History of ‘Super Tuesday’

Election in USA

Seminar Paper, 2008

8 Pages, Grade: 2,0


Englisch, Sportwissenschaft, Geschichte

This term paper is about the famous ’Super Tuesday’ in America. First I am going to explain why this topic is interesting for me and then I’ll take a look at the history and what relevance ‘Super Tuesday’ has for the primaries and the candidates. I am going to leave out to explain what primaries and caucasuses are because it would go beyond the scope of this term paper.

I took on this topic because in 2000/2001 I spent one year at an American high school in Wisconsin and lived with a host family. That was the first time I took notice of this day and the primaries in particular. Ever since that, it fascinated me and now I have a chance to find out more about this topic. I arrived in Stevens Point, Wisconsin in August so I did not exactly experience ‘Super Tuesday’, but it was talked about an awful lot in school in my American History class. I was also dragged to a speech of Al Gore in Madison. It was absolutely fascinating but I must admit, I thought the people around me were totally nuts. All this screaming and yelling at this gathering and putting stickers on the car so everybody could see whom they supported. I think Germans cannot understand this hype since we do not get to choose the party’s candidate for an election and I think it is crazy that the primaries take place almost a year ahead of the election in November. Sometimes I do not understand how Americans cannot get sick of this long lasting political back and forth but it was an experience I will cherish forever. And after reading a comment by state Rep. Robert F. Hagan of Youngstown, D-60th, about the primaries and caucuses, who said that “if the Nov. 4 presidential election is the political equivalent of the Super Bowl, then Thursday's Iowa caucuses and the Jan. 8 New Hampshire primary are the opening games. You can't get to the Super Bowl until you win the playoffs.”[1], it becomes more obvious and you can understand this hype maybe a little bit and especially me since I experienced Super Bowl as well, which was a fantastic Sunday. So I found this comment rather true and very fitting. It was weird to compare sports to politics but it reflects two of the most important factors in American society.

But what is ‘Super Tuesday’? Super Tuesday obviously has a very modern history and usually refers to a Tuesday in February or March during a presidential election year in the United States of America. On that day many states “hold primary elections to select delegates to national conventions at which each party's presidential candidates are officially nominated”.[2] And because so many states hold primaries on that day simultaneously, many delegates can be won on this particular day than on any other day during the election. So every nominee tries to do very well on Super Tuesday in order to get as many delegates as possible and to, in some cases, even make the run already to secure the party’s nomination as their presidential candidate. The importance can also be seen in the quote “Candidates drool over it. Campaign managers turn gray from it. Pollsters try, but often fail, to predict it. It's the second-most important Tuesday in the American political process: It's Super Tuesday, the day when nearly half the states in the union hold political primaries, caucuses and conventions to determine their candidates for president.”[3]

It is not the clear when ‘Super Tuesday’ was established in the political vocabulary. Some say “the phrase ‘Super Tuesday’ has been used to refer to presidential primary elections since at least 1984 […] when a large number of states held presidential primaries. “‘Super Tuesday’ was designed by southern Democrats after Mondale's nomination in 1984. They wanted to use their weight to nominate a more moderate candidate who would better reflect their interests”[4]. In fact, the “1984 primary season had three ‘Super Tuesdays’, ending with ‘Super Tuesday III’, when Walter Mondale finally secured the Democratic nomination”[5]. Others say that “in 1988, the phrase ‘Super Tuesday’ entered the political vocabulary. On March 8, the first regional group of primaries were held […] in […] the South in selecting the Democratic nominee for President.”[6]

On March 8, 1988 the primaries were held in 9 Southern states such as Texas, Florida, Tennessee, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama, and Georgia. “Political party planners in the Southern states hoped that by simultaneously holding their primaries, they could increase the strength of conservative candidates, over candidates they considered to be more liberal”[7] and in an effort to boost the importance of the South. Today, the Southern states of Texas, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi continue to hold their primaries on the same day, typically the Tuesday after Super Tuesday. Following ‘Super Tuesdays’ have taken place on March 10,1992, March 12, 1996; March 7, 2000; and March 2, 2004. In 2000, 16 states held primaries on Super Tuesday, the largest presidential primary election day in U.S. history until 2008. In 2008 the outrages number of 24 states held primaries or caucasuses. Since there were so many states voting on one day, ‘Super Tuesday’ was renamed in various ways. For example Super Duper Tuesday[8] , Mega Tuesday[9], Giga Tuesday[10], and Tsunami Tuesday[11].


[1] http://www4.vindy.com/content/local_regional/371130330062404.php

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Tuesday

[3] http://www.howstuffworks.com/super-tuesday.htm

[4] http://www.realclearpolitics.com/horseraceblog/2008/01/is_1992_the_model_1.html

[5] http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,951168,00.html

[6] http://www.pbs.org/newshour/retro/super_tuesday_88.html

[7] http://usgovinfo.about.com/cs/politicalsystem1/a/supertuesday.htm

[8] http://edition.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/03/15/california.primary/index.html

[9] http://blogs.twincities.com/city_hall_scoop/2008/01/mega_tuesday_1.html

[10] http://www.observer.com/2008/news-producers-gird-their-loins-giga-tuesday

[11] http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18593870/

Excerpt out of 8 pages


History of ‘Super Tuesday’
Election in USA
University of Freiburg  (Englisches Seminar)
American Society Today
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
366 KB
Amerika, Election, Obama, McCain, Super Tuesday, Election System
Quote paper
Janina Maier (Author), 2008, History of ‘Super Tuesday’, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/142304


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