Despite the best efforts of the Democratic Party, there’s going to be an election today for over 1,000 delegates to a convention that the party hopes will be as perfunctory as all primaries held after March.
As of now there are three major candidates of standing remaining in the race (the Three Bs- Bernie, Biden, & Bloomberg) with Elizabeth Warren glowering from the cheap seats.
The two big prizes up for grabs are California (415 pledged) and Texas (228 pledged). In addition to those two large delegate pots, 12 states and a territory will hold contests with the magic 15% threshold determining whether candidates qualify for delegates on either the at-large/statewide level or in the congressional/legislative districts.
The divided field favored Bernie Sanders’ chances of scoring a plurality of the delegates on Super Tuesday though with the convenient exit of several candidates on the eve of the big vote, it seems the vice-president’s seemingly resurgent (he has only won a single state) candidacy combined with the drop outs and endorsements could help Biden absorb the Bernie Bros’ blows.
Here’s what to look for tonight when the results come in:
1) Is the Cake Baked? Millions of early votes have already been cast with many before Biden got his second (or fourth) wind. Are the drop outs too little too late?
The overwhelming majority of participants in the Nevada caucuses had done the deed during Early Voting, which didn’t help Warren whose strong debate performance did not translate in a big comeback in Nevada because so many votes were already in the bucket.
2) A Bitter or Bumper Bloomberg Vote Harvest. The billionaire ex-NYC mayor had dropped hundreds of millions in media but stayed out of the first four states, wagering he alone could sustain a pricey nationwide ad campaign.
With his name finally appearing in a ballot outside of Dixville Notch, this is the moment where the media titan was going to make his move.
And then Pocahontas went Crazy Horse on him in two debates. However a good bit of the Super Tuesday vote had been locked in before Warren performed an autopsy on him before a live audience. We will see if Bloomberg got more value out of the large sums of campaign money he laid down than Tom Steyer did with his money. Otherwise Steyer won’t be the only billionaire to have “backed his azz out” the election.
3) Voter Transferency. Who’s to say Pete Buttigieg’s endorsement moves his votes straight to Biden’s camp. Or Amy Klobuchar?
While all three portrayed themselves as centrist (since when is abortion up to the moment before birth a moderate position?) I believe the divide between them is not so much ideological but a matter of person.
Remember, Sanders didn’t rack up so much vote in 2016 because of what he stood for but rather who he was running against. Biden is a less impressive stand in for Hillary. And the only thing that is historic about Biden’s candidacy is his age.
Having covered caucuses and events involving all three candidates and their supporters I can attest the groups don’t overlap so neatly.
Buttigieg had teenagers, progressives, gays, and young families packing his events with an overarching theme of not embracing the same old same old. And nobody in this race is more same old than Joe Biden.
Klobuchar had a lot of support from suburban women and those who felt taken for granted by the political establishment. A t-shirt seen at Klobuchar events read “This isn’t fly over land, this is home.”
Does any of this sound like fertile Biden territory?
An argument could be made that Biden would more than likely be the last choice from the Buttigieg and Klobuchar core constituencies.
I’d wager that much of the Klobuchar vote goes to Warren and a good bit of the Buttigieg support goes to Sanders or Bloomberg.
4) Small Window. Funny how there was a ten day gap between the media carnival that was the New Hampshire primary and the not-so-exciting Nevada caucuses (that was mostly an absentee ballot event) yet there was a mere 72 hours separating the “critical”South Carolina primary and California-Texas-Virginia-Massachusetts-Tennessee-Etc-Etc-Etc.
Along with the large early vote total are three days enough for Biden to refuel his candidacy with staff, cash, and cred?
5) Voter Backlash. Talk about bad optics for a party that was accused of rigging their last nomination adventure. Voters might like the folks who dropped out but they might not be pleased with those who dropped them out.
6) Does Biden Keep Running Up the Score with the Black Vote? The ex-veep’s strong support from the black community in South Carolina helped him go from a three state skid to a thumping win but will Biden do the same in other states that have sizable black populations?
7) Los Bernie Hermanos. They powered Sanders’s big victory in Nevada but will they be around on Tuesday?
Of course Democrats might also be at a point where they just want to get on with it one way or the other and jump in line behind Biden (though none of his rallies indicated that such a feeling was prevalent).
So what’s going to happen?
In the first four contests I was pretty accurate in my projections but with so many states, so much early vote cast, and moving candidates, the polls are essentially fried.
California: Bernie, Warren, Biden, Bloomberg
Texas: Bernie, Biden, Bloomberg, Warren
Virginia: Biden, Bernie, Bloomberg though all three getting delegates
North Carolina: Bernie, Biden, Bloomberg
Alabama: Biden, Bernie, Bloomberg
Arkansas: Bloomberg, Biden, Bernie
Oklahoma: Bernie, Bloomberg, Biden
Massachusetts: Warren, Bernie (swan song for Poca)
Minnesota: Bernie, Warren
Maine: Bernie, Warren
Utah: Bernie, Bloomberg
Colorado: Bernie, Warren
Tennessee: Biden, Bloomberg, Bernie
American Samoa: +Fearless prediction+ Tulsi gets delegates in her homeland