Former Vice President Joe Biden touts a new lease on life after his dominating victory in the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary, and former New York City Mayor and multi-billionaire Michael Bloomberg continues to spend mountains of money on his campaign. But current frontrunner Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is poised to fell them both with two swift blows on Super Tuesday, March 3.
Bloomberg stakes his all on exceedingly strong showings in the large states up for grabs, and Biden trumpets how he can win in places progressives can’t against President Trump – such as Texas. Sanders sweeping California and Texas may thus very well prove crushing to his two chief remaining rivals for the nomination.
California Sun Bern
The self-described democratic socialist has an enormous lead in polling in the Golden State and is widely expected to take it. Of course, those polls were conducted before Biden’s romp in South Carolina. Nevertheless, the Vermont senator is a natural favorite among staunchly progressive Californians over Biden or Bloomberg, both of whom seek to seize the mantle of “sensible” Democrat. That’s not the greatest argument to make in a state that is known for being anything but sensible politically. At huge rallies in San Jose and Los Angeles on March 1, Sanders painted the contest as a one-on-one battle between the tide of change represented by his campaign and the old-guard establishment represented by Biden. This will certainly resonate with Left Coast voters.
It’s interesting that Sanders paid no mind to the Bloomberg challenge in his California speeches. Bloomberg is 19 points behind Sanders in the latest CBS News Battleground Tracker/YouGov polling in the state, even lagging six points behind the moribund Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) campaign. At 12%, Bloomberg is close to the 15% threshold for picking up delegates, but based on his strategy of ignoring the first four smaller states and focusing on Super Tuesday, he needs a far better performance in California. A whopping 495 delegates are available in the state, and right now Sanders looks very good to grab the lion’s share.
Perhaps more tellingly, Sanders appears stout in Texas as well, much to the chagrin of those who claim he is too radical for the party as a whole. An NBC News/Marist poll released March 1 showed Sanders at 34% in the Lone Star State, with Biden second at 19% and Bloomberg third at 10%. Texas sends a sizable 228 delegates to the convention floor.
Biden’s big showing with black voters contributed mightily to his victory in South Carolina. But Sanders had sturdy backing among Latinos in earlier races in Iowa and Nevada. That bodes especially well for him in the two mega-states. New polling by CNN shows Sanders accruing 50% of the Latino vote in California and 36% in Texas, 15% higher than Biden there. This demographic is every bit as crucial in these two states as black voters were in South Carolina. Huge advantage: Sanders.
There has been speculation that former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s sudden decision to drop out March 1 would provide a boost to Biden. Buttigieg has been driving in the moderate lane for some time now but also frequently expressed his admiration for Sanders’ progressive ideals. Buttigieg never did carve out a definable base of supporters, which is the main reason he is now gone, so it is hard to speculate as to just exactly where his projected supporters will go.
What we do know about the field right now is that two of the top three candidates are running as the moderate alternative to Sanders. If there is any vote-canceling going on March 3, it is much more likely to be between Biden and Bloomberg than among Sanders and the dead-campaign-walking progressive Warren.
Bloomberg has unabashedly run an urbanite campaign that openly chose to ignore smaller fish like Iowa and New Hampshire while honing in on the whales. California and Texas rank one and two on the list of most populous states in the nation. If Bloomberg fails to keep pace with Sanders in both then, given the tenor of his campaign, how can he claim to have a viable path moving forward? Biden has crafted his message around the notion that a Sanders nomination would be a calamity for the party in non-blue states. Could he credibly portray himself as the man who can stop the “revolutionary” Sanders after losing to him in a state like Texas?
The Biden and Bloomberg candidacies are more fragile than they look. In two firm strokes on Super Tuesday, Sanders can put an effective end to their bids and all but wrap up the nomination.
Read more from Joe Schaeffer.
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