F&L: Another Tuesday

They call it “Super Tuesday II”, but it’s only six states and a couple are foregone conclusions.    Mississippi is almost certainly going Biden, and most of the others are leaning that way.  The wins and losses are well known in advance, so don’t expect big surprises.

Except — maybe you should.

Whereas Sanders pulled completely out of Mississippi a while back, he’s been campaigning in the other states.  There’s no decent polls out of Missouri, and nobody much cares about the miniscule delegate awards from Idaho and North Dakota.  Common wisdom has Biden taking Missouri, but we simply don’t know enough.  So that’s three states that appear to be anyone’s for the taking… except they really aren’t.  They all voted Republican in 2016, and Biden’s clearly the more conservative candidate.  If that weren’t enough, North Dakota is a “firehouse caucus”, run by The Party rather than the state; traditionally, the advantages in these go to the Party candidate.  (That’s not Sanders, in case you haven’t noticed.)

So it’s remotely possible that enough fanatical Sanders supporters will go to the polls to outweigh a lukewarm Biden showing, particularly in the light of Coronavirus fears among the older population.  In a small state or a caucus, that could actually overwhelm a favorite candidate, which means there’s a small but very real chance that Idaho and North Dakota will go for Bernie.  It’s highly unlikely, though.

Michigan is where surprises traditionally happen.  In 2016, Clinton held the edge in polls; Sanders won handily.  It swings back and forth, and predictions are rarely correct.  Common wisdom picks Biden not only because of the polls but also because Sanders — who you’d think would do well among the urban poor — is somehow unable to appeal to urban black populations.  (A few fringe pundits are talking about anti-Jewish racism, but surely that can’t be the case — not in the Democratic Party.)

Washington State is the big question of the night.  Seattle is, in a sense, the cultural epicenter of American socialism; if Bernie’s got any stronghold, it’s there on the Left Coast.  On the other hand, much of the rest of the state is strongly conservative, and again, Biden’s conservative.  What’s more, Coronavirus fears are far more likely to restrict urban than rural voters.

It’s pretty sure that Biden’s going to take the majority of delegates tonight; that’s not really a question.  The big contests, he probably won’t win with much more than half the vote, which leaves the Sanders campaign still within striking distance of a solid gain and a contested convention in July.  And no matter what happens, it’s unlikely that Bernie will drop out tomorrow.

On the other hand, we really don’t know.  It’s only a matter of time before someone points out that holding a primary is a contagion risk, and either candidate could accept that logic and fold their campaign overnight.  It would take a huge ego to reject it — either that or a complete acceptance of the principle that it’s up to the people, not the candidates, to decide elections.

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