Super Tuesday won’t decide the Democratic nomination but could give Bernie Sanders a delegate haul big enough to grab a commanding hold on the race — with a newly rejuvenated Joe Biden nipping at his heels.
The big question heading into Tuesday’s contests in 14 states is whether Biden, fresh off his impressive win in South Carolina and now with Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg endorsements, can win over enough last-minute voters to block Bernie from a Super Tuesday rout.
The Vermont socialist should win the biggest prize — California — and that could give him hundreds of delegates to make him the clear front-runner heading into the next round of contests next week.
But the Democratic establishment is quickly coming together behind Biden in a last-ditch bid to keep Sanders from winning other competitive states from Texas to Massachusetts.
The pressure is clearly getting to Bernie, because he’s already referring to himself in the third person.
“There is a massive effort trying to stop Bernie Sanders,” Sanders said in Utah. “The corporate establishment is coming together, the political establishment is coming together, and they will do everything. They are really getting nervous.”
Here are the other major questions that should be answered after the polls close on Tuesday:
* Will Elizabeth Warren get out of the race and throw her support to Sanders? Warren is trying to stave off a humiliating defeat in her home state of Massachusetts but even if she wins here she has no path to the nomination. Her campaign’s days are numbered. Her exit would make Sanders the last lefty in the race, with a clear shot at that critical voting bloc. Warren’s lasting legacy will be her disemboweling of Mike Bloomberg on the debate stage.
* Did Biden’s South Carolina victory come too late to give him the springboard he needs to compete with Sanders? The latest polls show him trailing in the big Super Tuesday states, and several million voters — especially in Texas and California — have cast early ballots already, while Biden didn’t have enough money for a major ad campaign.
* How quickly will Bloomberg self-destruct? The former New York mayor’s inept debate performances left a lasting impression on voters, making it difficult to land a big enough delegate haul to realistically compete with Sanders. The more likely scenario is that after Super Tuesday, Bloomberg gets out and throws his support to Biden.
* Will enough African Americans vote to give Biden victories in southern states like North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas and Alabama? He won six in 10 black voters in South Carolina and needs to repeat that Tuesday. It could also bode well for Biden in other states with large African American populations that vote after Super Tuesday.
* Can Bernie take the heat or will he suffer a meltdown? If he underperforms on Super Tuesday, look for Sanders and his supporters to go wild, complaining that the voting was rigged against them. That could lead to a repeat of 2016, when the Bernie-Hillary Clinton fissure hurt the party’s efforts to unify behind Clinton.
* Will Biden and Bloomberg win enough votes in California to at least get a share of the state’s 415 delegates? A candidate needs to get at least 15% of the vote to win delegates. Bernie will get most of them — the question is can he win all of them?
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