This year, “Super Tuesday” may not be very exciting. In all likelihood, Donald Trump and Joe Biden will emerge victorious from the most important day of the American primaries. Their inauguration to wear the colors of the GOP and the Democratic Party in the presidential election will therefore be nothing more than a health journey.

“Super Tuesday” is the decisive stage in the selection of candidates for the presidential election. These are designated by delegates from the “GOP” and the Democratic Party. Each state votes to designate these delegates during a caucus, in which only activists participate, or in a primary during which everyone can vote. “Super Tuesday” is decisive because a large number of states vote on that day. In 2024, there will be fifteen of them. More than a third of the delegates are at stake, 874 on the Republican side and 1,420 on the Democratic side. It is commonly accepted that candidates who win “Super Tuesday” win the nomination to compete in the presidential election. There has never been a counterexample.

For Jean-Eric Branaa*, lecturer at Paris II University and specialist in the United States, we could almost speak of “Super Month of March”, since the majority of ballots take place this month. Next Tuesday, four states vote (simultaneous Democratic and Republican primaries in Georgia, Mississippi and Washington; Republican caucus in Hawaii) and five more the following Tuesday, the 19th (primaries in Arizona, Florida, Illinois , Kansas and Ohio).

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“Super Tuesday” is a relatively recent electoral practice, since it gradually emerged in the 1980s. The first occurrence dates from the 1984 campaign, won by Ronald Reagan. For three weeks, three “Super Tuesdays” in five states each are then organized. “The objective is to bring out serious candidates,” explains Anne Deysine**, professor emeritus at Paris-Nanterre and specialist in the United States. Those who will have the financial resources to pay for planes and political advertisements and campaign in fifteen states at once.

“This process was necessary because it proved very favorable for each of the parties,” adds Jean-Eric Branaa. “Super Tuesday” allows both to kill the match internally and to create momentum for the designated candidate.” By this quasi-designation of a candidate, the parties in fact reduce the risks of internal division. “I bet that Nikky Haley (Donald Trump’s competitor for the nomination of the Republican Party – Editor’s note) will withdraw in the end, Jean-Eric Branaa wants to believe. The Republican Party would have an interest in it: it only has feathers to lose by leaving in the race a candidate who takes aim at Trump.”

At the beginning of 1992, Bill Clinton was on a very poor path to winning the nomination. The Democratic Party candidate has failed in most previous primaries. But everything changes with “Super Tuesday”. On March 10, Bill Clinton won this major election, which ultimately allowed him to be nominated by the left and win the White House. “The 1992 episode made “Super Tuesday” a legend,” concludes Anne Deysine.

“Super Tuesday” in 2008 was also a landmark due to its exceptional scale. That year, 24 states – almost half – voted on the same day. Everyone then used their superlative to designate this major electoral event: we spoke of “Super Mega Tuesday”, “Tuesday of Destiny”, or even “Tsunami Tuesday”.

No real suspense for this “Super Tuesday” 2024. On the Republican side, former President Donald Trump is the ultra-favorite. The billionaire has won all previous elections, with the exception of Washington D.C., and already has 247 delegates out of the 1,215 needed to be invested.

The former president’s legal problems should not prevent him from being nominated. “Only two really threaten Trump,” analyzes Jean-Eric Branaa. That of the top secret documents kept in his Florida residence and that of a possible coup attempt during the storming of the Capitol. Both are postponed indefinitely.” As for Nikki Haley, his latest GOP competitor, her chances are more than slim. A loser in every state, she only won Washington D.C. and was already beaten everywhere else, even in South Carolina where she was governor.

On the Democratic side, the nomination of Joe Biden will be a formality. The outgoing president could reach, or at least get closer to, the 1,968 delegates needed to win. His competitors, Minnesota elected official Dean Phillips and writer Marianne Williamson, are already far behind him. “The victories of Trump on the Republican side and of Biden on the Democratic side are certain,” insists Anne Deysine from the outset.

*Jean-Eric Branaa is the author of Geopolitics of the United States (PUF, 2022).

** Anne Deysine is the author of The United States and Democracy (Paperback, 2019).