While most primary seasons only have one Super Tuesday, the 2016 season has been remarkable for the simple fact that it has had so many Super Tuesdays. At this point, in fact, we think it would be entirely possible to form an entire Justice League out of the Super Tuesdays we've covered so far — though, generally, the Justice League fought for truth, justice and the American way.
We're not saying one couldn't see those things looking at the primary season we've had so far; we're just saying that you might have to squint really, really hard.
But whether or not the 2016 primaries have been an exercise in watching spirited democracy in action or an exercise in watching the spirt of democracy get pummeled publicly is a debate for minds finer than our own. Instead, we will limit ourselves to the discussion we've carried out in the background of this increasingly raucous primary season — the story of America's Main Street (and side street) businesses as told by PYMNTS Store Front Business Index.
Because if you're feeling a distinct lack of truth, justice and the American way, there is no better data to immerse yourself in, since those small entrepreneurial efforts that dot the American landscape are quite literally the backbone of the American economy.
So, how's that backbone looking in the states that are voting today?
California here they come (right back where they started from).
As the race moves into its last big contest, Donald Trump's already a lock, and the Democratic side is remarkably right back to where it was when voting started in Iowa so many months ago. Hillary Clinton is the certain nominee (now actually a mathematical certainty), and Bernie Sanders doesn't care and isn't going anywhere.
And so, whatever the numbers say, California is the big one, the one that Bernie Sanders said represents the “big enchilada.”
Tasty snack or digestive system nightmare? Depends on which side of the vote you are on.
But for the store front crowd, California can use some spicing up. Looking at the stats, the overall state delivered almost, but not quite, the growth that was seen in the region and the nation overall, falling short by about 20 basis points or so. The big standout, the enchilada of laggards, was the growth of establishments.
Make that decline.
The overall pace here was solidly negative, down 120 basis points, with a jarring counterpoint to the 20 basis points of growth that were seen in the nation as a whole and the slight dip in the region overall. The only metric by which California took flight was the impressive 8 percent growth across the real wage index, bettering the region by 90 basis points and moving toward doubling the 4.9 percent growth seen in the nation.
If store front business growth could use some spicing up in California, it could use just a straight-up shot of adrenaline in New Mexico. Going into today's vote, the store front firms are just lagging across the board.
Growth overall was in positive territory but, at 0.5 percent, not impressively so and far behind the national growth rate of 3.1 percent and the Mountain region's 4 percent. But merely lagging is still better than both lagging and actually falling into negative growth territory, which New Mexico has when it comes to growth of establishments, down 4.9 percent.
The only category where New Mexico beat national numbers was in employment, which clocked in at 3.3 percent to the national 3.1, but it still trailed the regional average of 4 percent. Real wages, on the other hand, trailed both the national rate of 4.9 percent growth and the regional increase of 5 percent to clock in at a more modest 2.3 percent.
Rough economic waters for the store front businesses in the state should possibly be of interest to politics watchers, since New Mexico is considered a potential swing state once the primary showdown officially ends and the national race revs up.
New Jersey takes a lot of flak for being, well, New Jersey and thus the home of the turnpike, the shore and Atlantic City. And while New Jersey residents can reasonably respond Thomas Edison, Bruce Springsteen or Frank Sinatra to the normally derisive attitude saved for New Jersey, the Garden State also has a reasonably strong response with its store front businesses, which surpass both their national and regional counterparts in all measurable categories.
Real wages were the biggest area of growth, up 6 percent, strongly outpacing the Northeast's 3.5 percent average. Establishments grew 2.7 percent to a national 2 percent but still well outpacing the Northeast's overall sluggish 1.4 percent performance. Employment was another area with a smaller gap between New Jersey and its national counterparts, with 3.1 percent growth overall and 3.7 percent growth in New Jersey. But New Jersey is still on the upper end of the regional average, which was a mere 2.3 percent.
Overall, New Jersey's index score of 3.9 percent growth put it ahead of both the nation (with its 3.1 percent growth rate) and the region, which showed an anemic 2.3 percent pace overall.
Known for being Big Sky Country and the home to a lot of cattle ranchers, Montana is well off the beaten path by any reasonable definition of the beaten path. Montana, in terms of population, is 44th — coming in ahead of only Alaska, Wyoming, Vermont, Delaware and the two Dakotas. Montana is roughly 18 times the size of New Jersey by landmass and has less than one-eighth of New Jersey's population.
But Montana put up a strong store front performance. Its overall index score was far ahead of the national average of 3.1 percent and, at 4.7 percent growth, also outpaced the Mountain region's 4 percent. Montana also outpaced national and regional growth rates in establishment growth, which was up 3.7 percent, and employment, which grew by an impressive 5.5 percent.
Montana did, however, have one area where it trailed both national and regional averages: wage growth. Wages in Montana only grew about 4.2 percent, missing the national 4.9 percent average and the Mountain region's 5 percent.