Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service hosted a watch party for the Super Tuesday primaries in Old North on March 1.
About 40 students gathered to watch the primaries, which took place in 12 states and culminated in wins for Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Trump won in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) took second place with wins in Alaska, Oklahoma and Texas, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) saw a victory in Minnesota. Neither Governor John Kasich (R-Ohio) nor Ben Carson won any states.
The Friday following Super Tuesday, Ben Carson officially announced the end of his campaign for the Republican nomination.
On the Democratic Party’s side, Clinton won in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) won in Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Vermont.
However, those who did not technically win states still earned delegates, as all the states participating in the Super Tuesday primaries award delegates through a proportional rather than winner-take-all system.
GU Politics Executive Director Mo Elleithee (SFS ’94), who served as communications director for the Democratic National Committee as well as senior spokesperson for Clinton’s 2008 campaign, moderated the event alongside Sarah Isgur Flores, who served as the deputy communications director for the Republican National Committee and was most recently the deputy campaign manager for Carly Fiorina’s presidential campaign.
Elleithee opened the event by discussing his professional relationship with Isgur Flores.
“Sarah and I were frequent sparring partners when I was at the DNC and she was at the RNC and I never told her this, but I felt like I could pretty much handle anything that anyone at the RNC threw my way, including her boss, but I always had some issues dealing with her,” Elleithee said. “She was very, very good at what she did and what she does. So, I am very psyched to have her here.”
Elleithee went on to explain the importance of the Super Tuesday primaries and how they differ from the primaries that have already occurred in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.
“The first four states are all about momentum,” Elleithee said. “But at a certain point, these races stop being about momentum and they start being about math and, specifically, delegate math. That’s what we are going to start seeing tonight, where the candidates are going to begin racking up delegates based on their performance in each of the states.”
Isgur Flores said she is most interested in the results coming out of Texas, both because of the large amount of delegates awarded and Cruz’s affiliation with the state. Cruz won Texas, earning 102 delegates to Trump’s 47 and Rubio’s three.
Despite Cruz’s win in Texas, he currently lags behind in the polls, only holding 300 total delegates to Trump’s 384. A candidate needs 1,237 delegates to earn the Republican nomination. Rubio has 151 and Kasich has 37 delegates.
Isgur Flores said even if Cruz continues to fall behind Trump, she believes he will stay in the race in order to secure a position as a future Republican candidate for president.
“He stays in because even though he said he would drop out, the second place here is to run in 2020. And if you’re Ted, the best message you have going into 2020 is that you were number two,” Isgur Flores said. “You were the heir apparent, just Trump, you know, screwed you.”
Elleithee said he was dissatisfied with Sanders’ stump speech, which Sanders has not altered despite evidence that he lacks support from minority communities.
“I’m a Hillary guy, right? But what I want to hear, just as a Democrat, what I wanted to hear right there is ‘To those of you in the Democratic family, in the Democratic coalition, whose trust I haven’t earned yet, let me speak to you,’” Elleithee said. “Instead, he delivers the same speech, which just isn’t connecting. And that to me is very telling.”
In Sander’s speech in Vermont after the results rolled in Tuesday, he stressed his gratitude toward the people of his home state.
“You know, we want to win in every part of the country, that goes without saying,” Sanders said. “But it does say something and means so much to me that the people who know me best, the people who knew me before I was elected, who knew me as mayor, knew me as congressman and know me as senator, have voted so strongly to put us in the White House. Thank you so much.”
Sanders holds 499 delegates to Clinton’s 1,130. To earn the Democratic nomination, a candidate needs at least 2,382 delegate votes.
Elleithee said he believes Sanders can continue his campaign despite his Super Tuesday losses. However, Elleithee emphasized the importance of winning not only states but delegates as well.
“Bernie Sanders has enough money and enough grassroots support that he can go on as long as he wants in this race,” Elleithee said. “But, like we said, the delegate math is starting to add up.”
Isgur Flores commented on the rancorous elements the Republican race has taken on, specifically citing the insults that have flown between Rubio and Trump. At the Republican debate Feb. 25, Rubio accused Trump of sweating so profusely he might wet his pants.
“It’s been really fun to watch,” Isgur Flores said. “I don’t know if we’ve had someone become president who accused someone else of pissing their pants before.”
Additionally, Georgetown University Votes, a subcommittee of GU Politics, was present at the event to help attendees register to vote either in person or through absentee ballot.
GU Votes member Sydney Winkler (COL ’16) said the event “GU Votes: Absentee Voter Registration Party,” which took place Feb. 17, saw more students register to vote than the Super Tuesday watch party. Winkler attributed this to the level of political engagement already present in the watch party attendees.
“For the most part, what I’ve seen is the people who come to the watch parties in particular are already really engaged. So, they are already registered to vote,” Winkler said. “I think it’s a selection bias. The people who come and watch Super Tuesday are probably going to vote in their primary.”
Winkler highlighted her belief in GU Politics’ instrumental role in the watch parties and its fulfillment of student desire for more political engagement on campus.
“I really don’t think there would be a returns watch party before GU Politics. They filled such a great hole in Georgetown,” Winkler said. “Nothing like this has ever been hosted before. So, I think that’s where GU Politics is really taking advantage of this niche and fulfilling the needs of the students in that way.”
Ben Zuegel (COL ’19), who attended both the Iowa and the New Hampshire primary watch parties, said he enjoyed the events, especially the way Elleithee runs them.
“I like Mo a lot. I think he’s very informational,” Zeugel said. “I love the way he interacts with the other people. He seems to be a pretty strong Democrat but he always seems to enjoy the company of the Republicans, so it’s a good dynamic to encourage.”
Zeugel said he believes an interest in and desire for political activism is a characteristic unique to schools in the District.
“Here, it’s very tangible — you can go to Capitol Hill, you can work for congressmen — so I think that encourages events like this a lot because the general spirit of connectivity is much higher,” Zeugel said.