IMMEDIATE RELEASE 23 January 2020
Today’s Events in Historical Perspective
America’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932
The most Super Tuesday ever
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift
WASHINGTON –Super Tuesday began as a Southern regional primary designed by the Democratic Party to allow more moderate candidates to emerge who could win the White House. In 1988, then Tennessee Senator Al Gore was the favorite going into that string of contests, but it was the Rev. Jesse Jackson from the party’s left who emerged with more wins and delegates than Gore on that day.
This season’s March 3 Super Tuesday will bring some surprises too. Along with awarding the largest share of delegates on a single day ever, it will take us closer to deciding who the ultimate victor will be in the Democratic primary campaign.
In the most super of Super Tuesdays, 14 states will be voting, including California, Texas, Virginia, North Carolina and Massachusetts. It’s the most geographically and demographically diverse single primary election ever.
It could play out in several scenarios depending on the results in the first four primary contests – Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. The latest polls show the top four contenders closely bunched in Iowa with Bernie Sanders well ahead in New Hampshire, which neighbors his home state of Vermont, and which he won in 2016.
With three of the candidates – Senators Sanders, Warren, and Klobucher – benched in Washington for the Senate impeachment trial, Vice President Biden and Mayor Pete Buttigieg have Iowa to themselves. The caucuses are February 3rd and should Biden win Iowa and place second to Sanders in New Hampshire, he would be well on his way to the nomination.
But that kind of a clean sweep by Biden is unlikely, and if Sanders should win the first two contests, there would be a vigorous campaign mounted to stop him. Former Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said on MSNBC that Sanders would be “the worst” candidate to put up against President Trump, an assessment supporters of the Vermont senator would no doubt vigorously oppose. However, Democrats in poll after poll have said electability is foremost in their minds, and Sanders, a registered Socialist, hardly meets that criteria.
None of the other candidates in the field appear to have the momentum that would make them a frontrunner by Super Tuesday, and if Elizabeth Warren doesn’t score high in Iowa and New Hampshire, she could see her campaign end.
That leaves the more likely scenario that the field going into Super Tuesday will be splintered with, say, Buttigieg or Warren winning Iowa, Sanders winning New Hampshire, and Biden winning South Carolina, where he has the so far unshakable support of the black community.
This all leads to something unusual: Super Tuesday becomes an early convention – even a brokered convention – a demonstration of the popular vote, the closest thing we have to a national primary. And on the ballot will be New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is not competing in any of the early contests, but who has been advertising nonstop in the Super Tuesday states.
Money is no object for Bloomberg, and he is spending enough to move his name up in the national polls while Biden and Buttigieg slog their way through Iowa and New Hampshire. Bloomberg makes the point in his advertising that the presidency will be won or lost in those Super Tuesday battleground states, and that’s where he’s spending his money.
Voters in those states don’t get to meet the candidates the way people do who live in Iowa and New Hampshire, so voting for a candidate only based upon ads won’t seem odd. That is Bloomberg’s path to victory, and it’s not farfetched.
So, here we are. No one has broken away and no one probably will before Super Tuesday. The day could turn into free-for-all drama decided by last-minute deals (offering the vice-presidential nomination?), last desperate ads (promises, promises?), or an unexpected public stampede (the Big Mo: momentum). Then again, these are apportioned rather than winner-take-all primaries, and Super Tuesday could simply scramble the race and lead to a true brokered convention in July.
Douglas Cohn’s latest books are World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers) and The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency.
© 2020 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
END WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND
IMMEDIATE RELEASE 23 January 2020