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Historical election trends for Clinton, Trump after Super Tuesday

March 2, 2016 by Scott Bomboy


In the aftermath of last night's Super Tuesday elections and caucuses, here's a look at how the four most-recent primary seasons panned out after the Super Tuesday votes were counted.

clintontrumpIn case you missed it, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump came out on top, as expected.

For the Democrats, about 22 percent of all elected convention delegates were selected for the national convention on Super Tuesday, with 11 states, American Samoa and overseas delegates in play. Clinton took all but two states in popular votes on Super Tuesday, and added at least 403 more delegates to her count. As of Wednesday morning, Clinton had 1,001 total delegates, compared with 371 for Bernie Sanders.

The Republican Party had 12 states in play on Super Tuesday, representing about 25 percent of all delegates sent to the GOP convention. Trump took at least 203 delegates, as of Wednesday morning, with more delegates to be allocated to him as congressional districts tallies are added up, and he has the majority of all delegates selected so far.

In terms of popular votes, Trump took at least eight states, with Cruz winning in Texas and Oklahoma, while Rubio came out on top in Minnesota. Alaska was still in play as of Wednesday morning.

Looking at the four most-recent election seasons (2012, 2008, 2004 and 2000), the Super Tuesday front runner usually goes on to their party's nomination that summer. The 2008 Democratic Super Tuesday saw a slim margin of victory in delegates for Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton; in the other races, the front runners used Super Tuesday to become the presumptive nominee before the primary season ended.

2012: Romney takes control, kind of

Mitt Romney maintained his momentum four years ago after a big Super Tuesday failure in 2008 (see below). On March 6, 2012, there were 11 states and about 20 percent of all delegates at stake on the GOP version of Super Tuesday. Romney took eight states, and the majority of delegates at stake, but he barely won Ohio from Rick Santorum. Somehow, Santorum and Newt Gingrich didn’t get on the Virginia ballot for Super Tuesday.

Santorum and Gingrich eventually faced financial hurdles competing with Romney, and Santorum suspended his campaign on April 10. By April 25, the Republican National Committee had declared Romney as the presumptive presidential nominee.

2008: Obama, Clinton emerge from Super Tuesday in deadlock

The Super Tuesday on February 4, 2008 was stormy in more ways than one: A Tornado outbreak affected 5 of the 24 states voting that day. In all, at least 57 people were killed as a result of 87 tornadoes that struck in a 15-hour period.

For the Democrats, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would up in a virtual delegate deadlock after all the votes were counted. Obama won 13 of 23 states on the day, but only gained 13 more delegates than Clinton. The protracted battle between the two candidates continued into May, when Obama’s win in Oregon made his nomination seem likely. But Clinton didn’t concede until June 7, and she actually won more of the popular vote during the primary process. (Obama took more Super Delegates during the campaign process.)

The GOP front runner, John McCain, was able to gain enough delegates to force his top rival, Mitt Romney, from the race. McCain took 42 percent of the Super Tuesday vote and 63 percent of the delegates at stake on February 4. On February 14, Romney endorsed McCain and two weeks later, the media anointed McCain as a presumptive nominee. McCain officially clinched the nomination on March 4, 2008.

2004: John Kerry uses Super Tuesday(s) to wrap up the nomination

After Howard Dean fizzled out, Kerry dominated in a year that included two Super Tuesdays, one in February and a second in March. On Mini-Tuesday, February 3, 2004, Kerry took the majority of delegates in seven states. He then took nine of 10 Super Tuesday contests in March to lock up the Democratic nomination, as John Edwards dropped from the race, and the Democratic Party declared Kerry as the presumptive nominee on March 11, 2004.

2000: Bush, Gore march on to their nominations

George W. Bush and Al Gore took part in a March 7, 2000 Super Tuesday that featured California and New York; both candidates cemented their front-runner status with strong performances. On the day, 42 percent of the Republican and 39 percent of the Democratic delegates were at stake.

Gore took all 11 states, including Bill Bradley’s home state of New York. Bush had big wins New York, Ohio and California over John McCain, who withdrew from the race two days later.

Scott Bomboy is the editor in chief of the National Constitution Center.

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