Usually, Friday is hands down the most important day (happy hour hot wings, anyone?) but this week Tuesday takes the title.
That is when, for the Democrats, 11 states plus American Samoa, and for the Republicans, 13 states will make their choices for the party nominees. It’s called Super Tuesday, and it dominates my three things you must watch this week in politics.
SEC SHELLACKING? For a while it looked like Hillary Clinton had learned nothing from her 2008 drubbing at the hands of Barack Obama. Once again an apparent long shot candidate was making her seem not inevitable –but entirely beatable. In South Carolina, however, she proved she has juice with African-American voters and Tuesday could spell doom for Bernie Sanders. Sure, he could do well in places like Colorado, but an awful lot of delegates will be determined by Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas and other southern strongholds. Watch to see if Sanders can somehow beat the polls and keep the race competitive - or if he starts looking like a guy ready to head home.
LAST HAND? On the GOP side, only one thing matters: can anyone grab enough delegates to derail Donald Trump? The New York billionaire heads into Tuesday with a big lead, and seemingly every card coming up an ace. If he lays down another hot hand on Tuesday, a few more of the remaining Republican contenders could fold. That will raise hopes in some camps that finally the base will coalesce against Trump –um, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
WHO’S GOT THE MO? So let’s say by Wednesday morning we pretty much know whom the nominees will be. If that is the case, watch the race pivot fast to the single most important question: What kind of enthusiasm is greeting each party’s chosen candidate? To put it more simply: If Trump is the guy, and he once again draws massive numbers of new voters on Tuesday (as he has so far) brace yourself for what could be a wildly unpredictable charge to the general election finish line.
(CNN’s Tom Foreman is the author of My Year of Running Dangerously)