F&L: Going Into Super Tuesday

It’s here.

Tuesday’s vote will decide who stays in the race and who goes home.  It may decide who comes out of July’s convention as the final candidate.  In that sense, it’s quite possible it may determine our next president.  I cannot overstate the importance of this primary event.

On the other hand, common wisdom has it that, as always, The Fix Is In.  There’s so many people running against Bernie Sanders that the popular vote is split, and other candidates are unfairly siphoning off his votes.  The Powers That Be are so committed to a Sanders defeat and a contested convention that they’re spending tens of millions of dollars (and, in the case of Bloomberg, hundreds) to further divide the delegates.

But is this really true?  Would all these people line up behind Sanders otherwise?  If not handicapped, is there a real chance he would be able to dominate the convention?  After all, even without the oft-vilified SuperDelegates, the voters rejected him in 2016.  Let us be clear:  In addition to some very obvious, criminally clumsy cheating against him, Bernie Sanders also lost fair and square.  So why wouldn’t this happen all over again?

Now that Buttigieg and Steyer have dropped out, many of their followers will certainly drift over to back Sanders.  On the other hand, a lot will shift to Biden instead, specifically because right now (and with very little justification) he’s perceived by some as the front-runner.  Yes, Sanders is leading in California and popularly across the country, but isn’t it equally possible that the wideness of the field is actually masking his weakness rather than his strength?

(To be sure, the people behind PersistPAC and Kitchen Table, who are funneling dark money in a desperate bid to keep the Warren and Klobuchar campaigns alive through Super Tuesday, are brilliant political analysts, and they quite evidently see Sanders as a major threat.  So there is that.)

The only way to know for sure is to wait and see.

But… heck, what fun is that?  Let’s engage in that great American sport known as handicapping.  We’ll look at each race and what it brings, and examine the potential results from Super Tuesday.

California:  The most populous state in the country, and they’re voting early.  There’s over four hundred delegates being awarded here, and the polls leave us in little doubt as to the result.  This will be a Sanders landslide.  The only question really is who ends up in second place — if anyone, in fact, clears the 15% necessary to score delegates.  There’s a decent chance Warren will place, and Biden’s performance in South Carolina gives him a shot as well, particularly now that Buttigieg is gone.

Texas:  Number two in population, Texas awards over two hundred delegates, and the prediction is evenly split between Biden and Sanders.  However, severe weather is predicted across much of the state, and some of the less enthusiastic voters may well stay home.  Some pundits believe this will be a boon to the senator from Vermont.

Alabama:  Curiously, nobody has bothered to poll Alabama recently.  52 delegates and nobody seems to care much.  Common wisdom has it that Biden will carry the state because of the black vote, but, just as with Texas, severe weather will come into play.  Bloomberg has a following here, and everyone but him and Sanders attended the Black Sunday remembrance in Selma yesterday.

Arkansas:  31 delegates; severe weather; no polling at all for the past month.  Bloomberg, Biden, and Sanders were fairly evenly split in early February, but right now it’s anyone’s guess.  Most of the candidates have spent some time in Little Rock.

Colorado:  Another Sanders stronghold, Colorado will award 67 delegates.  There are rumors that a couple of last-minute high-profile endorsements may tip the scales in favor of Biden, but right now it seems more a question of whether anyone qualifies for second or third place proportional awards.  Incidentally, there’s also no recent polling here.

Maine:  24 delegates and, again, nobody really cares enough to do reliable polling.  Buttigieg was showing a very strong second place to Sanders three weeks ago, and nobody else was approaching third.  Mayor Pete’s drop will throw all of the projections into the air — not that there really are any.

Massachusetts:  This one’s important.  91 delegates and Warren’s (current) home state (she can also claim Oklahoma), very recent polling shows her and Sanders running neck and neck with nobody having a great shot at third place.  If it’s split that’s great for both of them no matter which takes the lead; if there’s a third and/or fourth, it’ll draw down a lot of delegates.

Minnesota:  Klobuchar’s home state, with 75 pledged delegates.  The most reliable polling has Amy in the lead with Bernie not far behind and Warren within striking distance at a respectable third place result.  Interestingly, Klobuchar herself is one of the SuperDelegates.

North Carolina:  110 pledged delegates and very reliable polling.  Biden and Sanders are neck-and-neck, but Bloomberg is polling high enough to be a threat at third place and Warren has a Hail Mary shot at fourth.  This could be make-or-break for the lesser candidates but won’t matter too much to the leaders.

Oklahoma:  Warren’s other home state, but she’s not polling well there.  42 delegates and Biden’s in the lead, but Bloomberg (God help us) may actually take the state according to some recent (but not very reliable) polling.  This one could fragment fairly easily.  Some parts of the state will see some very bad weather.

Tennessee:  64 delegates and nobody cares enough to poll the place.  The Warren campaign has spent a lot of time here, and Sanders has some dedicated volunteers, but there’s precious little data coming in from the field.  It’s an open primary, and some have suggested Republican or Independent spoilers might have an impact; while that’s farfetched, there’s a real chance that the registration requirements will benefit Sanders to a small yet significant extent.

Utah:  Curiously, Bloomberg has focused a ton of money and time here.  That seems strange given the state’s meager 29 delegates, but it may actually keep him on the board going forward.  Sanders has a decent organization here as does Warren; polling shows a wide divide.

Vermont:  Home to Bernie Sanders, who is leading by a vast margin.  It’s remotely possible Warren will qualify, but the state only awards 16 delegates.  Curiously, two of those are awarded by party bosses rather than proportionally; they’re not SuperDelegates, but they appear to serve a similar purpose.  Best I can tell, we won’t actually know their identity until 30 May, and we won’t know their intent until the voting starts in Milwaukee.  Vermont is a weird state.

Virginia:  99 pledged delegates, and it’s anyone’s race.  All five remaining major candidates (I’m excepting Tulsi Gabbard but adding Bloomberg, which makes me physically ill) are within striking distance of delegates here.  Sanders held a comfortable lead before South Carolina, but Biden might possibly benefit here from his momentum there.

American Samoa:  Even though this territory is unable to contribute to the November Election — which is a crime, in my opinion — it nevertheless rates 6 delegates.  Alone on Super Tuesday, the Samoans will caucus; there has been almost no polling.  Tulsi Gabbard is part-Samoan, but I have no idea if that will give her any advantage here.


How this all adds up?  Well, if you’re looking at the primaries as a spectator sport, the contests to watch closely for potential surprises are American Samoa, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, and North Carolina.  The rest of the contests are… well, probably somewhat unimportant in a larger scale; barring the unexpected, they’re foregone conclusions so far as actual delegate counts are concerned.  Every one of them awards proportionately, and a close second is almost as good as a win.

Having said that, now that Buttigieg is out, the big question is whether anyone will pick up the lion’s share of his followers.  If he should unexpectedly endorse someone (unlikely), even a minor candidate, that person would gain disproportionate strength from it.  Otherwise, the moderates are likely to gain the most; that’s Biden and (perhaps wishful thinking) Klobuchar.

Then too, there’s two other factors that will add chaos into the mix:  The weather (which I’ve mentioned) and Coronavirus fears (which I haven’t).  It’s possible that some elderly or immunocompromised voters will avoid the polls from fear of infection.  This could well benefit Sanders, Klobuchar, and Warren, each of whom has a significantly motivated core following.

But whatever happens, the safest bet on tomorrow is that nothing will be decided, most of the minor campaigns will continue coasting forward but with a handful more delegates, and we’ll slouch on toward July:  a divided convention, a compromise candidate, and The End Of The Democratic Party As We Know It!!! Mwahahahahaaaa…  **ahem** …or not, as the case may be.  But I’ll be rooting around in the closet for my yellow vest and spare guillotine, just in case.


Update:  2:30 P.M. Monday — Senator Amy Klobuchar is reportedly ending her campaign.  Rumor has it she’ll be endorsing Joe Biden alongside Pete Buttigieg on the eve of Super Tuesday.  If true, this will have a startling impact on tomorrow’s results.  However, I would remind you all that candidates own neither their delegates nor their voters; people will do as they choose, and Warren is not yet out of the race.


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