History Of Super Tuesday Primary Day
The Super Tuesday Primary Day has a relatively modern history. The first Super Tuesday took place in 1988.
(Above is a person voting in Poland. It would be fun to have such a big tall ballot box where I voted. Please also note the ballot box is decorated with a plant and that the voter seems quite happy. Voting can indeed be fun. )
Super Tuesday resulted from concerns about the nominating process before 1988, and has evolved—if we take the word “evolve” to not mean the same as “improve”—from smaller regional primaries held in the 1970’s and 80’s.
And whatever it’s process-driven roots, the real purpose has been to enhance the influence of the states taking part in Super Tuesday.
(Look at all the choices the people have in whatever election is represented on the ballot sheet below. Still, having many choices does not mean folks have true alternatives).
In short, there is a good measure of silliness and state-against-state competition in the Super Tuesday concept.
Objections to the way the nominating process took place before Super Tuesday were the long gap between New Hampshire and other primaries in which candidates fell out of the daily news, the expense of the nominating campaign, the physical strain on candidates, and the length of the campaign with the primaries extending into May and June.
Objections to the current process are that the nomination is locked up before voters know the candidates, the money it requires run in many states at once and –of course–that the campaign season is so long.
( If you see Fred Thompson’s name on your ballot, please recall he has quit the race. Nobody wanted him.)
In 1980 and ’84, Alabama, Georgia and Florida voted on the same day in the second week of March. That smaller regional primary day is the foundation of the current Super Tuesday.
On March 8, 1988 16 states, 10 from the south, all held primaries.
Voila! Super Tuesday was born.
(People value the ballot all across the world.)
In 1992, Super Tuesday was termed “March Madness” with an 8 state primary on March 3 and an increasing number of states holding primaries in March.
In 1996, March brought on successive Tuesdays a “Junior Tuesday” of ten states—including five in New England—, a Super Tuesday with seven mostly Southern states and, finally, a “Big Ten” Tuesday of ten states with a focus on the industrial Midwest. There was also a three state western primary that included California on March 26. ( Please click here for a Texas Liberal history of the California Primary.)
In 2000, 11 states held primaries on March 7. This was the earliest date allowed by Democrats for states other than Iowa or New Hampshire to hold a primary or caucus. On March 14, another big Southern-dominated primary day was held.
In 2004, a national Super Tuesday was held with California, New York, Massachusetts, Ohio, Georgia and five other states voting on the first Tuesday in March.
( Sometimes voting forces us to view a complex world in black and white.)
For 2008 the dam has broken. 24 states will be holding a primary or caucus on the very early date of February 5.
In each election cycle Super Tuesday, or one of its close cousins, has basically ended the race.
Will the nomination fight in at least one of the parties survive past Super Tuesday 2008?
For the sake of blog traffic, I very much hope so.
(Please click here for other Texas Liberal political history posts. Texas Liberal will lead the way in blogging political history in 2008.)
(This person cared about voting and thought Woodrow Wilson should support the right of women to vote.)