It is called Super Tuesday because more than a third of the delegates needed to win the Democratic nomination will be decided in one day. Voters in 14 states, including Minnesota, will go to the polls. The results are expected to cull the fragmented Democratic field and possibly clarify which of several moderates might emerge to blunt the momentum of self-described democratic socialist Bernie Sanders, one of the early leaders.
Re-energized by S.C. win, strength may lie ahead
Joe Biden, who served as vice president under former President Barack Obama, is considered to have a strong affinity with mainstream Democratic and black voters. He entered the race as the presumed favorite but faltered in the early voting states until winning South Carolina. He has faced questions about his age and past work with Republicans in the Senate, including his original support for military operations in Iraq. He also has been embroiled in Trump's attacks on his son's work in Ukraine.
Latecomer is banking on Super Tuesday states
Mike Bloomberg, one of the richest men in the world, entered the race late, presenting himself as a more electable alternative to the other candidates vying for the Democratic nomination. Funding his own campaign without seeking contributions, he sat out the early debates, caucuses and primaries, banking instead on a multimillion-dollar advertising blitz in the Super Tuesday states. He has risen in some polls, but his wealth and self-funding have exposed him to criticism of trying to "buy" the nomination.
Combat veteran fights for traction with voters
Tulsi Gabbard, an Army National Guard major and the first Hindu elected to Congress, cuts an unusual figure in American politics but has gained little traction in the race. Struggling in the polls, she has all but disappeared from the debate stage. The first female combat veteran to run for president, she has positioned herself as the Democratic field's chief opponent of "wasteful wars." While she has not caught fire with voters, she has raised her national profile.
He's the man to beat as long as rivals split vote
Sen. Bernie Sanders enters as the presumptive front-runner, having finished high in the first four contests. He is seen as the man to beat, particularly by the Democratic establishment, which views his democratic socialist politics as a sure loser in November. His ardent adherents see him as the best candidate to energize the disaffected voters who took a pass on Hillary Clinton in 2016. So far, he has benefited from the rivalry between a clutch of moderate candidates vying for the votes of center-left Democrats.
Warren hoping to push reset button on campaign
Sen. Elizabeth Warren has vied with Sanders to lead the party's most liberal wing, but without much success. Her zenith so far was a third-place finish in Iowa, a disappointment matched only by ending up fourth in N.H., next door to her home of Massachusetts. Though she was a dominant force in the Nevada debate, where she dressed down Bloomberg, it didn't pay off in the Nevada caucuses, where she finished fourth again. She is now looking at Super Tuesday as a chance to reset her campaign and find a realistic path to the nomination.
Can GOP choice crack Minnesota's armor?
President Trump faces no significant competition for the Republican nomination. His will be the only name on the party's ballot in Minnesota as well as several other states. Once seen as a brash political outsider, he has watched the modern GOP coalesce around him as president. He's held a regular succession of campaign rallies as president, keeping his base of supporters intact. One marker for him will be Minnesota, a state that no GOP presidential candidate has won since 1972. Vice President Mike Pence will visit Minnesota on Thursday.