What to expect for Super Tuesday

Courtesy of abc News

Tanner Sutton, writer

After an eventful weekend with three candidacies suspended, the remaining presidential hopefuls have settled in for Super Tuesday, when 14 states (as well as the American Samoa  the Democrats Abroad) will select their favorite of the five candidates still in the race. Super Tuesday 2020 will account for 1,357 delegates, a hefty 34 percent of 3,979 total delegates, with 1,991 being the number to win.

How it Works

This year, as a result of post-2016 reforms, the superdelegate system in which roughly 711 top-level democrats would also get their own delegate has been largely eliminated. Those votes will only be cast non-decisively or decisively in the event that no candidate wins a majority.

The way a candidate earns delegates, is by

a.) Winning total delegates in a state* – 25% of a state’s delegates are distributed proportionally based on that state’s popular vote

b.) Winning Congressional districts* – Each congressional district proportionally awards their assigned delegates according to the popular vote of that district, delegates are assigned based on past presidential voting records

c.) Votes cast by party leaders in the superdelegate system – As of 2016 this will not count towards a candidate’s initial delegate total, it will only come into play in the event of a tie or close margin

*A candidate must win 15% of the popular vote in the state or district to earn any delegates at all

Bernie Sanders is leading in 8 of the 14 states this Tuesday according to 270towin.com, an unbiased election data website. Polls were conducted before March 1st, meaning that many polls still have Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar polling with enough of the vote to earn delegates, and even to prevent Joe Biden from winning in some states. This may be the reason behind the two moderates’ campaign suspension.

Why They Dropped Out

The news from the Buttigieg campaign comes as a surprise considering his impressive polling numbers and an already 26 delegates earned. Amy Klobuchar, while polling lower, still had enough support to stay in the game, not to mention staying ahead of Elizabeth Warren. But the decision actually makes a good deal of sense from a party unification standpoint. 

Since the beginning of the race for the nomination, with 24 candidates, the Democratic Party has struggled to find its identity, needing to decide largely between centrism or socialism. As the candidates were slowly weeded out however, we were left with three moderates, Biden, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar, against one socialist, Bernie Sanders.

It’s no secret that party leaders would rather have a moderate than a radicalist, evidenced by their 2016 nomination of Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. Pete, also a moderate, realized that although he was polling high, a moderate vote split between 3 candidates, would never be able to beat out the socialist front runner. He decided to give up his presidential bid on Sunday night in order to consolidate his supporters behind one candidate, Joe Biden.

Amy Klobuchar likely came to the same conclusion the next day, with both candidates publicly endorsing the former Vice President soon after their withdrawal. Elizabeth Warren, a progressive leaning Senator with similar views to Bernie’s, is still in the race, stating that “no candidate will likely have a path to the majority of delegates.”

What to Expect

The consolidation of the moderate vote will no doubt be seen as the districts ring in their votes, but most especially for Joe Biden. If all of the projected Amy and Pete voters move over to Biden, he will move ahead of Sanders in eight of twelve polled states instead of his current projected two states. It will push him from below 15 percent (the delegate threshold) to above it in eight states meaning he will theoretically earn delegates in all super Tuesday states. Joe Biden would make the greatest jump in Minnesota, no doubt a result of Amy Klobuchar’s home state supporters.

The most closely watched race will be between Biden and Sanders, with Sanders still holding onto a slim lead in a state with 415 delegates. But there is a possibility that Michael Bloomberg could earn a good part of the delegates. Bloomberg is polling above the threshold in 5 states hovering just under 20 percent in those states, but his almost $500 million spending (4th in history for total money spent) of just his own money could scrape together more votes than the polls realize.

Overall, the race will be one to pay close attention to, but there are still 32 states left. And it is always important to remember that polls are estimates, and never predict the outcome of an election with absolute certainty.