By Justin Vélez-Hagan
Although many voters have some idea of the importance of Super Tuesday to presidential elections, for the 10,000,000 or so new voters in 2012, you may have some catching up to do. If you're in need of a little political brush up, here are five reasons Super Tuesday is the second most important election day of 2012.
1. There's a reason it's called "Super." More delegates are awarded to primary candidates on this designated Tuesday than any other day, and have been since 1988. In 1992, Clinton was behind before winning a slew of southern states, garnering the nickname "the comeback kid." In 1996, Bob Dole swept Super Tuesday elections winning the Republican nomination. In 2000, both Al Gore and George Bush secured their respective nominations, and in 2008 the number of states holding primary elections on Super Tuesday rose to its highest level ever at 24.
2. Not just any ten states. The 10 states holding primary elections on this Super Tuesday represent the most diverse mix of voter backgrounds of any primary election to date. Some states, like Idaho and North Dakota, are almost completely rural and historically Republican, while other states like Vermont and Massachusetts are strongly Democratic. Massachusetts has a large and diverse population, which, incidentally, chose the Republican candidate Mitt Romney as their 70th governor. And then there are the "swing states," which can go either way. Ohio and Virginia both contain large and growing minority populations (especially Latinos) and may provide evidence for how those communities feel about the candidates.
3. First test of national electability. You've heard the term "electability" kicked around a lot, especially given Republicans' ultimate goal of beating President Obama in November. Given the diversity and number of states involved, this Super Tuesday will be the first real test of national electability for the Republican candidates. Because of the demographic diversity in those states, the issues voters consider the most important is also very diverse. Big wins on Super Tuesday usually mean the party's nomination.
4. Latinos have the power to influence. A Florida-based political analyst, Charles Garcia said that he is "confident Latino voters will decide the U.S. election in 2012," especially in "swing" states. You've been hearing about the power of the "Latino vote" ever since. Why are we so powerful? The number of Latino voters in the "swing" states, which are expected to decide the outcome of November's showdown, have grown by more than 700,000 voters over the last four years, far faster than any other demographic, according to Garcia.
5. Super Tuesday will affect our businesses, our economy, and our families. Latinos start and own businesses at a rate of 3 to 1 over anyone else. (Latinas start businesses at a rate of 6 to 1! You go chicas!) Because small businesses have hired more than 60% of our nation's employees over the past decade, and an even higher percentage of Latinos, Latinos see them as the lifeblood of the economy. How we vote on Super Tuesday will send a message, not just to current Republicans, but to the President as well, that could have immediate economic repercussions.
During the Republican primary, there has been no date more important to its outcome than Super Tuesday. With Latinos' newfound influence and power, there is also no election more vital to our own interests. Watch what happens on Super Tuesday, it could change our country forever.
Justin Vélez-Hagan is the National Executive Director of The National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce and an international developer of senior living facilities. He is also the Sr. Contributing Writer for Politic365 and can be reached at JustinV@NPRChamber.org or @JVelezHagan.