump did not face a serious challenge and became the presumptive nominee by mid-March.

Mr Biden faced a longer road to winning the Democratic nomination in 2020, securing enough delegates by June after a lengthy challenge from left-wing senator Bernie Sanders - similar to Hillary Clinton’s protracted route to the nomination in 2016 and Barack Obama’s in 2008.

What are 2024’s presidential candidates hoping for?

Nikki Haley has also travelled to the border in Texas - another Super Tuesday state - to campaign.

After her disappointing showing in Iowa and New Hampshire, Ms Haley needs momentum going in to Super Tuesday and is aiming for victory in South Carolina on Feb 24.

Nikki Haley campaigning in New Hampshire
Nikki Haley campaigning in New Hampshire - CJ GUNTHER/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Scott Golden, chairman of the Tennessee GOP, has pointed out that early voting in his state also begins in mid-February. “I know everybody’s focused on Iowa and New Hampshire, but it is worth taking a little time out to come to Tennessee,” he said.

“It’s states like Alabama that are going to be where (Trump) hopes to make a lot of ground,” said Alabama Republican Party Chairman John Wahl. “And if other candidates are going to beat him, they have to compete with him in those states.”

Trump’s built-in advantage

Mr Trump’s team has done everything it can to maximise his frontrunner status by encouraging state officials to make the rules governing the allocation of delegates as favourable to him as possible.

Other changes were laid in place in 2020 when Mr Trump was running virtually uncontested.

Some of the changes include winner-take-all contests or rules requiring candidates to earn higher percentages of the vote to claim any delegates.

Changes to the process in Nevada and in particular California, which has more delegates than any other state, are likely to prove a major boost.

Donald Trump's team has done everything it can to maximise his frontrunner status
Donald Trump's team has done everything it can to maximise his frontrunner status - Matthew Putney

Ben Ginsberg, a legal expert on the Republican primary process, told The Telegraph Mr Trump’s campaign had orchestrated “an excellent, well-planned out effort to maximise the rules of each individual state to their benefit”.

“A campaign needs to look at the delegate selection process holistically,” he said, calling the changes “really significant for maximising” Mr Trump’s chances.

Mr Ginsberg said if Mr Trump maximises his advantages in California on Super Tuesday, the race is “certainly over” for his Republican rivals.

What do the latest polls say?

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