Candidates make final push as Election Day arrives

Arkansans will head to polls today in ‘Super Tuesday’ showdown

By Ralph Hardin ralphhardin@gmail.com

For more than a year now, a field of candidates across the political specturm has been competing on the air and around the nation for attention from American voters. While a handful of primaries and caucuses have been held, the races will really be heating up today when voters in 11 states (and American Samoa) head to the polls for what is popularly referred to as “Super Tuesday.” Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming will hold their primaries today (along with regional, county and local races and ballot measures). The decidedly southern flavor of this year’s Super Tuesdays has some pundits calling this the “SEC Primary,” with Arkansas being a part of the early primary process for the first time (the state has traditionally held primary elections in May). Candidates are certainly paying Arkansas a little more attention in 2016 than in year’s past. Republican candidate Donald Trump has been to Arkansas twice this election cycle, visiting Hot Springs over the summer and last week stopping in Bentonville before making another campaign stop in Memphis this weekend. Dr. Ben Carson campaigned in West Memphis in person, while the Arkansas Travelers, in support of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, rallied in West Memphis Friday afternoon. Along with the other candidates, they’ll be vying for Arkansas’ delegates (40 on the Republican side; 37 on the Democrat side), a slate of 1,460 (865 for Democrats, 595 for Republicans) total delegates up for grabs today. While a series of wins today won’t likely seal the deal for anyone, a good showing can give a candidate an upswell in momentum and support. And a poor showing can, and often does, spell the end for many hopefulls that fail to connect with voters. In Arkansas, the race for the Republican nomination figures to be a close one, ISideWith.com, an online polling site that has garnered high traffic numbers for its online candidate quiz as a tool to help voters decide on which candidate they most closely identify with, has Trump polling at 31 perecent, with Ted Cruz (21 percent) and Marco Rubio (20 percent) in a virtual tie. Ben Carson trails the frontrunners at 15 percent, with other candidates polling in the single digits as of Sunday afternoon. For those electing to vote in the Democratic Primary, the presidential race is down to a two-candidate field (although a slate of other candidates will be on the ballot, those candidates have since dropped out or represent minor “fringe” candidates). In that race, ISideWith.com has Bernie Sanders (57 percent) ahead of Hillary Clinton (42 percent) in a snapshot poll taken yesterday. The last Super Tuesday in which both parties were selecting a candidate that was not an incumbent (2008) featured a similar scenario as the 2016 edition (a two-candidate race in the Democratic field, and a several-candidate field of Republicans). That year, Barack Obama, who would go on to win the presidency in November, barely edged out Hillary Clinton, claiming 847 delegates to Clinton’s 834. John McCain, who would go on to win the Republican nomination, falling short the November General Election, claimed 602 delegates (compared to Mitt Romney’s 201, Mike Huckabee’s 152 and Ron Paul’s 10) to emerge from Super Tuesday as the party’s clear frontrunner. Will today’s vote follow a similar road or will there be a shake-up at the front of the pack? We’ll know tomorrow.

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