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Making sense of Super Tuesday

Illustration by R. A. Di Ieso / Vocativ

Illustration by R. A. Di Ieso / Vocativ

We’ve watched the debates, town hall meetings, and the stump speeches. If you’re a particular brand of political enthusiast, you’ve made trips to New Hampshire before their primary to see the candidates in person. Cars, front yards, and social media have been plastered with declarations of support for favorite candidates. And now Massachusetts residents finally get to have their say where it really matters: at the ballot box.


Why “Super Tuesday”?
On Tuesday, March 1, Massachusetts will be one of 12 states and one U.S. territory taking part in the Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses. Ten states will hold primaries for both political parties; Alaska will hold a Republican caucus; and American Samoa will hold a Democrat caucus.

Early states like Iowa and New Hampshire are important because they offer early insight into where voters’ interests are, and can begin to winnow out less popular candidates in crowded fields. On Super Tuesday, we begin to get a real indication of who each party’s nominee will be.

What is the SEC Primary?
One term you may have been hearing quite a bit in the lead-up to Super Tuesday is “SEC primary.” This refers to Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, Georgia, and Tennessee, all of which have teams that compete in the Southeastern Conference, which gave rise to the name.

Who are delegates?
Not only do the primaries offer yet more fodder for pundits and water cooler chat, but they determine the number of delegates that candidates will have in their favor at the national nominating conventions for each party later this year. Republicans have 2472 delegates this year, and Democrats have 4764.

Typically, delegates are people who are involved in politics in their states, as volunteers or local party chairs. Superdelegates are not committed to vote for a specific candidate, and are typically elected officials. Their votes can be pledged regardless of primary or caucus counts.

Each state has different rules for how their delegates will be awarded. Some states award a proportion of delegates, based on primary or caucus votes. For example, if a state has 100 delegates and a candidate wins 60 percent of the vote, that candidate will have 60 delegates voting for them at the convention. Some states are winner-take-all, meaning that whichever candidate comes in first gets all the delegates.

For more information about the process, including where to go in your town to vote and how to register (if you are not currently a registered voter, you won’t be able to participate in Tuesday’s primary, but you have until October to register for the national election in November), visit the official website of the Secretary of the Commonwealth. And as you consider your choices and prepare to cast your ballet, don’t forget that Nevins has lots of information on candidates and issues!


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Primary season is here!

“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.”With candidates having announced their intention to run for their parties’ nominations as early as March and April of last year, it may seem that the 2016 election should have already come and gone. Despite the months of campaigning, the town hall meetings, and the televised debates, election season hasn’t quite kicked into gear yet–but it’s about to.  The Iowa caucuses will be held on February 1, and the New Hampshire primary will take place on February 9. The results from these two states will shape the election from there, as many candidates end their campaigns if they don’t do well there.

In Massachusetts, our primaries will be held on Tuesday, March 1. If you’re still undecided on which candidate you plan to cast a vote for, or if there are some issues you’d like to learn more about, the Nevins Library has plenty of resources to help you make up your mind!

The library offers two databases that can help you get up to speed on the issues that matter to you: Global Issues in Context and Issues and Controversies. Both of these can be accessed here, and will require a library card when accessed from home. These frequently-updated resources provide up-to-the-minute information on issues ranging from healthcare policy to whether or not daily fantasy sports contests constitute gambling. Each of these provides a number of ways to navigate to find the information that you’re looking for.

In addition to these, the New Books section on the main floor has a number of recently-released titles that can offer some insight into some of the most important issues to consider as we prepare to cast our primary votes.

Then Comes Marriage: United States v. Windsor and the Defeat of DOMA by Roberta Kaplan with Lisa Dickey

America’s Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Backroom Deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Healthcare System by Steven Brill

Homefront 911: How Families of Veterans are Wounded by Our Wars by Stacy Bannerman

Objective Troy: A Terrorist, a President, and the Rise of the Drone by Scott Shane

ISIS: The State of Terror by Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger

The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin by Steven Lee Myers

If you’d like to read up on the candidates themselves, we’ve got that, too!


Happy Election Day!

your_vote_counts_button_3With news coverage dominated by discussion about Republican and Democrat debates, it would be easy to forget that the presidential election is still a year away (November 8, 2016, not that this political junkie is counting…). While some years may be more low-profile than others, Election Day does occur every year, with the first Tuesday in November hallmarked for elections at all levels, local and national. This year, Methuen, Haverhill, and Lawrence will all have mayoral elections.

The next big election day will come on March 1, 2016, when we are able to vote in the presidential primary. Voters have the opportunity to make their voices heard as they weigh the principles and platforms put forth by candidates from both parties. Many of the top candidates have written books (or had books written about them). Click on the books’ titles to find and request them, and let the decision-making begin!

Ben Carson’s One Nation: What We Can All Do To Save America’s Future
Hillary Clinton’s Hard Choices
Ted Cruz’s A Time for Truth
Carly Fiorina’s Tough Choices: A Memoir and Rising to the Challenge: My Leadership Journey
Rand Paul’s Taking a Stand: Moving Beyond Partisan Politics to Unite America
Marco Rubio’s American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone and An American Son: a Memoir
Bernie Sanders: Jonathan Tasini’s The Essential Bernie Sanders and His Vision for America
Donald Trump’s Time to Get Tough: Making America #1 Again