Roughly One-Third Democrat Delegates Up For Grabs on Super Tuesday

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - FEBRUARY 26: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) arrives for a campaign rally at the Charleston Area Convention Center on February 26, 2020 in North Charleston, South Carolina. South Carolina holds its Democratic presidential primary on Saturday, February 29. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Democrat presidential hopefuls have one more hurdle to overcome, Saturday’s primary in South Carolina, before Super Tuesday, when 14 states will vote and dole out roughly one-third of the party’s pledged delegates.

Super Tuesday, taking place March 3, will be a pivotal day for the Democrat presidential hopefuls. Some, like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), hope to build on existing momentum, while others, such as Joe Biden (D) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), hope for a strong turnout that will breathe new life into their dwindling campaigns.

Fourteen states will vote on Tuesday, including:

  1. Alabama
  2. Arkansas
  3. California
  4. Colorado
  5. Maine
  6. Massachusetts
  7. Minnesota
  8. North Carolina
  9. Oklahoma
  10. Tennessee
  11. Texas
  12. Utah
  13. Vermont
  14. Virginia

All eyes are on the massive, one-day delegate haul available. About one-third of the party’s pledged delegates, precisely 1,357, are up for grabs on Super Tuesday. A candidate must garner a majority of the party’s pledged delegates, 3,979, prior to the convention in order to seal the nomination on the first ballot. In other words, a candidate must garner 1,991 delegates. Anything less is not considered a majority and would effectively result in a brokered convention.

Sanders is the only Democrat presidential candidate who has explicitly stated that the nominee with the most delegates going into the convention, regardless if it is a majority, should be the nominee. When asked during last week’s debate in Las Vegas, Nevada, if the candidate with the most delegates at the end of this primary season be the nominee — even if he or she is short of a majority — no other candidate, minus Sanders, would say yes.

Bloomberg, who is banking on a big Super Tuesday sweep, said the rules of the Democrat Party “should be followed” — a sentiment clearly agreed upon by Biden, Warren, Pete Buttigieg (D), and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN):

“But a convention working its will means that people have the delegates that are pledged to them and they keep those delegates until you come to the convention,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) declared.

“Play by the rules,” Joe Biden (D) said, adding, “Let the process work its way out.”

Pete Buttigieg (D) said the leading candidate should not get the nomination “until there’s a majority,” and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) followed her competitors in the call to “let the process work.”

Nonetheless, the future of some of the campaigns hangs in the balance of the Super Tuesday results. However, recent polls show Sanders, who is already leading the Democrat field nationally, performing the best in Super Tuesday states — particularly states with the biggest delegate totals, like California and Texas.

Wednesday’s RealClearPolitics average shows Sanders with a double-digit lead in California, with 27.3 percent to Biden’s 13.8 percent. He is also edging out Biden in the Lone Star State by just over two percentage points.

Bloomberg, who has spent over $124 million on ads in Super Tuesday states alone, is counting on a big showing, given his calculated decision to virtually ignore the races in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina.

A Morning Consult poll released last week showed the former New York City mayor trailing Sanders in Super Tuesday states by eight percentage points:

Meanwhile, Sanders is angling to put a dent in Warren’s showing in her home state, holding a rally in Springfield, Massachusetts, just days ahead of the Bay State’s March 3 primary.

While candidates have to get through Saturday’s primary in the Palmetto State, where Sanders is hoping to tear down Biden’s firewall, the current Super Tuesday preview appears to be favoring the socialist senator.

FiveThirtyEight is forecasting big wins for Sanders across the board and noting that it could be “a long night for Warren and Klobuchar.”

“If they don’t win their home states, they are unlikely to carry any others either,” FiveThirtyEight predicts. “And things are even worse for former South Bend, Mayor, Pete Buttigieg, whose best chance at winning any state is his 1 in 12 chance in Arkansas.”

Notably, it is possible for the losing candidates — those who come in second or third place — to garner delegates due to the allocation based on the proportion of the final vote.

“It should be a good night for Sanders delegate-wise just as it should be in terms of votes; we’re forecasting him to take home 587 delegates,” FiveThirtyEight predicts.

With Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada under the candidates’ belts, Sanders currently leads in delegate totals. He has 45, followed by Buttigieg with 25, Biden with 15, Warren with eight, and Klobuchar with seven.

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