Super Tuesday Is Definitely Not Simple

The massive delegate-dump known as Super Tuesday is just around the corner on March 1. With almost a quarter of both parties' total delegates at stake on one day, it's no wonder there's so much buzz around Super Tuesday. There will be a whole lot of numbers flying in fast from different directions, so those following closely will do well to go in armed with all the information possible about the states that are holding contests, and what kinds of contests they are holding. Are all Super Tuesday states holding primary elections?

No, they are not. Of the 12 states holding contests plus American Samoa, there will be nine primary elections and four states holding caucuses, reported CNN. Alaska, American Samoa, Colorado, and Minnesota will be holding caucuses. Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia are holding primary elections. To make things just a little more interesting, not all Super Tuesday spots will be holding contests for both parties. Alaska is only holding Republican caucuses on Tuesday; American Samoa and Colorado are sticking to Democratic caucuses.

Primary elections are what most of us are used to, and they are fairly straightforward. Voters cast their ballot privately and that's that. Caucuses are much more involved. Yahoo reported that state rules vary for caucuses, but generally they are places where local party members get together, debate, try to persuade one another, and stand in groups to express support for a candidate, meaning that votes are not kept confidential as they are in primaries. Caucuses take up much more of participants' time, which generally leads to lower turnout, but those who do show up tend to be very politically engaged, according to Yahoo. Caucuses are usually held in public places and distributed throughout the state.

A Washington Post interview with political scientist Josh Putnam sheds light on how delegate allocation works. Democrats award their delegates proportionally, meaning if a candidates wins x amount of the popular vote, he or she gets x amount of delegates. Putnam noted some caveats: 1) because of rounding, a candidate won't get the exact percentage of delegates as the popular vote; and 2) many states have thresholds, meaning that a candidate must get a certain percentage of the vote (say 15 or 20) in order to get any delegates.

Normally Republican delegate allocation is way more confusing, as Putnam explained; some states do proportional, some states have a winner-take-all model in which the candidate who wins the state popular vote gets all the delegates, and there are other variations as well. Fortunately for us, the Republican National Committee ruled that, for the 2016 election, all states holding contests between March 1 and March 14 must allocate proportionally, so we have less to parse out there. If states were allowed to give all their delegates to the overall winner, then a candidate could theoretically secure the nomination before later states even get a chance to voice their opinion.

Nine primaries, four caucuses, one day, and a whole lot of delegates flying around. Start exercising your refresh button finger now so you're ready to stay updated on the results.

Believe it or not, both primaries and caucuses can be laugh-out-loud hilarious. Don't believe us? Have a listen to Bustle's "The Chat Room" podcast...

Image: Caroline Wurtzel/Bustle