More than any other change from the 2016 (and earlier) presidential
election cycles, the front-loading of many more delegate selections
into the traditional Super Tuesday date promised to alter the
chemistry of a contested race for the 2020 Democratic nomination.
The 14 Super Tuesday state primaries. with 35% of all delegates,
should now be known as Mega-Tuesday. Returns showed Joe
Biden continuing his sudden comeback begun only three days
before when he did better than expected in winning the South
Carolina primary, defeating then-frontrunner Bernie Sanders.
After Biden’s strong showing in South Carolina, rival presidential
candidates Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar ended their
campaigns and endorsed the former vice president. This clearly
helped Biden on Super Tuesday as he easily defeated both Sanders
and Michael Bloomberg in most southern states --- with the
exception of delegate-rich Texas where the Vermont senator
almost tied Biden. Not known in early returns was the outcome in
the biggest state of all --- California ---where Sanders had led in
pre-primary polls. Later, the returns from the West Coast showed
Sanders winning decisively in California, Colorado and Utah--- and
a bounty of delegates in that region.
It became, in many ways, a regional electoral event --- with Biden
doing well in southern states (most of which will go Republican in
November), and Sanders doing well in the northeast and far west
(most of which will go Democratic in November). Not on the ballot
on Super Tuesday were the battleground states of Florida, Ohio,
Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona. Biden had already
done poorly in the battleground states of Iowa, New Hampshire and
Nevada, so labeling his performance on Super Tuesday as a
complete “comeback” might be premature.
Perhaps the most disappointed candidate on Super Tuesday was
billionaire Michael Bloomberg whose only victory was in American
Samoa where he spent millions while the major candidates ignored
the tiny far-away U.S. territory. After spending hundreds of millions
on his Super Tuesday strategy, Bloomberg ended up with only a few
national delegates. He has now ended his candidacy and endorsed
Elizabeth Warren also came up empty-handed on Super Tuesday,
even coming in third in her home state of Massachusetts. She, too,
has now ended her candidacy --- but has not yet thrown her support
to anyone. Most of her voter base will likely go to Sanders.
The Democratic establishment, more moderate liberal voters, and
many down-ballot candidates and their campaigns have now fully
launched a “Stop Bernie” effort --- coalescing at perhaps the last
moment. But not only do battleground state primaries lie ahead,
so do other states with large numbers of delegates such as New
York, Illinois and New Jersey.
It would seem that if there are only two viable candidates from
now on, one of them should reach a delegate majority prior to the
July national convention in Milwaukee. If for some reason no one
obtains a majority. there are almost 700 super-delegates who, after
the first ballot, can vote at the convention.
Joe Biden is once again the frontrunner, but with more than half
the delegates still to be chosen, and a pattern of sudden
momentum changes already occurring in this campaign cycle, the
2020 Democratic contest is not quite over yet.
Copyright (c) 2020 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.