There’s no question that his South Carolina Democratic presidential primary win was a massive moment for Joe Biden’s campaign. He stated in early February that South Carolina was his “real firewall,” and thanks in part to the endorsement of House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) last week, the state’s voters delivered for him in a big way.
Here’s the delegate count as it stands now:
The latest Democratic delegate counts, per the AP. pic.twitter.com/PkIs7ZhW0g
— Sister Toldjah Le Pew ? (@sistertoldjah) March 2, 2020
Will Biden’s Saturday victory be enough to steer momentum in his direction and away from Sen. Bernie Sanders come Super Tuesday and beyond?
Mike LaChance argued a few days ago that it might not be because time is not on the Biden campaign’s side. I’m inclined to agree with him based on several factors.
CALIFORNIA, TEXAS, AND NORTH CAROLINA
On March 3rd, these three states will be the biggest Super Tuesday prizes.
California has 416 delegates up for grabs, and all February polls show Sen. Bernie Sanders with comfortable leads heading into Tuesday’s contest, with Warren coming in a distant second place. Biden has not really been competitive there since mid to late January.
In Texas, which has 228 delegates, Biden has proven to be somewhat more competitive, but the state is still Sanders’ to lose.
Biden should fare a little better in North Carolina (110 delegates), where he currently has the edge, but it’s only a slight edge. Even if he wins the state, should Sanders’ come in at a close second, they could end up with roughly the same number of delegates. This scenario would not help Biden catch up should Bernie have the expected resounding victories in Texas and California.
Keep in mind that while South Carolina polls were erratic in the final two weeks before the primary and in some cases showed Sanders closing in on Biden, the polls for Texas, California, and North Carolina have been a lot more consistent.
Pete Buttigieg dropping out could help Biden in North Carolina more so than in Texas and California. But if several recent national polls are reliable indicators, Buttigieg’s supporters are split on who their second choice would be. This could mean that his base of support will cause a divide between all remaining candidates instead of primarily benefiting one.
More later on that.
MIKE BLOOMBERG LOOMS LARGE
It is in Texas, in particular, where Mike Bloomberg’s candidacy looms unusually large for Biden. Bloomberg has not been on the ballot thus far but will be on Super Tuesday, and he has pulled even with Biden in Texas.
The same is true for Virginia, which has 99 delegates. Sanders leads there, but Bloomberg has pulled ahead of Biden. This could prove especially problematic for Biden as there is a 15% qualifying threshold for delegates in each state, and breaking even at 15% for Biden won’t get him the number of delegates he needs to surge ahead of Bernie.
THE AMY KLOBUCHAR FACTOR
Not surprisingly, Sen. Amy Klobuchar should win her home state of Minnesota on Super Tuesday. The state has 75 delegates, and it’s entirely possible that Biden won’t win a single one. If Klobuchar runs away with it, look for her to stay in the race.
BEYOND SUPER TUESDAY
There are a couple of delegate-rich states in March that Biden might do well in post-Super Tuesday, but Bloomberg could complicate matters for him in at least one of them.
With 219 delegates, Florida holds its primary on March 17th. Sanders’ praise of Fidel Castro will likely sink him there, and he may not win any delegates at all. Assuming Bloomberg finishes a strong second to Biden, he will pull away much-needed delegates from him.
On March 24th, Georgia holds its primary, and its 105 delegates are up for grabs. There’s not a lot of polling data to go on for the state. But being next to South Carolina and with the most recent poll showing Biden leading by double digits, Georgia may be one of only a handful of delegate-rich states Biden can lay claim to going into April.
None of this means that Biden’s campaign will be over by the end of March. On the contrary, this data points to the strong possibility that Democrats could be facing their worst fear come convention time in July: No clear winner and a brokered convention at which their superdelegates would decide the Democrat nominee.
As if to confirm this, Bloomberg said in an interview last week that he planned on staying in the race for the long haul:
In an interview with NBC News’ Kasie Hunt, Bloomberg said “as long as you have a chance of winning,” he would “absolutely” stay in the race.
“Why would I spend all of this money, all of this time out of my life, and wear and tear, you know, which I love — incidentally, (it) reminds me of my three campaigns in New York for mayor, which I did like,” he told Hunt, the host of “KasieDC.” “The difference here is I’ve got to fly from event to event where there I used to drive from event to event. But yeah sure, I love it, I am going to stay right to the bitter end, as long as I have a chance.”
Bloomberg said that if Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., hit the delegate threshold to secure a majority ahead of the Democratic National Convention this summer, then he would not continue his presidential bid. If Sanders had amassed only a plurality, however, Bloomberg says he will keep pressing forward.
“I mean, if it was one vote away from a majority, then you’d have to start thinking about (getting out),” Bloomberg said. “But yeah, if it’s just a plurality, you got to be in it to win it. Anybody that goes in, yeah, I’m running a race, and I’m behind with one lap to go. What, am I going to quit? No, you run harder.”
Warren’s campaign manager has also signaled she is taking this to the convention:
Here’s the full Warren campaign memo on fighting for the nomination at the convention. It’s a long shot, and lots can change along the way, but it’s her best (only?) play right now to keep supporters engaged and carry on. The new cash windfall helps. https://t.co/r41aqegAhd
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) March 1, 2020
To add to the speculation, 538 polling guru Nate Silver believes that Buttigieg dropping out increases the likelihood of a brokered convention happening:
OK, so our forecast has been updated with Buttigieg dropping out. The major effect is to help "no majority" at the expense of Sanders for the reason I explained above. ^^https://t.co/JDz2dZ8bqR
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) March 2, 2020
While South Carolina was a beautiful feather in Biden’s cap, Super Tuesday will tell us much more about the state of the Democratic race going forward.
— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —DONATE
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