Super Tuesday or Stupor Tuesday?

Frank Islam & Ed Crego
9 min readFeb 20, 2024


Image Credits: Tom de Boor, DALL-E, Dreamstime, et al

Super Tuesday is a Tuesday early in a presidential election year when a large number of states hold their primaries or caucuses.

In 2024, Super Tuesday falls on Tuesday March 5. A total of 16 U.S. states and one territory will hold their nomination contests on that date, and more than one-third of the delegates to the nomination conventions will be decided.

In the past, Super Tuesdays have been pivot points that are indicative of who will be the Democratic and Republican nominee for President. Here are two recent examples.

In 2020, in the Democratic contest going into Super Tuesday, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was leading Joe Biden and appeared headed to the nomination. On Super Tuesday, after winning South Carolina with the assistance of Congressman Jim Clyburn, Biden, according to CNN, made a “historic and unbelievable comeback” by winning the majority of the states on Super Tuesday, establishing the momentum necessary to secure the Democratic nomination for president.

In 2016, in the Republican contest going into Super Tuesday, there was uncertainty about whether Donald Trump could win the nomination over his political opponents Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Governor John Kasich (R-OH). After Trump won 7 states out of 11, that uncertainty diminished and Trump marched on to win the Republican nomination, and go on from there to beat Hillary Clinton to win the presidency.

In 2024, Super Tuesday will not be a pivot point but a sticking point. The Republicans will stick with their presumptive nominee, former president Donald Trump, and the Democrats will stick with their presumptive nominee, current president Joe Biden.

Given this, in combination with the attitudes of Republican and Democratic voters, and the public in general regarding these nominees, we believe it is more appropriate to call Tuesday, March 5, 2024, Stupor Tuesday rather than Super Tuesday.

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines stupor as “a condition of greatly or completely suspended sense or sensibility.” The reasons for a stupor vary. They include intoxication, ambivalence, and apathy.

Those states of stupor apply respectively to Republicans, Democrats, and the American public this year. Let’s examine why and how.

The Republican Stupor: Intoxication

A drunken stupor is probably the type of stupor that most people have read or heard about. Those MAGA supporters and advocates who have totally committed to the Party of Trump (aka the Republican Party) because of Donald Trump are not drunk, but they are definitely intoxicated. This intoxication causes them to have blurred vision and to live in an altered state of reality.

One of the reasons Trump won the election as President was because he persuaded the white working class that he was one of them and he alone represented their interests. One of the reasons his influence continues is that Trump has convinced his acolytes of the truth of the Big Lie and extended his mind control over those who are of one mind with his.

We have written extensively in the past on the symbiotic relationship between Trump and his most ardent followers — or, as we and others have referred to them, cult members. The term cult is usually applied to a religious movement. But though a recent video about God Making Trump suggests that there may be a religious aspect to the devotion to Trump, the operational definition which fits best is the following adapted from

A cult is a group of people with extreme dedication to a certain leader or set of beliefs.

The important elements of that definition are “a certain leader” and “a set of beliefs.” In this instance, Trump is that certain leader embodying, magnifying, and legitimating a set of beliefs.

Some of the beliefs in that set are his, and some are those of his followers, which he embraces and expresses as his own. There is a reciprocity and a shared identity in the relationship.

In this relationship, Trump’s loss is his followers’ loss. The loss is personal to them because they are engaged in what John Hopkins political scientist Lilliana Mason calls “identity politics.” Their identities are wrapped up with Trump’s, and they must not surrender because if they do so, they will slide back down the political/societal totem pole.

In an insightful opinion piece on Donald Trump’s appeal and approach to leadership published on January 25, Shadi Hamidi, columnist and member of the Washington Post editorial board, writes:

In a time when U.S. politics revolves around the intangibles of “who we are” rather than the policies we support, Trump’s authenticity — his honesty about being dishonest and his unapologetic prioritization of self over country — appeals to tens of millions of Americans. This is also what makes Trump uniquely dangerous.

Hamid is right. Trump has entwined his personal interests with the personal interests of tens of millions of other Americans. Those are his MAGA supporters. Add to them the tens of millions of Republicans who have stayed in the party and now accept the truth of the Big Lie and endorse Trump. That combination is what makes him “uniquely dangerous.”

The Democratic Stupor: Ambivalence

The democratic stupor is almost the polar opposite of the Republican stupor. It is not a condition borne out of intoxication, indoctrination, or even infatuation. It is a stupor created by ambivalence toward President Joe Biden being the Democratic candidate for President again in 2024.

This ambivalence exists in spite of Biden’s excellent policy track record during his time in office, with the passage of major legislation in a variety of areas, including climate change, economic assistance, health care costs, and infrastructure improvement. The ambivalence also exists during a period of very strong job creation, wage increases, and economic growth nationally, and a general appreciation internationally for America’s return to the world stage.

In spite of his considerable substantive accomplishments, the party faithful have not rallied around President Biden. Part of this is no doubt due to the fact they are Democrats in the Democratic Party. About one century ago, Will Rogers said, “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.”

Through the century since then, the party has meandered about and around the political spectrum. In recent decades:

  • As President, Bill Clinton moved the Democratic Party from center left to center right in orientation.
  • As President, Barack Obama moved it back toward the center.
  • Bernie Sanders tried to become the Democratic nominee for President and to move the party to the left.

Sanders did not succeed in gaining the Democratic nomination for president against either Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden. Sanders’ efforts, however, did enable the progressive left to gain more influence in the party, and move the centrist and traditional liberal Democrats to the side from a political and policy standpoint.

This current split in the Party was reflected in the results of a CBS News/YouGov poll conducted between December 6–8, 2023. An analysis of that poll showed that 61% of the Democrats surveyed thought that Biden should run for re-election in 2024, and 39% thought he should not. Among the nearly 40% who didn’t want Biden to run again, 65% wanted someone dissimilar to Biden to be the nominee, and 85% felt it would be important that the nominee be progressive. The overwhelming majority of those who felt Biden shouldn’t run were concerned about his age (93%), and had concerns about his completing his second term (67%).

It’s not just who President Biden is that creates ambivalence among Democrats. It is also the policies he has advanced. In a December article for The Hill, Alex Gangitano and Brett Samuels noted:

President Biden is taking hits on multiple issues from within his own party, with Democrats bashing the president for recent policy choices, including immigration, foreign policy, and the environment.

As might be expected, unlike the Republicans, the Democrats are not of one mind on these issues. They are not mindless, but their stupor derives from an inability to come together, rather than an ebullience derived from a forged sense of shared identity.

The Stupor of the American Public: Apathy

The stupor of the American public in general is not specific to what is going on in 2024. It is due to apathy regarding electoral politics. Historically, that apathy has caused extremely low levels of participation in primaries.

According to States United Action, the average turnout rate for primary elections between 2000 through 2020 was 27% of registered voters. In a report issued in 2022, the Bipartisan Policy Center reported that every four years… “about 80% of eligible voters do not participate” in mid-term primaries (primaries held in non-presidential election years).”

In an analysis for the Pew Research Center in 2016, Drew DeSilver found that the turnout of eligible voters, in presidential primaries nationally between 1980 to 2016, ranged from a low of 14.5% in 2012 to a high of 30.4% in 2008. The results in the first caucus and first two primaries and showed a varied pattern:

  • The Des Moines Register reported that Iowa caucus turnout “comprised 15% of registered Republicans, falling short of the 20% to nearly 30% who had caucused in recent years.”
  • CNN reported that the New Hampshire Republican primary turnout set a record in terms of numbers, with Trump beating Nikki Haley with approximately 54% to Nikki Haley’s 43% of the more than 320,000 votes cast.
  • CBS News reported that around 131,000 South Carolinians voted in the 2024 Democratic primary, making up just around 4% of registered voters statewide, compared to around 16% in 2020 and more than 12% in 2016.

No matter the turnout in the additional five states (and the U.S. territory of the Virgin Islands) due to cast ballots before Super Tuesday, and on Super Tuesday itself, the foregoing statistics show that a small minority of voters determine who the Democratic and Republican candidates for office will be.

Voter participation in general elections goes up substantially, and has increased significantly in the past three national elections. According to States United Action, the average turnout rate of registered voters between 2000 and 2020 was 60.5%. A Pew Research Center study revealed that:

The elections of 2018, 2020 and 2022 were three of the highest-turnout U.S. elections of their respective types in decades. About two-thirds (66%) of the voting-eligible population turned out for the 2020 presidential election — the highest rate for any national election since 1900. The 2018 election (49% turnout) had the highest rate for a midterm since 1914.

This recent increase in the general election participation indicates that there is a shift away from apathy. Given the polarized political nature of the nation today, it is likely that shift is being driven by antipathy — a deep feeling of dislike for an individual or those on the other side.

This conclusion is supported by a Pew Research Center survey, which revealed that a total of 28% of those voters voted in only 1 or 2 of the 2018, 2020 and 2022 elections: 12% in 2020 only; 8% in 2018 and 2020; and 8% in 2020 and 2022. These occasional voters were about equally split between Democrats and Republicans. This same survey showed that 30% of those contacted did not vote in any of those three elections.

Even though antipathy has moved the voter participation needle upward, the United States still does not rank highly in comparison to other countries. A Pew Research Center analysis put together by Drew DeSilver showed that when looking at the voting age population in national elections, the U.S., with a turnout of 61.3 of the voting age population (all people over the voting age in a country, whether eligible to vote or not), ranked 31st in turnout, between Colombia and Greece. India, the world’s largest democracy, ranked 22nd.

America Needs Engaged Citizens to Overcome Its Stupor

In conclusion, so many American citizens existing in stuporous states of intoxication, ambivalence, and apathy during this election year is not good for the future of this nation. A vital and vibrant democracy requires politically engaged citizens.

At a minimum, politically engaged citizens do their homework, decide whom to support, and then participate in the nomination and election process. They do not abdicate their rights and responsibilities as citizens.

Citizens avoid voting in primaries and elections for many reasons. One of the most common of those reasons is a negative perception of and attitude toward government and politics.

Alan Gitelson, professor emeritus of political science at Loyola University of Chicago, studied citizen cynicism and skepticism toward politics and government for nearly the past three decades. Over that period, he found cynicism and skepticism toward both have increased significantly.

This is concerning. But, as Professor Gitelson explains, the cynicism rating is more important than the skepticism rating.

This is the case because cynical citizens do not participate in the politics or the electoral process. Skeptical citizens, on the other hand, might, if they can be persuaded and given an opportunity and reason to set their skepticism aside. They could engage in what sociologists call “the willing suspension of disbelief.”

In 2024, as we stated near the outset, it is probable that March 5 will be a Stupor Tuesday instead of Super Tuesday. In spite of that, on November 5, Election Day, skeptical citizens must be willing to suspend their disbelief and participate in the voting process with concerned citizens of all types. This joining together of engaged citizens is essential in order to shape and sustain our democracy in this 21st century.

Originally published by the Frank Islam Institute for 21st Century Citizenship. For more information on what 21st century citizenship entails, and to see exemplars from around the world, please visit our website.



Frank Islam & Ed Crego

Frank Islam is an entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist. Ed Crego is a management consultant. Both are leaders of the 21st century citizenship movement.