What you need to know about the Super Tuesday results

Super Tuesday is over, and now it’s just plain old Wednesday. But yesterday’s presidential primaries have given us a LOT to consider. At this point in the election year, there’s no real clear final winner, and we’re still not even done voting for the party nominations.

It’s called Super Tuesday, because unlike the single-state caucuses before it, (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina), 11 states went to the polls yesterday to choose their party candidate.

If you live in Alaska, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Vermont, Georgia, Arkansas, Texas, Massachusetts, Alabama, Tennessee, or Virginia, chances are you went to the polls yesterday to pick your candidate for president. But what does your vote mean?

Here’s a breakdown of everything you need to know about Super Tuesday.

Who won?

The thing about Super Tuesday is that, while candidates technically win individual states, we can only predict what will happen when the remaining states weigh in on March 15. So “winning” is a pretty limited idea.

That being said, the clear winners of the 11 states that voted yesterday are Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump, with each of them  winning 7 of the 11 states that participated in the primary, according to The New York Times election results.

Clinton won 979 delegates compared to Sanders’ 382, while Trump won 280, with Cruz coming in a not-so-distant second with 178, and Rubio landing 98. Their performances in yesterdays primaries are strong indicators of how things will turn out in November, but in a race as unexpected as this one has been, you can’t rely on predictions.

What’s next?

Clinton and Trump are sitting pretty comfy at this point. They are the decided frontrunners for their parties, and probably don’t have too much to fret over. Maybe. Come March 15, Florida and Ohio voters will head to the primaries to cast their votes, and it’s Cruz and Sanders that need the wins the most. If they don’t get a significant amount of the votes in these two states, their general election fate looks bleak. Rubio only won one state in the Super Tuesday primaries, but he vowed to “never stop campaigning”  in a speech in Florida last night, although he has very few delegates.  

What’s a delegate?

Every state is assigned a certain number of delegates, according to a very complicated nexus of factors — everything from congressional districts to voting history. When folks come out to the polls to vote for their candidates, those votes are tallied to determine a winner for the state, and then the delegates for that state cast their vote based on the results.

The Washington Post explains it like this, “Officially, candidates only become their party’s presidential nominee after a vote is taken by party delegates to the Republican or Democratic presidential nominating conventions later in the summer. These delegates are supposed to take their cue from the voters who cast ballots during their state’s primaries and caucuses.”

What happens if the voters and delegates disagree?

Here’s where the democratic process gets a little a little murky. Although we are actually casting our votes at the polls, it’s really the delegates that decide which candidate wins each state.

If there are discrepancies in the numbers, as in the delegates don’t want the same thing as the voters, then we’re faced with a brokered convention. This is the buzz around Trump’s victory as his popularity with the voting public rises yet plummets with the Republican establishment.

The Washington Post outlines a brokered convention like this, “When convention delegates fail to reach majority consensus on the first ballot, virtually every delegate becomes a free agent, with no obligation to serve their voters’ preferences. It’s called a brokered convention, and it hasn’t happened in the modern primary era.”

The 2016 election is promising to be one like we’ve never seen before. Between the possibility of a female president to the unprecedented antics of the Republican candidates, this race has been unexpected to say the least.

Although we’re in the home stretch, with only seven months until the general election, there’s still plenty of room for upset.

No matter what, though, you must get out there and vote. When conditions are this precarious, every single voice matters. USE YOURS!