On Tuesday night, it was Minnesota’s turn. Voters across the state flocked to caucus sites to have their say in who should carry their party’s torch in the presidential election. In Minnesota, Senator Bernie Sanders won every congressional district in the state and thus the DFL delegates, while Senator Marco Rubio won the Republican caucus, his first and only win this year.
Eleven states held primaries or caucuses on Super Tuesday, which marked the night during which the most delegates would be awarded throughout the campaign. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won seven states, while Sanders nailed down victories in Colorado, Oklahoma and his home state of Vermont in addition to winning Minnesota.
On the Republican side, businessman Donald Trump won seven states, while Senator Ted Cruz won three, including his home state of Texas. As of Wednesday evening, Trump held 316 delegates, leading Cruz, who came in with 226, and Rubio, who held a distant third with 106.
1,237 delegates are needed to win the Republican nomination, and Trump’s victories on Tuesday solidified his position as the frontrunner for the Republican nomination.
Sanders won an overwhelming victory in Minnesota, earning 61 percent of the vote to Clinton’s distant 38 percent, according to the Minnesota Secretary of State. “I was fairly confident that Bernie would win Minnesota, but not by the margin that he did,” Sam Doten ’16, an organizer with Macalester College for Bernie Sanders, said. “It confirms to me that the environment I’m in and the discourse I’m surrounded by isn’t totally unrepresentative of the state of Minnesota.”
Rubio’s Minnesota win, aided by strong support in the metropolitan area and the southern portion of the state, was his first of this primary season. Congressional districts in northern and western Minnesota broke narrowly for Cruz, while Rubio’s support reached the mid-40s in the metropolitan area. Minnesota also marks the first state where Trump did not finish first or second in voting; here, he finished third with 21 percent.
At the DFL caucus site that served Macalester’s campus and residents of Tangletown, 550 votes were cast for Sanders out of 796 total votes. Clinton finished in second with 236 votes, while 9 cast their ballot as “uncommitted.” Martin O’Malley, who suspended his campaign after the Iowa Caucus, received one vote. Caucus goers could simply sign in, cast their ballot and leave when they desired. The caucus itself was inside JBD, and those that attended could propose and vote on resolutions and be selected as delegates for the next level of conventions.
Even before the official start time of 7 p.m., the lower level of the Campus center was filled with community members and Macalester students. Macalester campaign representatives from the Clinton and Sanders campaign watched from a table near the voting lines, ready to answer voter questions and pass out stickers for their candidates.
Mac Dems decided earlier this year to be a neutral organization and not endorse either Clinton or Sanders. Darwin Forsyth ’18, a co-chair of Mac Dems, said that he and the other co-chairs “wanted Mac Dems to be a big-tent group accessible to … everyone to discuss what they want from candidates and from the Democratic party as a whole.”
Despite not endorsing a candidate, they worked closely with informal student groups that developed to support Clinton and Sanders making sure they had the resources they needed.
Geneva Gaukel ’19 and Ben Goren ’19 represented Macalester students for the Sanders campaign. They said they were impressed by the turnout overall, but were skeptical about what the presence of community members might mean for their candidate’s chance at winning the precinct.
“There’s definitely a lot more Mac students, but there’s certainly a large community turnout as well,” Gaukel said. “That will definitely change things. Most of the community members that I’ve seen have been grabbing Hillary stickers, so we’ll see how it turns out.”
“Not that there’s not a good amount of community members that support Bernie,” Goren added. “I think the community members are more mixed while the campus is going to go very strong for Bernie.”
Mari Adams ’18, one of the Hillary campaign representatives who tabled at Macalester’s DFL caucus, said that though she knew that there was large Sanders support on campus, she was still impressed by the night’s proceedings.
“I knew going into it that it would of course be a stronghold for Bernie, but I was very happy to see Mac students coming to our table and taking stickers and engaging in conversation about supporting Hillary” Adams said.
The Republican Party’s caucus was held at Cretin-Derham High, which served Mac-Groveland, Highland Park and the northwest part of St. Paul. At that caucus site, Rubio won resoundingly with 64 percent of the vote. Cruz, Trump and Ohio Governor John Kasich finished neck-in-neck in a distant second place, all receiving between 10 and 13 percent. Dr. Ben Carson earned 2 percent, and as of Wednesday night he was signaling that his campaign would end.
Mac GOP chair and head of Mac for Marco, Cody Olson ’18 went back to his home in South Minneapolis to caucus. He had this to say about the statewide turnout. “I’ve been politically active and cared about politics for many years,” Olson said, “but another thing that motivated me more to take the time out of my day to actually go to my precinct and to encourage other people to caucus was the Trump fear. I really did not want him to win this state. I’m disappointed that he won so many other states, but I’m proud that we at least, the state of Minnesota, didn’t [vote for him]. I think that definitely motivated me more than it did before and I think it motivated other people too.”
Blaze Beecher ’18 also wanted to cast his vote for a republican.
“I was always going to caucus,” Beecher said. “The tougher decision was who I was going to vote for, especially since my former boss is not in the campaign anymore. I was the Minnesota Director for the Bush campaign, and then when he dropped out I was kind of left without a campaign for a while. I ended up voting for Governor Kasich, but principle-wise it was kind of the difficulty of ‘do I vote for someone that I think could win or do I vote for someone I agree with?’” Though Gaukel, Goren, Olson and Beecher all said they believed in the importance of the democratic process and an involved electorate, they did not have ringing endorsements of the caucus system.
“I don’t know that it definitely promotes participation,” Goren said. “It’s kind of daunting and scares off people who aren’t strong party supporters or don’t really have someone they really want to vote for.”
Olson agreed with this sentiment and said the system, as well as the location, did more to deter than encourage participation from fellow Macalester conservatives. “[The caucus system] hindered a lot of the people that I know identify as conservatives here but aren’t as politically active,” Olson said. “Because if you’re not as politically active, you’re not going to take the time to actually venture to this place that’s not significantly farther, but it’s kind of far away from campus.” Beecher said he was a supporter of the primary system as a more accessible and representative system. He contended that putting a high value on Super Tuesday, a day mostly made up of caucus races, could misrepresent the national stance on candidates.
“Super Tuesday is made up of a lot of southern states. It’s a very one sided affair in that the electorate is not well represented,” Bleecher said. “As Minnesota showed, Marco Rubio did a lot better here than he did anywhere else, and Donald Trump did a lot worse here than he did anywhere else, that being my point of Super Tuesday not being a fair representation of the country. Just because there are 11 states for Republicans on the same night, doesn’t mean that those 11 states are going to accurately represent us. Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Arkansas are all pretty similar in voting patterns.”
With Super Tuesday wrapped up, the presidential race will move to new states, and many races are scheduled for the coming days. Kansas, Louisiana and Nebraska will vote Saturday, Maine will vote Sunday, and Michigan and Mississippi will vote Tuesday.