Needed 1991
Biden 527
Sanders 475
Warren 48
Buttigieg 26
Bloomberg 24
Klobuchar 7
Gabbard 1
Remaining 2871
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TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Biden Has More Delegates Now
      •  Bloomberg Calls It Quits
      •  What Happens Next?
      •  Takeaways from Super Tuesday
      •  Who Voted for Whom?
      •  What Happens to Delegates When Candidates Drop Out?
      •  Other Key Races
      •  Bullock May Run for the Senate after All
      •  New York State Cancels Republican Primary

Biden Has More Delegates Now

It is now clear that Joe Biden won 10 states on Super Tuesday: Alabama, Arkansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) won 4 states: California, Colorado, Utah, and Vermont. No one else won a state (though Michael Bloomberg won a territory). But states aren't what matters. In the end, the primaries are about winning delegates, and it now appears that Joe Biden is leading in delegates. The most recent tally looks like this:

Candidate Delegates
Joe Biden 527
Bernie Sanders 475
Elizabeth Warren 48
Pete Buttigieg 26
Michael Bloomberg 24
Amy Klobuchar 7
Tulsi Gabbard 1

Please note that these totals are not final, as California and other states are still waiting for absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day to arrive and be counted. So, Biden has a modest lead in terms of delegates, but that could change when California's votes have all been counted. (V)

Bloomberg Calls It Quits

It was a bold experiment. Can a candidate with a zillion dollars and zero stage presence win a presidential nomination? It is well known that money can buy you a lot of things, like cars and iPhones, but it is also well known that money can't buy you love. Now we know it also can't buy you the presidential nomination of a major political party. Michael Bloomberg belatedly came to that discovery on Tuesday when the $570 million he had spent on his campaign netted him 24 delegates, or about $18 million per delegate won.

Normally, candidates drop out only when they run out of money. Bloomberg suspended his campaign yesterday even though he still has about $60 billion left. He was probably completely honest when he said he entered the race to make sure Donald Trump is defeated in November, and is leaving it now for the same reason. He feels that Joe Biden is the strongest candidate and doesn't want to hurt him, so he is endorsing Biden.

Charlie Warzel has a somewhat different take on Bloomberg's campaign. Bloomberg went from 3% in the national polls on the day he announced to 16% at the end. Bloomberg ultimately tanked because the product was no good. We don't know what would have happened with a more charismatic and attractive billionaire, say, MacKenzie Bezos, but Warzel thinks that a decent candidate who put half a billion dollars into the campaign might have had a real shot at it.

Bloomberg's departure doesn't mean he is done with presidential politics. He previously said he will continue to spend money at a record clip to defeat Trump even if he isn't the nominee. Now we know he won't be, and we will soon know if he keeps that promise. (V)

What Happens Next?

In the immortal words of Yogi Berra, it's déjà vu all over again. It's Bernie vs. Hillary again. Oops, it's Bernie vs. Joe, but it is kind of the same thing. Will it be a replay, with Sanders behind from now until July but refusing to concede? Will his young supporters (once again) say: "I'm not voting for the lesser of two evils" and vote for the Green Party candidate in November or not vote at all, thus propelling Donald Trump to another win? One difference with 2016, though, is that many of the young voters who voted for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson in 2016 thought Hillary Clinton was going to win and just wanted to send her a message. This time at least some of them might realize that Trump could really win, and that sending Biden a message might result in giving Trump a second term.

One thing that is near-certain is a repeat of 2016 is Sanders' dismal performance with black voters. In South Carolina, he got 17% of the black vote. In Virginia on Tuesday, he got 16%. If Biden sweeps the entire South in the primaries due to a high turnout of black voters, Sanders will have to make it up somewhere else. He is doing well with Latinos, so that is a possibility if they vote in large enough numbers. That said, the states with the two largest Latino populations (Texas and California) already cast their primary ballots, so there may not be enough Latinos left to counter Biden's Southern advantage.

One thing that is different from 2016 is that Sanders did especially well in red states that had caucuses. Unfortunately for him, most of them have switched to primaries this time. In a caucus state, turnout is always very low and a few thousand dedicated supporters can end up delivering their candidate most of the delegates. That won't happen this time, since the only state left that has an actual caucus is Wyoming, which has only 14 delegates. North Dakota has a "firehouse caucus," but that is just a primary run by the Democratic Party rather than by the state of North Dakota.

Let us throw caution to the winds and make a guess about what will happen next Tuesday. Six states will vote. We will assume the only candidates who get delegates are Biden and Sanders and their percentages will be the same as Clinton's and Sanders' in 2016, respectively. We will then divvy up the delegates in proportion to these percentages. Here is what the picture looks like:

State Clinton 2016 Sanders 2016 Delegates Biden Dels. Sanders Dels.
Idaho 21% 78% 20 4 16
Michigan 48% 50% 125 60 65
Mississippi 83% 17% 36 30 6
Missouri 50% 49% 68 34 34
North Dakota 26% 64% 14 4 10
Washington 27% 73% 89 24 65
Total     332 146 196

So our simple model predicts that Sanders will close the gap by 50 delegates next week. However, there are a couple of footnotes here. First, momentum counts. People like to vote for the winner, and right now Biden is moving up and Sanders is moving down. This could result in Biden overperforming Hillary Clinton's 2016 numbers.

Second, in 2016, Washington held a caucus, which Sanders overwhelmingly won. But it also held a nonbinding primary that didn't award any delegates. The caucus was attended by 26,299 people, of whom 19,159 voted for Sanders. The primary was a different story. There 802,754 people voted and Clinton won 52% of the vote. This year Washington has only a primary, so our model giving Sanders' 73% of the delegates may be a tad optimistic for him, and he might not be able to close the gap with Biden there.

The week after, on March 17, the hammer falls on Sanders. Then four big states that Clinton won will vote. Using the same model as above, we get this picture:

State Clinton 2016 Sanders 2016 Delegates Biden Dels. Sanders Dels.
Arizona 56% 41% 67 37 30
Florida 64% 33% 219 140 79
Illinois 51% 49% 155 79 76
Ohio 56% 43% 136 76 60
Total     577 332 245

If this model holds, Biden will pick up a net of 87 delegates on March 17. If we add up the two weeks and continue to assume the caucus results will hold in Washington, then Biden will net 37 delegates by March 18. From then on out, unless something unexpected happens, Biden will probably be able to maintain a small lead going forward, as there aren't a lot of populous states that Sanders won big in 2016 left.

This will put Sanders in a predicament. At the last debate, he said that the person who came into the convention with the most delegates should be the nominee (because he expected that would be himself). If Biden comes into the convention with a hundred or two hundred more delegates, how will Sanders weasel out of that without looking like a complete hypocrite? But as we have said so often, in politics a week is a long time. The campaign changed radically in the past week and could change equally radically in some future week. (V)

Takeaways from Super Tuesday

Yesterday we had our take on Super Tuesday. Now it is time to summarize what some major media outlets had to say:

  • Biden and Sanders have very different bases
  • Sanders' ceiling might be real
  • Young voters are not coming out in droves
  • This campaign has already changed a lot—could it change again?
  • Momentum still trumps money in presidential primaries
New York Times
  • Black voters power a resurgent Biden
  • Sanders retains strong support
  • Momentum, not organization or money, is what mattered
  • Warren and Bloomberg fade
  • The results exposed the Democrats' generational divide
Washington Post
  • Joe Biden is the new front runner
  • It's far from over
  • It's the end of the line for Bloomberg and Warren
  • This was about black voters, pure and simple
  • Sanders' youth surge didn't happen
  • Biden rode his wave of momentum from South Carolina
  • Biden is building a coalition of seniors, blacks, and suburbanites
  • Sanders' only big victory was in California
  • Bloomberg failed: the White House is not for sale
  • Warren had a very bad day
NBC News
  • It's the young vs. the old
  • There was no turnout boom for Sanders
  • Biden is back with a vengeance
  • Biden will sweep the primaries in the South
  • Bloomberg bet that Biden would collapse and lost his bet
Los Angeles Times
  • The establishment strikes back
  • Bernie is hitting bumps
  • Mike didn't get it done
  • Warren isn't giving up—yet
  • This will get uglier
The Hill
  • It was a huge night for Biden
  • Sanders could still close Biden's delegate lead
  • Bloomberg went bust
  • Warren has few good arguments to stay in the race
  • Black voters turned it around for Biden
  • Biden storms back
  • Sanders is unbowed
  • Bloomberg's checks bounce
  • Warren's plan for winning loses
  • The devil is in the delegate count
  • The voters got off the fence

The points that came up most often in these takeaways are these:

  • Biden bounced back from nowhere to become the front runner
  • Sanders is still in there fighting
  • Bloomberg demonstrated that the nomination is not for sale
  • Warren must go
  • Black voters had a huge impact on the results
  • The youth vote surge didn't happen

Was all of this predictable 2 days ago? Maybe, but we didn't predict it and we didn't see anyone else predict it either. Pre-Super Tuesday, the conventional wisdom was that Sanders would win big and glide effortlessly to the nomination. Now the conventional wisdom is that Biden and Sanders will slog it out, with the odds favoring Biden at this point. (V)

Who Voted for Whom?

There were exit polls across the Super Tuesday states, so we have an idea of which demographic groups supported which candidate and which did not. Here are the key results:

Candidate Most supportive 2nd Best 3rd Best 4th Best 5th Best
Biden Black voters Oppose M4A Hate socialism Seniors Top issue: race
Bloomberg Hate socialism Moderates Seniors Oppose M4A Ages 45-64
Sanders Ages 18-29 Very liberal Ages 30-44 Love socialism Support M4A
Warren Very liberal Ages 30-44 College grads Top issue: inequality Somewhat liberal

This is the first time we have actual data about who likes Michael Bloomberg. His biggest supporters were people who are not keen on socialism. Figures they would go for a billionaire. His next best group consisted of moderates and conservatives, followed by seniors, people who don't like Medicare for All, and people in the 45-64 age group. The profile of his supporters is not so different from Joe Biden's, except black folks aren't so happy with Mayor Stop and Frisk. For the others, these data agree with what we have seen before. Young voters love Bernie Sanders like no other, but seniors love Joe Biden. Voters who like socialism are in Sanders' camp. Liberals like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

Now let's look at the groups that gave the least support to the candidates:

Candidate Least supportive 2nd Least 3rd Least 4th Least 5th Least
Biden Ages 18-29 Very liberal Ages 30-44 Love socialism Issues candidates
Bloomberg Ages 18-29 Very liberal Ages 30-44 Loves socialism Support M4A
Sanders Oppose M4A Hate socialism Seniors Moderates Black voters
Warren Black voters Moderates Hate socialism No college Latinos

Again, let's start with Bloomberg. Only 4% of voters 18 to 29 voted for him, only 5% of liberals, and only 8% of voters 30-44. Not surprisingly, he wasn't popular with socialists. Nevertheless, he got 8% of the vote from people who like socialism. This goes to show that sometimes other factors play a role that might not be obvious. We don't know what these voters liked about Bloomberg, but perhaps they hate Donald Trump with a white-hot passion and thought Bloomberg could use his fortune to bludgeon Trump like no other, and that would be worth it. Bloomberg also didn't do well (9%) with people who want Medicare for All. Again here, the people who don't like him also don't like Biden. As to the others, Sanders is still having trouble with seniors, moderates, and black voters, groups that have high turnout most of the time. All things considered, for a politician it is better to be popular with voters who have a great turnout record, and Sanders is very unpopular with these voters. What also stands out here is that Warren is very much the candidate of educated white voters. Black folks, Latinos, and people without a college degree have no use for her. (V)

What Happens to Delegates When Candidates Drop Out?

Short answer: It's very complicated. First, remember that the caucuses and primaries allocate slots to candidates. For example, Michael Bloomberg won 8 delegate slots in Colorado. The selection of those 8 people is a separate process from the voting on Tuesday. When they are chosen, the Bloomberg delegates have to pledge to vote for Bloomberg. A pledge is simply a promise. If a delegate were to vote for someone else at the convention, it is not like the Excel Fairy will swoop down and nullify that vote. The vote, for whomever it may be, still counts. Whether presidential electors can also vote for anyone they want to is currently before the Supreme Court, but no such case is in progress about Democratic convention delegates (Republicans have stricter rules).

When a candidate suspends his or her campaign, as Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, and others have done, they are still technically candidates, and the delegate selection process continues unimpeded. However, when delegates are chosen, they become free agents and can vote for anyone they choose at the convention, although commonly they will follow the advice of their candidate.

However, if a candidate ends the campaign, then the slots are reallocated proportionally, as if the candidate had not reached 15%. As a consequence of these rules, candidates typically suspend rather than terminate their campaigns when it becomes hopeless because then the people they selected as delegates will go to the convention and most likely do what the candidate wants. (V)

Other Key Races

One race that has attracted a lot of attention is the Republican senatorial primary in Alabama. Former senator and former AG Jeff Sessions is trying to get back his old seat. He got 31.6% of the vote to the 33.4% of former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL) was third and child molester Roy Moore came in a distant fourth. Sessions and Tuberville will face off at a runoff on March 31. The winner of that race will go on to defeat Sen. Doug. Jones (D-AL) by a large margin in November. Jones' only chance was that Moore would win the nomination, and that didn't happen, so he is toast. Despite Sessions coming in first, Donald Trump couldn't resist taking a potshot at his former AG:

The real test for Trump will come if Sessions wins the runoff. Will Trump eat crow and back Sessions, or is his hatred for Sessions so strong that he will back the zombie candidacy of Jones? The smart money is betting that he will eat crow (tastes like chicken!).

Another important Senate race is the Democratic nomination in North Carolina. The establishment was pushing hard for former state legislator Cal Cunningham who was facing a progressive candidate, state senator Erica Smith. Cunningham crushed her 56% to 36%, and will face Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) in November. That is expected to be an extremely tight, nasty, and expensive race.

Former representative Katie Hill resigned from Congress after a sex scandal, forcing a special election in CA-25. The primary was on Tuesday. Christy Smith (D), an assemblywoman, and Mike Garcia (R) are headed for the special election. Cenk Uygur, the creator of the progressive news program "The Young Turks," came in a distant fourth. California uses a top-two primary system in which the top two finishers go at it head-to-head in the general election, regardless of party affiliation. In this case, there will be a Democrat vs. a Republican. The district is EVEN (D+0), so it could be a bellwether. The election is May 12, and the winner will finish Hill's term. The good news for whoever loses that election is that they will get a rematch on Nov. 3, since Smith and Garcia also won the primary elections for that seat.

Another interesting race concerns the Bush dynasty. George H.W. Bush's grandson, Pierce Bush (34), figured it was time to enter politics and take advantage of the magical Bush name in Texas. Texans think big, so rather than run for city council or the state senate, he ran for Congress, in TX-22, even though he had never run for elected office before. He didn't even make the runoff in the Houston area district, even though it is R+10. He lost to two candidates who tied themselves more closely to Donald Trump than he did. Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls and consultant Kathaleen Wall will face off in May for the Republican nomination. The only Bush currently in public office is George P. Bush, another grandson of H.W. He is Texas' land commissioner. Although Texas has a lot of public land and Bush is in charge of it, it is not all that important an office, and George P. is expected to shoot higher next time. But at least he has some experience running for (statewide) office before doing so.

Yet another closely watched election was the Republican primary in TX-12, currently occupied by Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), who is the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee. The Club for Growth spent $1 million trying to defeat her, but it didn't work. She survived. The district is R+18, so she is a shoo-in for another term. Similarly, Rep. Henry Cuellar survived a serious challenge from the left, and will now go on to be reelected in his D+9 district. (V)

Bullock May Run for the Senate after All

The New York Times is reporting that Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT) has changed his mind and will run for the Senate, despite months of saying he would not do so. If he does, it suddenly puts a solid Republican seat into the toss-up category. Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has been trying for months to recruit Bullock, a popular two-term term-limited governor. If he indeed runs, it significantly increases the chances that the Democrats can take over the upper chamber. (V)

New York State Cancels Republican Primary

New York State will not bother to hold a Republican presidential primary this year. Actually, the decision was not dictated by partisan politics, but simply by state law. Only four Republicans submitted the paperwork. Donald Trump's was all in order, so he will appear on the ballot. Joe Walsh and Rocky De La Fuente didn't bother to include any delegate names, which means they were automatically booted, since a filing has to include the names of their delegates. That left former Massachusetts governor William Weld as the only one left, and his list was half empty. So in the end, Trump's filing was the only one that complied with state law. In New York, primaries are held only when there are two or more candidates that have met the filing requirements. Since that is not the case in New York, Trump will get all the delegates without having to campaign much in the state he formerly lived in. (V)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
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