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Dear White Women

Feb 26, 2020

We’re less than one week away from Super Tuesday! 

In today’s episode, Sara and Misasha talk about why the primaries are so important and why your vote matters, especially this election year! They will also cover what the deal is with Super Tuesday, what happened in Iowa and why that matters, and take a look at what the primaries really mean for our Presidential election.

Listen and learn during this informative Q&A session laced with Sara and Misasha’s punchy commentary!

Show Highlights:

  • Q: When does primary season begin and how long is it?
  • A: Voting began February 3rd with the Iowa caucuses. The last states vote in early June. Primary season lasts approximately 4 months.


  • Q: Who will I be voting for in the primaries?
  • A: The primaries are the main event. Candidates for the Democratic and Republican 2020 Presidential nominations, but voters will find all manner of down-ballot elections to consider on primary day. Down ballot means everything that is not the Presidential nomination, including house and senate races, and seats on the state legislature.


  • Q: What’s the difference between primaries and caucuses?
  • A: Primaries are relatively straight-forward. Voters vote and their vote goes to candidates who hope they get more votes than the other candidates. Caucuses, like Iowa, are similar. Generally, supporters for various candidates sit or stand together in groups. A headcount is conducted, and if a candidate doesn’t reach a certain threshold of support, the group is deemed non-viable and its members re-align with other clusters before a final count is made. 


  • Q: Can states actually cancel their primaries?
  • A: Yes, they can and some states did this year. Alaska, Nevada, Kansas, Virginia, Arizona, South Carolina, and Hawaii canceled the Republican primaries only.


  • Q: Is there a Republican Presidential primary and opponents running against President Trump?
  • A: Yes. In most states, President Trump’s opponents include Joe Walsh, a former Illinois congressman and William F. Weld, a former Massachusetts Governor.


  • Q: Can you vote in both the Democratic and Republican primary?
  • A: It’s just one vote, per person. In some states with “Closed primaries”, you’ll need to be registered with a given party to participate.


  • Q: Can Trump be re-elected President even after getting impeached by the House?
  • A: That is his plan. President Trump is the first impeached President ever to seek re-election.


  • Q: Why do we keep hearing that Iowa is so important?
  • A: Iowa goes first and has since the 1970s. There’s really no great reason why Iowa goes first, although some of the Vietnam war protests and racial tensions of the 1968 Democratic convention helped set the stage. 


  • Q: What is Super Tuesday?
  • A: Super Tuesday is March 3rd, and is the single most important day on the primary calendar because of how many major states will be holding their elections, including two very large states, California and Texas. About 40% of all pledged Democratic delegates will be awarded in these states. Misasha goes into greater detail here about how the delegate fight gets more serious!


  • Q: When did Super Tuesday become a thing?
  • A: Voting on that day of the week is an old tradition in the United States, but it wasn’t until the 1976 election that was credited with leading to the first recorded usage of that particular phrase. Sara shares the backstory of the when and the why!


  • Q: How does someone win the Democratic nomination?
  • A:  A candidate hoping to win on the first ballot at the convention must secure a majority of pledged delegates, as dictated by the outcomes in state primaries and caucuses. In total, there are just under 4,000 pledged delegates up for grabs, as well as hundreds of super delegates, though the party prefers to call them “automatic” delegates. The official nomination will take place at the party’s convention in Milwaukee this summer.


  • Q: What are delegates?
  • A: There are two different types. Delegates, “the people”, are like political figures: activists and local leaders chosen to represent their states at the party’s convention. Delegates, “the numbers”, are the all-purpose metric of primary success. They are allocated proportionately according to the state voting results and their population.


  • Q: What are super delegates? Didn’t they get rid of those?
  • A: Democratic super delegates are political insiders. They can be sitting lawmakers to former senior party officials whose primary choices can be divorced entirely from the preference of the average voter. Super delegates can vote as they choose and their very existence in 2016 became a source of major tension in the race between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. While Mrs. Clinton bested Mr. Sanders among pledged delegates in 2016, Mr. Sanders and his supporters saw the super delegates system as an affront to the democratic process. In response, the Democratic National Committee has sharply reduced the influence of super delegates, effectively preventing them from participating in a substantial way in the first ballot of a Presidential nominee process.  


  • Q: Are there any history makers in the Presidential election?
  • A: Mrs. Warren, Mrs. Klobuchar, or Representative Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii would be the first woman elected President. Mr. Buttigieg would be the first openly-gay President to hold the office, and Mr. Sanders or Mr. Bloomberg would be the first Jewish President elected. A few of them would also be the oldest President ever inaugurated for a first term.


  • Q: Which party has done better at fund-raising so far?
  • A: Trump entered 2020 with more than 100 million dollars in cash on hand, and he outpaced every Democrat with 46 million in the 4th quarter of 2019. But, contenders for the Democratic nomination have accusatively surpassed Trump’s totals, suggesting pretty good enthusiasm.


  • Q: Does my vote in the primaries matter?
  • A: YES!! Although the piecemeal nature of the state-by-state calendar might make the process seem less exciting, the primaries really do resolve the nontrivial matter of choosing major party nominees and also all of the down-ballot stuff.


  • Q: Is it ok for me to skip voting in the primaries and just vote in the general election?
  • A: It’s allowed, of course. But the down-ballot primaries will be of significant consequence locally in many states and those are the feeder systems for our future. So it’s incredibly important to vote, especially all the way down the ballot and not just in the main event.


  • Q: Do I need to be registered to vote in the primaries?
  • A: Yes! 49 states require voter registration. North Dakota is the only state that does not require it. Deadlines for registering in your state can be found at the U.S. Vote Foundation.


  • Q: Do I need a government-issued ID?
  • A: These requirements can vary by state and can be found at NCSL.


  • Q: What if I was removed in a voter purge?
  • A: You can check your status at


  • Listen to the podcast for more Q&A regarding voting over the internet, those interfering Russians, Trump’s chances of re-election, how trustworthy the polls are, if we are going to be ok, and when this will be all over.
  • Sara and Misasha’s discourse on Iowa and what we can learn from it.
  • Please Vote!!

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Recent Episode on Primaries:

35: Election 101: Why Your Vote Does Matter

Books Mentioned:

Super Tuesday: Regional Politics & Presidential Primaries by Barbara Norrander