AP News Guide: Super Tuesday second only to Election Day

WASHINGTON (AP) — Super Tuesday is the biggest day of competition in American democracy except for Election Day itself. So will it set everything straight in the chaotic presidential race?

Maybe. Quite possibly not.

___

MARCO 'RAMBO' & CO.

Five Republicans are still in the race, but all the talk is about front-runner Donald Trump. The New Yorker is driving toward the Republican nomination and his rivals are trying to stop him with everything they have.

Tuesday will answer whether Marco Rubio's debate-night transformation last week from bland RubioBot to Marco Rambo will continue.

The fight that the Republican establishment long wanted has been engaged. Whether it's too late to stop the outsider billionaire is the question.

Similar suspense, with fewer insults, animates the Democratic race.

Hillary Clinton, the establishment pick, scored a weekend blowout in South Carolina on Saturday. She looks strong in many Super Tuesday states.

A surprise could reinvigorate Bernie Sanders, her socialist-populist rival who has tapped deep political passions but needs more victories, and soon.

___

WHY IT MATTERS

Immigration policy, the U.S. debt, the uneven spread of wealth and hard questions about how to approach the Islamic State group, terrorism and civil liberties are all concerns for voters.

So is the fate of fundamental social policy as the Supreme Court stands ideologically divided. A vacancy may not be filled until after the next president takes office in January.

Trump's agenda lacks detail on most fronts. But there's little doubt about his approach on several major issues.

He would try to push trading partners and others into doing his will. He wants to somehow carry out mass deportations of people in the country illegally, and temporarily ban non-U.S. citizen Muslims from coming into the country.

Democrats have a choice between liberal pragmatism and liberal ambition.

Sanders is proposing free college and a breakup of big banks as part of an agenda centered on shrinking the gap between rich and poor. That would come at the cost of higher taxes and what a lot of economists say would be higher national debt.

Clinton says Sanders' goals are politically impossible and she would follow an achievable path.

___

A TRANSITION

Until now, voters in four states have picked few of the delegates who are needed to clinch the party nominations.

That changes overnight, with each party holding contests in 11 states on Tuesday. Democrats also vote in American Samoa.

Republicans will allocate 595 delegates from the results of Super Tuesday, nearly half of the 1,237 needed for the nomination.

Democrats will allocate 865, more than one-third of the necessary 2,383.

___

WHAT'S THE SCORE?

3-1 for Trump and Clinton.

Trump won New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. Clinton won Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina.

Republican Ted Cruz won Iowa. Sanders won New Hampshire.

In the Republican delegate race, it's 82 for Trump, 17 for Cruz, 16 for Rubio, 6 for John Kasich and 4 for Ben Carson.

In the Democratic race, factoring in the hundreds of superdelegates, or party insiders who can support a candidate of their choice, Clinton leads with 544 delegates, according to AP's count, while Sanders has 85.

___

MOMENTUM STILL COUNTS

As enormous as the prize is on Tuesday, no one candidate can win their party's nomination that day. Delegates will be divided up according to how well each contender does.

That's an oversimplification of an arcane process, but the bottom line is that a strong second place in a particular state can be worth almost as many delegates as a victory.

A series of winner-take-all Republican primaries is coming, none bigger than Florida on March 15, where 99 delegates are at stake and Rubio will be fighting for a home-state victory against Trump, a part-time resident.

___

THE LINEUP

Both parties are holding contests Tuesday in these states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia.

Republicans also vote in Alaska and Democrats in Colorado. Democrats also have a contest in American Samoa.

|

..