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A Super Primer for Super Tuesday

Image: A Super Primer for Super Tuesday
A woman wears an "I voted" sticker after voting in Massachusetts' primary election in Boston, Tuesday, March 1, 2016. (Michael Dwyer / AP)

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Tuesday, 01 Mar 2016 10:31 AM Current | Bio | Archive

The idea of Super Tuesday has been around for years. The Southern states were frustrated by the fact that they were the most electoral rich region of the country but had little impact on the presidential nominees of their respective parties.

Yes, New York, California, Illinois, Ohio, and a handful of other states were the biggest, but as a region, the South usually determined the outcome.

Still, nothing much happened until the political parties became involved.

Chuck Robb, the Democratic governor of Virginia, can be called the “father" of Super Tuesday. He envisioned a more moderate Democratic Party and believed a Southern primary would do the trick.

Republican leaders, meanwhile, saw a Super Tuesday as a way to ensure that the establishment choice would win.

They understood that a populist candidate could go to Iowa and shake enough hands and give enough speeches to win a caucus. But only a candidate with their money could win on Super Tuesday. Multiple states were simultaneously in play and a candidate needed huge amounts of money for television advertising.

One of the early Super Tuesdays was May 25, 1976. There were six primaries. Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan each took three.

The most consequential Super Tuesday was March 8, 1988, which launched the most enduring political dynasty in American history, the Bush family dynasty which produced two presidents and the governors of Texas and Florida.

George H.W. Bush was the sitting vice president. The first in the nation contest was held in Michigan. Bush lost the first round. Then there was Iowa where Bush came in third.

I was with his son, future president, George W. Bush, that night in Iowa and walked him alone to his hotel bedroom and stayed up with him. It was depressing.

Later I walked down to the bar, the only place open in the hotel, and sat with Doro Bush, who couldn’t sleep, and tried to reassure her that it wasn’t over. There were rumors that her dad was going to quit politics and be the president of Purolator. So would have ended the Bush dynasty.

But Bush Senior won in New Hampshire the next week and in South Carolina on March 5 and on Super Tuesday, March 8. The Bush family dynasty was born.

So Super Tuesday can be history making.

The great irony is that both the Democrat and Republican leaders who advocated for a Super Tuesday saw their purposes backfire miserably.

Yes, in 1992, the Democrat moderates succeeded in electing Bill Clinton but eventually large numbers of African-Americans came into the process and drove the Democratic Party off a leftist cliff.

In 1988, half of the Southern states voted for Jesse Jackson. Today, in 2016, many in the party openly embrace a publicly identified Socialist candidate.

Republican managers also failed to accomplish their goals. Their idea of controlling the nomination process is failing badly.

Today, Donald Trump, the ultimate “outsider candidate” is poised to win big on Super Tuesday and use the very weapon created by the GOP insider party establishment to crush their power.

Super Tuesday has become a Frankenstein monster that it creators in both political parties never anticipated.

Doug Wead is a presidential historian who served as a senior adviser to the Ron Paul presidential campaign. He is a New York Times best-selling author, philanthropist, and adviser to two presidents, including President George H.W. Bush, with whom he co-authored the book "Man of Integrity." Read more reports from Doug Wead — Click Here Now.
 

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The idea of Super Tuesday has been around for years.
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2016-31-01
Tuesday, 01 Mar 2016 10:31 AM
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