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Super Tuesday: An End and a Beginning

The gladiators Trump and Biden are prepared to commence their final duel.

by | Mar 5, 2024 | Articles, Opinion, Politics

Ordinarily, the focus of Super Tuesday’s bevy of contests stretching across the entire national map is the horserace: who is up, who is down, who needs to win and where, and how the race might look once the night is over. But, this time around, with the two most recognizable figures in the land all but certain to become their parties’ nominees and a rematch of 2020 in the offing, there is little drama surrounding the actual outcome of the 15 primaries set for today.

But that doesn’t mean this day will be inconsequential.

Super Tuesday Map

(Image credit: Ballotpedia)

From north to south, east to west, more voters will cast ballots today than at any time other than the general election itself. With more than one-third of the 2,429 delegates to the GOP Convention and a similar percentage of Democratic party delegates up for grabs, and the results all but baked-in at this point, the focus will likely turn to the relative turnout numbers between Trump and Biden. This will speak to the crucial factor of enthusiasm, yet another drag on dispirited Democrats.

Voters will go to the polls in large states like California and Texas, relatively large states including Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, and Colorado; medium-sized states including Alabama, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, plus the low-population states of Vermont and Alaska – along with American Samoa. Of all the states voting, only North Carolina had been considered a 2024 battleground state, but it has now been put in the Trump column after he amassed as much as double-digit leads over Biden in polling of the Tar Heel State.

Of course, Democrats will do the expected and deliver large margins for Joe Biden in every race today. The White House and Democratic National Committee did their job of protecting the incumbent by driving out any hint of serious intra-party opposition. And Trump, way ahead in virtually every state voting this Super Tuesday, will deliver another beatdown on Nikki Haley, whose continued presence in the race despite one landslide loss after another, will likely come to an end even as she continues to raise serious money – $12 million in February alone. The political future of the 52-year-old former governor of South Carolina and UN ambassador under Trump will rest on how she handles her inevitable exit. If she explicitly endorses her former boss, resists the temptation to join the No Labels movement, and promises to actively campaign for Trump, her future in the party could still be bright. But if she goes rogue, all bets are off. At the same time, it is also true that, if Trump loses in November, she will likely be at the forefront of a reset of Trump’s MAGA agenda and a return to a more traditional form of conservatism or neoconservatism in the GOP.

The Senate primary in California today to replace the late Dianne Feinstein also holds interest. Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff, Katie Porter, and Barbara Lee are on the ballot along with former LA Dodgers star Steve Garvey, a Republican who has been leading the 4-way race to date. Under the state’s open primary system, candidates from both parties are presented on the same ballot. The top two finishers – regardless of party – will face each other in a November runoff for all the marbles. A win by Garvey in the bluest of blue states would be a portent of one miserable night for the left.

The Real Story of Super Tuesday 2024

The narrative you will hear once the Super Tuesday results are in will transcend the likely impending exit of Ms. Haley, who kind of gave it away by not even scheduling a campaign event on Monday, one day before Super Tuesday. With a dozen or more victories seemingly in the bag for both Trump and Biden, the real story of Super Tuesday is that it will effectively signal the end of primary season – the remaining contests will be merely pro forma – and the start of what promises to be the most tumultuous general election campaign we have ever witnessed. And that includes 2016 and 2020.

The general election campaign essentially kicks off starting Wednesday, and the first salvo will undoubtedly come from Biden – dressed up in the usual official language – in his State of the Union address two days hence, on March 7. And then off we go.

While Trump could credibly base his entire campaign around the shortcomings of Biden, it is the reverse for the current occupant of the White House. Left with no other choice, Biden will certainly resort to a scorched-earth campaign after repeatedly trying and failing to overcome his glaring deficits in every area except abortion. In an inexplicable act of political malpractice, he was told to start touting “Bidenomics,” inventing a definition for his unpopular economic policies, thus making him even easier to attack. He has all but bribed young voters, whose support for him dropped precipitously, with student loan forgiveness during an election year. He has been unable to repackage his disastrous record at the southern border or on the international stage, defined by the trio of disasters in Afghanistan, where the Taliban has now resumed beheadings; Ukraine, a grinding, explosively divisive world crisis; and the increasingly insoluble Israel-Hamas war, which continues unabated, chopping off a significant chunk of his support among progressives.

If that wasn’t enough, public perception of his neurological condition, if not his age, will continue to haunt him right up to November 5. They can make him sit instead of stand, deliver remarks strictly by teleprompter and do nothing beyond the minimum. But he faces a huge conundrum: In order to come back and win, he must get out more in front of the electorate to overcome the image of a doddering old man with a poor memory. But if he does so, there is a very real risk of exacerbating an already unfixable problem.

At the same time, one suspects that, should Biden try to revive his infamous statement in 2020 that if you are black and don’t vote for him, then “you ain’t black,” it would fall on deaf ears at best. This time, he is hemorrhaging with his baseline black and brown voters, who at this point should be safely in the Democrat column. Instead, he is falling through the floor among both groups. But perhaps the ultimate gut punch is The New York Times reporting that he has dropped into a tie with Trump among women, whose abandonment of Trump in large numbers last time was decisive in handing Biden the keys to the White House.

Biden will resort to the only argument he has left to make, and it’s the same one he has intoned from the moment his campaign was rescued in the 2020 primaries: that Trump’s return to the White House would signal the end of democracy as we know it and the consequent rise of a full-on dictatorship. But that’s not all. At the same time, panicked Democrats have, according to multiple sources, explicitly threatened and vowed to destroy challenger Dean Phillips, and any Democrat who cavorts with the No Labels movement. They have already marginalized a legacy Democrat , Robert F. Kennedy Jr., refusing even Secret Service protection for the scion of a family ripped apart by two assassinations. These are not the actions of a party confident of victory.

After a season of foregone conclusions, the real race for the White House, the one so many people have expected but dreaded, begins this Super Tuesday. It will be a showdown for the ages, with the outcome affirming a vision radically different than the alternative, and the country waiting anxiously to see if it will get a return to the days of America First, or the continued march of a hard left that has swallowed up one institution after another, now including the Democratic Party. And despite the best efforts of Democrats to use the legal system to throw Donald Trump into a cage, it will in the end be decided as it should, by the American people choosing between opposite visions of the future.

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