This nominating extravaganza is the single biggest voting day of the presidential race until November's general election, with ballots being cast in 13 states and one territory: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Wyoming and American Samoa.
The voting process varies by state. Both Republicans and Democrats hold caucuses in Colorado and Minnesota. Both parties hold primaries in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia. Republicans are also holding caucuses in Alaska and Wyoming, while Democrats hold caucuses in American Samoa.
On Super Tuesday, there are 595 Republican delegates (about 20 percent of the total number) and 1,015 Democratic delegates up for grabs.
To win the nomination, a Republican candidate must earn 1,237 delegates out of the total 2,472 available. A Democratic candidate must win 2,383 out of 4,765 delegates.
So far there have been election events for both parties in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. The current delegate counts on the GOP side are: Donald Trump: 82, Ted Cruz: 17, Marco Rubio: 16, John Kasich: 6, Ben Carson: 4. For the Democrats, Hillary Clinton has 91 delegates and Bernie Sanders has 65.
In a trio of new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls, Clinton is leading Sanders in Georgia, Texas and Tennessee by about a 2-to-1 margin. According to Slate magazine, polls currently show her with huge leads in Alabama, Arkansas and Virginia. She also holds smaller leads in Oklahoma and Massachusetts. Sanders is likely a lock to win in his home state of Vermont.
According to the NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls, Trump is leading in Georgia and Tennessee, while Cruz is ahead in his native Texas. Slate reports that Trump is also leading – by double-digits – in Massachusetts, Alabama, Virginia and Vermont. "He is also the favorite in Oklahoma, where his advantage is smaller though still sizable (7 points), and is expected to be competitive in Alaska, Arkansas, Minnesota, and Tennessee, where reliable polling has been harder to come by. It would be a shock if Trump doesn't win most of Tuesday's Republican contests; a near-sweep looks much more likely," Slate predicts.
The results of Super Tuesday will have a significant impact on the rest of the race and could predict the two eventual nominees. Trump's massive lead has Republican Party elders like Mitt Romney, former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman and former RNC chairs Ken Mehlman and Mel Martinez in panic mode. "I would not vote for Trump, clearly," said Martinez, according to the Wall Street Journal. "If there is any, any, any other choice, a living, breathing person with a pulse, I would be there."
"It's kind of cooked, Trump's path to the nomination," the former Florida senator continued, adding that while he wouldn't vote for Clinton, he would have backed Vice President Joe Biden in a battle against Trump. (Martinez has since endorsed fellow Floridian Rubio for president.)
Celebrities like Everybody Loves Raymond actress Patricia Heaton and professional poker champ Daniel Negreanu have also joined the #NeverTrump cause.
A disqualifying & disgusting response by @realDonaldTrump to the KKK. His coddling of repugnant bigotry is not in the character of America.— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) February 29, 2016
Former RNC Chairman Mel Martinez says he wishes Joe Biden was running so he could vote for him vs Trump in general https://t.co/TUQ5g9fLV7— Reid J. Epstein (@reidepstein) March 1, 2016
The GOPers were dealt a last-minute assist by late-night hosts Jimmy Kimmel, Samantha Bee and John Oliver, who this week delivered a withering Trump takedown that has gone viral on social media.
Oliver called Trump's lead in the Super Tuesday states a "big deal."
"At this point, Donald Trump is America's back mole: it may have seemed harmless a year ago, but now that it's gotten frighteningly bigger, it is no longer wise to ignore it," he said.
"We have mostly ignored Trump on this show, but he has now won three states, has been endorsed by Chris Christie and polls show him leading most Super Tuesday states, which is a big deal. Since 1988, every candidate who's won the most states on Super Tuesday went on to become their party's nominee."