On one level, Super Tuesday is about who wins how many states. But the pursuit of a presidential nomination is all about delegates, and for the Republicans, the rules may make it difficult to run away with a majority of delegates on March 1.
Of the eleven states that vote, seven will dole out two pots of delegates – one batch for the statewide race and another divided up by Congressional districts – 83 them in seven different states.
Those seven states that have two batches of delegates to offer:
Four other states simply divide up the delegates based on the overall state vote:
So – think of it this way – there are 11 states and 83 separate contests involving delegates in the Congressional districts that were mentioned above – that means Super Tuesday is really about 94 different elections for the GOP.
Because of that, it is impossible to summarize the delegate rules in one tidy paragraph, so let’s go state by state on what the GOP will encounter on March 1.
TEXAS – At 155 delegates, Texas is the biggest prize on Super Tuesday. 47 statewide delegates, with a 20 percent threshold; 108 delegates in 36 Congressional districts.
This state is the best chance for Ted Cruz to notch a statewide victory, and to gain delegates from the results in the individual Congressional districts. A loss here for Cruz would probably knock him out of the GOP race.
There is a 20 percent threshold to get delegates statewide. If you win a Congressional district with less than a majority, the delegates go two to the first place finisher, and one delegate to the candidate in second (what I will label 2/1).
GEORGIA – 76 delegates. 34 statewide, with a 20 percent threshold. 42 delegates in 14 Congressional districts.
Trump has led in the polls here, but not by as much as in next door Alabama. His giant rally on Sunday may show where the race is going in the Yellowhammer State.
Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz may have a chance to win individual Congressional districts here to limit their losses.
Georgia has a 20 percent threshold to get delegates statewide. Like Texas, if you win a Congressional district with less than a majority, the delegates are given out 2/1.
TENNESSEE – 58 delegates. 31 statewide delegates with a 20 percent threshold; 27 delegates in 9 Congressional districts.
The Volunteer State is similar to Georgia, in that Trump has led in the polls, but Rubio may have a chance to win delegates in more urban areas, by winning some Congressional districts.
Unlike other states, you can only sweep the delegates in Tennessee by winning a two-thirds supermajority of the vote, not just 50 percent. Tennessee also has a 20 percent threshold for getting statewide delegates, and delegates in Congressional districts are also likely to be handed out in a 2/1 manner.
ALABAMA – 50 delegates. 29 statewide delegates with a 20 percent threshold; 21 in 7 Congressional districts.
This might be the best state for Donald Trump on Super Tuesday in the South, but getting to a majority to sweep the delegates might even be too much for Trump statewide – but it would not surprise me if Trump wins a Congressional district in the Yellowhammer State with more than 50 percent.
VIRGINIA – 49 delegates. This is one of four states that simply hands out delegates based on today’s vote. There is no threshold, so if you get two percent of the vote, you get a delegate.
OKLAHOMA – 43 delegates. 28 statewide delegates with a 15 percent threshold for state delegates; 15 in 5 Congressional districts.
Oklahoma has one of the more unusual rules for distribution of the delegates from Congressional districts – if three candidates get more than 15 percent, then one delegate is awarded to the top three. That could well happen tonight with Trump, Cruz and Rubio.
MASSACHUSETTS – 42 delegates. This is a straight primary, with a very low 5 percent threshold in order to be eligible for delegates.
ARKANSAS – 40 delegates. 28 statewide with a 15 percent threshold; 12 delegates in 4 Congressional districts.
Arkansas also has one unique rule for the statewide delegates – every candidate who gets over 15 percent of the vote automatically gets one delegate. Then the rest are allocated proportionately for those over 15 percent.
MINNESOTA – 38 delegates. 14 statewide with a 10 percent threshold for state delegates; 24 delegates in 8 Congressional districts.
Minnesota has two unique rules: if you get over 85 percent of the statewide vote, you win all the delegates; also, there is a 10 percent threshold for Congressional district delegates.
ALASKA – 28 delegates. The Caucus in Alaska will award delegates based on the statewide vote, but there is a 13 percent threshold to be eligible for delegates.
VERMONT – 16 delegates. More than 50 percent will win you all the delegates in Vermont; otherwise, there is a 20 percent threshold for delegates.