A Look at the First Four Races Before Super Tuesday — It’s Way Too Early to Write Off Joe Biden
Author: Greg Valliere
December 4, 2019
THE PACE PICKS UP soon, with the next Democrats’ debate on Dec. 19 and then the first actual voting in Iowa on Feb. 3. Michael Bloomberg and others are aiming for Super Tuesday on March 3, but let’s take a quick look this morning at what might come before then.
OUR BOTTOM LINE: To voters around the country who aren’t paying much attention, it may come as a surprise to see Joe Biden finish third or even fourth in the first two races, as the country becomes more acquainted with Pete Buttigieg. But then Biden has a good chance of a comeback, giving him momentum ahead of Super Tuesday. Here’s our rundown . . .
Iowa, Feb. 3 — Only 41 delegates are at stake (out of nearly 2,000 needed to win the nomination), but Iowa will give someone a shot of momentum. Buttigieg leads narrowly in most polls, with Elizabeth Warren falling behind Bernie Sanders for second place in some polls. This race is fluid, to put it mildly, and perhaps there’s a little room for Amy Klobuchar or Cory Booker to break into double digits.
New Hampshire, Feb. 11 — Even fewer delegates (24) are at stake, but this is the first traditional primary, not a caucus, and it could be a rough night for Biden, who could finish anywhere from first to fourth. Buttigieg has a narrow lead, but those of us who grew up in New Hampshire know how brutal the weather can be — so who has the most passionate supporters, willing to vote on an icy day in February? Bernie Sanders, who could pull off an upset.
Nevada, Feb. 22 — Finally a state with lots of black and unionized voters, the perfect location for Biden to mount a comeback. Polls show him in the lead, with Sanders and Warren virtually tied and Buttigieg not even in double digits. Thirty six delegates are at stake.
South Carolina, Feb 29 — Biden leads by at least 20 points in most polls, reflecting his strong support from African-Americans. Warren and Sanders have modest backing from black voters, and Buttigieg has virtually none. Can Booker last until this race? The bottom line in South Carolina, with 54 delegates at stake, is clear: if Biden doesn’t win, his campaign will be on life support. We think he will win this primary.
THEN COMES SUPER TUESDAY, with some very high stakes: California (416 delegates), Texas (228), North Carolina (110), Virginia (99), etc. The more we look at these early races, the more it makes sense for Michael Bloomberg to skip the small states and focus on Super Tuesday; he has the money, obviously, to win a lot of delegates.
FOR NOW, WE THINK BIDEN is the best positioned. Assuming he wins Nevada and South Carolina, he doesn’t need a clear victory in California; he should do well on March 3 in Texas, North Carolina and Virginia, probably winning the latter two states. All the other candidates need to win California.
AFTER SEVERAL MORE BIG PRIMARIES in March, we think there will be four candidates still standing: Biden, Bloomberg, Buttigieg and either Warren or Sanders — all white, and all old, except for Buttigieg. It’s still too early to predict the nominee with any degree of confidence, and a brokered convention starting on July 13 is possible, but this much appears likely — it’s way too early to write off Joe Biden.
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