What to Watch in the SEC Primary


Posted on February 29, 2016 by Alice Jackson
Alice Jackson


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Presidential politics will focus south Tuesday, March 1, to Super Tuesday as 1,010 Democratic and Republican delegates are up for grabs in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Dr. Sam Fisher, associate professor of political science and criminal justice at the University of South Alabama, says the primary could reduce the number of candidates vying for the White House.

What has become known popularly as the “SEC Primary,” named because many of the primary states have universities with football teams in the Southeastern Conference, has created a region where presidential candidates must invest time, energy and money. Failing to do so could mean drastic consequences to their political ambitions, and that’s why many of the candidates have come South during recent days to campaign vigorously.

According to Fisher, the SEC Primary is especially important this year because:

  • It may put both frontrunners, GOP contender Donald Trump and Democratic contender Hillary Clinton, in a commanding lead for their respective nominations.
  • Clinton did extremely well in South Carolina with decisive support from black voters, and, in a setback for Democratic rival Sen. Bernie Sanders, she also garnered the majority of white votes. If Sanders can’t keep the margins close in states such as Alabama, and then win big in states he’s expected to win, then he is likely to drop further behind through the rest of the primary season.
  • Trump can solidify his lead, which can potentially force the weaker GOP candidates to drop out of the race, if he has strong finishes in the states he’s expected to win – Alabama and Georgia in the SEC as well as Oklahoma and Massachusetts, also on March 1.
  • Sen. Marco Rubio, who is the Republican establishment’s purported last best hope, will need to do much better, but it’s not clear if even that will help, unless he wins in one or more states in Tuesday’s vote.

 


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