Super Duper Tuesday
Here it is y'all - the biggest moment of the 2020 race so far. It has been an incredibly dynamic month. Last week, I wrote about the frontrunner status of Sen. Bernie Sanders. Only a few short weeks ago, that would have been an unlikely assertion. But, this has been a race with many unlikely changes.
Take, for example, the last three days of the Pete Buttigieg campaign. On Saturday, the Iowa Democratic party voted to certify that Pete Buttigieg won the state, sealing an unlikely victory for the outsider candidate. Then on Sunday, Mayor Pete dropped out of the race abruptly. Yesterday (Monday, the eve of Super Tuesday) Mayor Pete endorsed Vice President Biden.
It has been a lot to keep up with.
Biden won a resounding and impressive victory in South Carolina on Saturday. Tom Steyer, Amy Klobuchar, and Mayor Pete dropped within two days of his win, and only moments before Super Tuesday.
So, as of right now, here's the state of the race.
Biden has emerged as the moderate alternative to Bernie Sanders. Biden has secured the endorsements of Pete, Amy, and even Beto O'Rourke. Bernie, however, still leads the national polling average (according to Real Clear Politics), but is facing the sharpest test of his campaign to date. Elizabeth Warren and Michael Bloomberg are still in the race, but as of right now, both are seen as having a narrow path to the nomination. Super Tuesday is here, and 1/3 of the total delegates are in play for the remaining candidates.
I wanted to know what to watch for tonight, so I decided to look at all of the states, the total delegates at stake, and the current polling to determine which states are most important to watch tonight. I broke them down into three tiers:
Tier 1 - The Big Enchiladas (Must Watch): California and Texas
These two are significant for a number of reasons.
1. Together, they account for 47.3% of the total number of delegates at stake - 643 of the total 1357.
2. Sanders looks poised to gobble up hundreds of delegates in California - but Biden looks like he will also gain major delegate numbers in the state as well.
3. Texas is very, very close (and has only gotten closer). Sanders is currently leading by a point and a half in the average of polls in Texas, which is not a significant or safe lead. Additionally, Biden's campaign is gaining momentum and secured the endorsement of O'Rourke. Texas could very well determine the narrative of the whole evening.
Tier 2 - The Notables: Massachusetts, Minnesota, Tennessee
This second tier is for states with a significant number of delegates (more than 50) and whose polling is incredibly close. A victory for either Biden or Sanders in all of these states would be huge.
Massachusetts is a particularly interesting state to watch as Warren seeks to continue to position herself in the campaign. However, she is trailing in the polls in her home state, and Bernie could play the role of spoilsport for her on her home turf tonight.
Minnesota is notable because of Sen. Klobuchar's absence. She only dropped yesterday. While she was leading in many of the recent polls there, Bernie (surprisingly) was outpacing her this weekend. With Amy no longer in the race, and now endorsing Biden, perhaps Biden can sneak a win in Minnesota.
Tennessee is the sort of state that Biden should be winning - southern, slightly more conservative Democrats. That said, Bernie is within 5 points of Biden in the state. If Bernie wins Tennessee, we are probably witnessing a dominant night for the Sanders campaign.
Tier 3 - Safe Bets and Smaller Markets: North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Alabama, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Utah, Maine, Vermont, Democrats Abroad, American Samoa
This third tier is statistically significant - it accounts for 35% of the total delegates on Super Tuesday. That said, even the larger states (North Carolina and Virginia) are polling safely for their candidates of choice and we are not likely to see an upset by the returns in any of these states. The leader in all of the states in this tier is ahead by at least 6 points in the polls, and an upset is not likely.
As of right now, the total delegates for each candidate are as follows:
Bernie - 60
Biden - 54
Pete - 26
Warren - 8
Amy - 7
Those numbers will change (a lot) by the time all the votes are tallied tonight. So far, only 115 delegates have been pledged for the candidates. 115 delegates is equivalent to only 11% of the total delegates at stake today.
Whatever the result, we are bound to see a shift in the overall campaign narrative coming out of tonight.