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The biggest single day of primaries among the Democrats may still not decide their 2020 presidential nominee as the party is throwing its weight behind Joe Biden against the democratic socialist insurgency of Bernie Sanders.
Fourteen states go into their primaries on Tuesday: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia.
Together, they account for over 1,300 pledged delegates, or about a third of the total. A candidate would need 1,991 pledged delegates for a first-round nomination at the DNC convention in Milwaukee in July, otherwise the unpledged “superdelegates” may decide the nominee. In the primaries and caucuses held so far, only four percent of the delegates have been allocated, but that has been enough to winnow the candidate field considerably.
How few remain
Long-term senator and Barack Obama’s vice president (2009-2017) Joe Biden, 77, had a disastrous showing in early polls only to emerge as the frontrunner after this weekend’s South Carolina primaries, when Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg suddenly dropped out.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), 78, suffered his first setback in South Carolina, but had the lead with 60 pledged delegates over Biden after winning in Nevada and New Hampshire. He also claimed Iowa, after the popular vote in the disastrous caucuses went in his favor – even though Buttigieg was ahead by one delegate somehow. Sanders is still considered a favorite to win in many of the Super Tuesday states, especially those heavily voting Democrat in the general election. ALSO ON RT.COMWith Buttigieg’s exit, the Democratic establishment rallies against Bernie Sanders like in 2016
His colleague Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) remains in the race despite polling worse than either Buttigieg or Klobuchar, but her continued candidacy may depend on whether she carries her home state. Billionaire media mogul and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg will be on the ballot for the first time, putting his hundreds of millions of dollars in ad spending to the test.
Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is also continuing her bid, though she has zero pledged delegates so far and is under tremendous pressure by the DNC establishment to drop out.
Order of Battle
The earliest polls to close will be in Vermont and Virginia, at 7 pm Eastern time (midnight GMT) and the latest in California, at 11 pm ET (0400 GMT) – at which point the results of early voting can be reported, and we’ll have some preliminary information coming in. What follows is the list of states with the number of delegates at stake and the conventional wisdom estimates of who might win the most.
Vermont (16 delegates): Bernie Sanders’s home state, expected to be an easy pick-up for him.
Virginia (99 delegates): Opinion polls showed Sanders on par with Bloomberg and Biden trailing, but they were from three weeks ago and a lot has changed since. Biden has the backing of the party establishment, however.
North Carolina (110 delegates): Widely considered to be another Biden pickup, given his margin of victory in South Carolina and popularity with African-American voters. Polls close at 7:30 pm (0030 GMT).
Polls closing at 8 PM (0100 GMT)
Alabama (52 delegates): Another state where the African-American vote is predicted to back Biden.
Arkansas (31 delegates): Polls slow Biden and Bloomberg ahead of Sanders.
Maine (24 delegates): Sanders has a comfortable lead.
Massachusetts (91 delegates). Polls show Sanders ahead of Warren, at which point her run would effectively be over.
Oklahoma (37 delegates): Similar to Arkansas, with polls showing Biden and Bloomberg ahead of Sanders, and no sign of Native American vote for Warren.
Tennessee (64 delegates): Biden has invested a lot of money in TV ads courting African-American voters, though Sanders has outspent him almost 2:1.
Polls closing at 9 PM (0200 GMT)
Texas (228 delegates): Most polls in Texas will actually close at 8 pm, but El Paso is in the next time zone over and won’t be done before 9. A lot of Texas Democrats voted early, and the party believes the state is in play for the general election, despite repeated disappointments (e.g. Beto O’Rourke).ALSO ON RT.COMTexas, California Democrats prefer socialism to capitalism, Sanders to Biden, new poll says
Colorado (67 delegates): In a state that recently shifted leftward, Sanders is ahead of others thanks to his popularity among the key Latino voter demographic.
Minnesota (75 delegates): Klobuchar was expected to win her home state before dropping out on Monday. Now it’s a toss-up between Sanders and Biden, with the latter presumably bolstered by Klobuchar’s endorsement. Sanders is backed by Minneapolis congresswoman Ilhan Omar and Attorney General Keith Ellison, however.
Late night excitement
Utah (29 delegates) gets done at 10 pm ET (0300 GMT). Polls there show Sanders ahead of Bloomberg, with Biden trailing.
California (415 delegates): This is the Big One, literally. The largest chunk of delegates from the most populous – and most Democrat-leaning – state of the Union. In order to get more sway in the nomination process, California moved its primaries to March up from June. It is also the westernmost state, so when the polls close at 8 pm local time it will be 11 on the East Coast and 0400 GMT. Though Sanders lost the state to Clinton in 2016, the Latino vote may put him on top this time.
The Day After
Tuesday’s primaries will be a major test for Bloomberg, who makes his first appearance on state ballots after an unprecedented ad blitz. If he fails to parlay that into a significant number of delegates, he will have trouble continuing to pose as a potential “white knight” at the convention in Milwaukee.
Biden, on the other hand, will need to show he can attract votes beyond the African-American Democrats in the South, since most of those states tend to go Republican in the general election. His campaign was undeniably bolstered by Buttigieg and Klobuchar suddenly dropping out after South Carolina, feeding speculation among the Democrats that the party is putting its finger on the scales – again – to deny Sanders the nomination.
Sanders has the benefit of the groundwork he laid in 2016, and appears to have appeal among Democrats across the country, but is still distrusted and feared by the party establishment that worked with Hillary Clinton to deny him the nomination four years ago. She is not around for them to rally around this time – unless she intends to make a surprise appearance in Milwaukee, anyway.
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