Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday March 3, 2020
Here’s What’s at Stake in Super Tuesday States
The contests on Tuesday may be the single most important day on the primary calendar, with the potential to elevate one candidate as a decisive front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.
If one Democrat — most likely Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont — builds a wide lead of several hundred delegates over the rest of the field, it could become exceedingly difficult for other candidates to catch up over the remaining three months of primary elections.
But it is by no means certain that Mr. Sanders or anyone else will establish a controlling advantage on Super Tuesday, and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is hopeful that a late surge of momentum will keep the final margin close.
The vast diversity of the country and the internal divisions of the Democratic Party will be on display across a landscape of elections that covers the swollen suburbs of the Mid-Atlantic and the Sun Belt; traditional Democratic strongholds in New England and the Upper Midwest; the booming cities of the upper South and the interior West, and large rural stretches across both regions.
For any one candidate to dominate that map would be an extraordinary show of strength.
It is the closest we will get, in this long campaign season, to a national day of voting in the nomination race. But the balance of influence on Super Tuesday is weighted toward the West, represented by huge states like California and Texas. Other big population centers in the country — electoral prizes like Florida, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois — are still weeks from voting.
Mr. Sanders is highly likely to come out of Super Tuesday with a lead in the delegate count. But the size of that lead is a big question mark, and so is the number of states Mr. Sanders might win outright.
There are few states out of reach for Mr. Sanders. In theory, he could win virtually everywhere on Super Tuesday, except perhaps Alabama, where moderate African-Americans who lean toward Mr. Biden make up a huge share of the primary electorate.
The Vermont senator has even been showing strength in Massachusetts, the home state of his rival, Senator Elizabeth Warren. He also has a chance of capturing Minnesota, which is now up for grabs after Senator Amy Klobuchar decided to exit the race on Monday. Mr. Sanders won the state in 2016.
The race began to take a dramatic turn on Sunday after former Mayor Pete Buttigieg dropped out, clearing the way for moderate voters to coalesce around candidates who may be better positioned to stop Mr. Sanders. The exits of both Mr. Buttigieg and Ms. Klobuchar could lift Mr. Biden’s political fortunes on Tuesday, but might also benefit Ms. Warren and Michael R. Bloomberg.
Mr. Biden received the big victory in South Carolina that he was looking for, but it remains to be seen how much of a lift he will get heading into Super Tuesday. One problem: Until this past weekend, he had not campaigned in a Super Tuesday state in over a month, aside from fund-raising.
After his fourth-place finish in Iowa and his fifth-place finish in New Hampshire, Mr. Biden planted himself in Nevada and then in South Carolina — and he achieved the results he was looking for in those two states. But that came at the cost of campaigning elsewhere. He visited North Carolina, Alabama and Virginia this past weekend, and he is campaigning in Texas on Monday before heading to California.
Mr. Biden’s team is focusing on congressional districts that play to his strengths, such as those with large numbers of black voters.
Mr. Biden’s operation on the ground across the Super Tuesday states is also conspicuously thin. He has only a single office in California and four in Texas. By comparison, Mr. Bloomberg’s campaign says it has 24 offices in California and 19 in Texas.
Still, Mr. Biden has some significant advantages heading into Tuesday’s contests. He emerged triumphant from the South Carolina primary, which provided him with a burst of positive attention, and the endorsements from Ms. Klobuchar and Mr. Buttigieg offered a signal to moderate voters to embrace his candidacy. Mr. Biden already had a long roster of prominent endorsers in Super Tuesday states, which has grown even larger in recent days.
He is also relying on his status as a household name and the goodwill that remains among Democrats from his time serving as President Barack Obama’s vice president. (NYTimes)