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What you need to know about Super Tuesday primary elections

Bernie Sanders frontrunner ahead of Super Tuesday

Fourteen states are holding primaries on Tuesday, March 3, commonly known as "Super Tuesday." American Samoa and Democrats abroad, which represents Americans living outside of the U.S., are also holding caucuses on Super Tuesday.

More than 1,300 delegates are up for grabs on Tuesday, making it one of the most important days of the primary season. By comparison, only 155 delegates are awarded in the first four states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. If one candidate achieves a wide delegate lead on Super Tuesday, it could give that candidate the momentum that could be hard for other candidates to overcome.

Which states are voting on Super Tuesday and what time do polls close?

Here's the hour-by-hour breakdown (ET):

7 p.m.: 115 pledged delegates

  • Vermont (16 pledged delegates)
  • Virginia (99 pledged delegates)

7:30 p.m.: 110 pledged delegates

  • North Carolina (110 pledged delegates)

8 p.m.: 268 pledged delegates

  • Alabama (52 pledged delegates)
  • Maine (24 pledged delegates)
  • Massachusetts (91 pledged delegates)
  • Oklahoma (37 pledged delegates)
  • Tennessee (64 pledged delegates)

8:30 p.m.: 31 pledged delegates

  • Arkansas (31 pledged delegates)

9 p.m.: 370 pledged delegates

  • Texas (228 pledged delegates)
  • *Most of Texas closes at 8:00 p.m. ET
  • Colorado (67 pledged delegates)
  • Minnesota (75 pledged delegates)

10 p.m.: 29 pledged delegates

  • Utah (29 pledged delegates)

11 p.m.: 415 pledged delegates

  • California (415 pledged delegates)

12 a.m.: 6 pledged delegates

  • American Samoa: 6 Pledged Delegates

March 10: 13 pledged delegates

  • Democrats Abroad: 13 Pledged Delegates

Some facts:

  • Up to this point, the early contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina have only awarded 155 total delegates to the Democratic National Convention. The Super Tuesday states offer about 8.5 times that, with 1,344 delegates up for grabs, or some 34% of the nearly 4,000 total delegates.
  • California offers the largest delegate prize, with 415. While the polls close at 11 p.m. ET, it's not certain how long it'll take for the votes to be counted. The state allows voting by mail, and 16 million of the 20 million registered voters requested mail-in ballots. Ballots will be counted as long as they're postmarked by primary day and received by Friday. Bernie Sanders has a substantial lead in the state, according to the most recent CBS News poll.
  • The second-biggest delegate prize on Super Tuesday is Texas, which will award 228 pledged national delegates. Sanders leads in that state too in polls going into Super Tuesday. As is the case in California, Sanders is polling well with Hispanic voters.  Biden rode into Texas on the wings of his big win in South Carolina, and on the eve of Super Tuesday, was endorsed in person by the two moderates who dropped their presidential bids this week, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar. Mike Bloomberg has saturated Texas with $47 million in advertising. His next closest competitor on the airwaves in the state was Sanders, with $5 million. About 1 million people voted early or by mail.
  • Elizabeth Warren and Sanders will be trying to win their home states of Massachusetts and Vermont, respectively. Minnesota is also voting, but Amy Klobuchar dropped her presidential candidacy Monday.
  • Early voting has already been taking place in some of these states. But the polls will open as early as 5 a.m. on the East Coast, with the last polls closing at 12 a.m. ET in American Samoa. It is unclear at this point when comprehensive election results will be available.
  • Overall, more than $240 million has been spent by the candidates (including Tom Steyer and Buttigieg) on ads hitting the airwaves in Super Tuesday states.  
  • In addition to the presidential primaries Super Tuesday, 120 congressional districts will also be holding primaries on Super Tuesday, and about three-quarters of these are in the delegate-rich states of Texas and California. Here's some interesting House races to watch on Tuesday.

Candidates to watch

Bernie Sanders

Sanders, who finished won the popular vote in Iowa and won New Hampshire and Nevada, claims that his campaign "can bring millions of people into the political process who normally do not vote." His opponents fear he'll do the opposite, though, given his advocacy of multi-trillion-dollar programs like Medicare for All and free college and because he is a democratic socialist, rather than a Democrat. Sanders is leading in several states going into Super Tuesday, however, and has a large, loyal and motivated grassroots organization to turn out his key constituencies, especially young people and people of color, especially Hispanics. He's likely to perform well in California and Texas.

His performance with black voters has been less impressive so far, as was the case four years ago. In 2016, Sanders lost heavily throughout the South to Hillary Clinton, beaten in Alabama by a virtual landslide of 78% to 19% and failing to win a single county in the state. Overwhelmingly, black primary voters, who made up 54% of the electorate, voted for Clinton 91% to 6% in exit polling. Only neighboring Mississippi awarded a larger margin of victory for Clinton over Sanders.

Joe Biden

Biden is going into Super Tuesday on a wave of African-American support from his win in South Carolina, and his strong poll numbers with black voters may help him in many of the states with large numbers of black voters, including Alabama, Virginia and North Carolina. As noted above, though, Sanders has more support among Hispanic voters.

He's also racking up a number of endorsements after that win. In addition to the coalescing of his recent opponents around his candidacy, with Buttigieg's and Klobuchar's endorsements Monday, a number of moderate and establishment Democrats announced their endorsements of him, including former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, fellow Virginians Senator Tim Kaine, Congressman Bobby Scott and Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton, who unseated a GOP incumbent in 2018. Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth also announced their support. Their endorsements going into Super Tuesday lends credence to an argument Biden articulated to CBS News' Caitlin Huey-Burns in an interview Monday. 

"There's an awful lot of people who are running for office who don't want to run with Bernie at the top of the ticket as a self-proclaimed socialist," Biden said. "Imagine here in Texas or in North Carolina or in Georgia, the idea, if I said to you, 'This is an open test. You're running for office. Do you want a very popular, self-proclaimed socialist or a popular mainstream Democrat running at the top of the ticket?' My guess is in most states, they'd say no."   

Mike Bloomberg

Super Tuesday marks the first time Mike Bloomberg will be on the ballot, his first opportunity to see whether his hundreds of millions of dollars spent on television advertising will translate to a substantial number of votes and delegates.

The sheer number of delegates is one reason Mike Bloomberg bypassed the early states altogether, knowing he could potentially scoop up enough delegates in the Super Tuesday states to become one of the top-tier candidates almost overnight. So far, Bloomberg has spent about $500 million on advertising, a staggering amount.

For other candidates, Super Tuesday will mark their last chance to show they still deserve to be in the race. 

After Super Tuesday, the next primaries will be held on March 10, when Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Washington vote.

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