Democratic candidates gear up for a dramatic Super Tuesday
Voters in 14 states and one U.S. territory will head to the polls Tuesday to choose between the remaining Democratic presidential candidates.
Primaries and caucuses held on Super Tuesday will decide the distribution of 1,357 pledged delegates and include the delegate-rich states of California and Texas. The states voting span the length of the country, and each contains different demographics providing advantages and challenges for the candidates as they make the case they are the best person to face President Trump in November.
Tuesday will mark billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s debut on ballots, potentially cutting into voters that might have otherwise leaned toward different moderate candidates. Bloomberg has spent hundreds of millions on ad buys across Super Tuesday states as part of his self-funded campaign.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is looking to extend his delegate lead and prove his electability, while former Vice President Joe Biden hopes to build on the momentum he got from a decisive win in South Carolina. And the news Sunday evening that former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg is ending his presidential bid raises questions about which moderate candidate will win over his supporters.
Here’s a preview of the 15 races:
Five candidates visited Alabama Sunday to commemorate the 55th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” when civil rights marchers were beaten by police while crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.
Biden, Bloomberg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) participated in the annual remembrance of the march. Buttigieg later announced he would be suspending his campaign.
Biden is the only candidate in the field with endorsements from members of the Alabama congressional delegation, earning the backing of Sen. Doug Jones (D) and Rep. Terri Sewell (D).
But with little polling in the state so far, it’s hard to tell which of those candidates holds the advantage and will get a piece of the 52 delegates Alabama awards Tuesday.
The U.S. territory of American Samoa lacks sufficient polling to indicate how Democrats are faring heading into Tuesday’s caucuses.
The territory has six pledged delegates to allocate.
Bloomberg is far outspending his opponents in Arkansas, which could give the former New York City mayor a boost in a state that awards 31 pledged delegates.
In the sole poll conducted in Arkansas, the Talk Business and Politics-Hendrix College poll released last week, Bloomberg held a slight lead with a 1-point edge over Biden. Buttigieg and Sanders closely trailed the top two candidates in the survey.
Biden, however, has a fighting chance of winning the state. His campaign boasted an endorsement Sunday by former Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D), and Biden’s wife, Jill Biden, spoke at an event in Little Rock that same day.
Sanders has a wide lead in polls of the Golden State, setting him up for a victory in the state with the most delegates at play. California has 415 pledged delegates to award.
Sanders flew out to California for a Sunday rally in San Jose ahead of the Tuesday primary as his rivals attended the anniversary of the civil rights march in Selma.
Biden is planning to spend some time Tuesday in California, but the campaign has yet to release information on where he’ll appear.
A Los Angeles Times-Berkley IGS poll released last week found Sanders with 34 percent support, followed in a distant second by fellow progressive Warren at 17 percent.
A RealClearPolitics (RCP) average of California polls similarly shows Sanders with a 17 point lead over Warren. Biden falls to third at 13 percent in the RCP average of the state. The former vice president has, however, been endorsed by California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D). California’s other Democratic senator, Kamala Harris, has yet to endorse a candidate since ending her own presidential campaign.
Bloomberg is by far the largest spender in Colorado ahead of Tuesday, pouring more than $5 million into the Denver market and an additional $1 million in the Colorado Springs-Pueblo market in TV ads, Colorado Public Radio reported.
Sanders is the next biggest spender in the state at just under half a million, followed by Warren at just more than $210,000.
Sanders won the Colorado caucuses in 2016, when he faced former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but on Tuesday the battle for Colorado’s 67 pledged delegates could be a tougher challenge for Sanders as he faces six opponents.
Sanders won the race in his home state’s neighbor in 2016 with a significant lead over Clinton.
He’s also earned the most donations from Maine residents this election cycle, beating out not only his primary opponents but also Trump in terms of donations received from Mainers, according to Central Maine, which cited Federal Election Commission filings. Sanders received $321,017 in donations from Maine residents, and Trump received $275,294.
Maine lacks significant polling to indicate if voters will again turn out support for the progressive senator.
Warren is trying to fend off a strong challenge from Sanders to win in her home state Tuesday. More than 10,000 people reportedly attended a Sanders rally in Boston on Saturday.
A Suffolk University–WBZ–Boston Globe poll released Sunday found Warren and Sanders in a statistical tie, with Sanders holding a narrow 2-point lead over Warren within the poll’s 4.4 percentage point margin of error.
Warren has endorsements from six Democratic members of her home state’s congressional delegation: Sen. Ed Markey, Rep. James McGovern, Rep. Lori Trahan, Rep. Joe Kennedy III, Rep. Katherine Clark and rising Democratic star Rep. Ayanna Pressley.
Warren will spend Tuesday morning in Massachusetts, where she will cast a vote in person, before traveling to Detroit.
Clinton narrowly defeated Sanders in the 2016 primary in Massachusetts.
Klobuchar’s strongest chance of winning a state Tuesday is in Minnesota, but her home-state advantage may not be enough to fend off Sanders, who is rising in polls of the Midwest state.
A Minnesota Public Radio–Star Tribune Minnesota poll released last week found Klobuchar with a lead in her state at 29 percent and Sanders with 23 percent. Warren, at 11 percent, is the only other candidate to register in double-digit support.
Klobuchar is also backed by a handful of Democratic leaders in her state, including Gov. Tim Walz, Sen. Tina Smith and Reps. Angie Craig, Dean Phillips, Betty McCollum and Collin Peterson.
Sanders, who won the 2016 Minnesota caucuses, has been endorsed by rising Democratic star Rep. Ilhan Omar.
Sanders is looking to drum up support in the state with a rally in Minnesota Monday night featuring Omar, as well as a concert by Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats.
North Carolina is setting up to be a tight race, with an NBC News–Marist poll released Sunday showing Sanders with a slim 2-point lead over Biden. Bloomberg trailed in third, followed closely by Warren.
A separate Meredith College poll released last week showed an even tighter three-way race, with Sanders leading the field at 19.5 percent support and Biden in second at 17.9 percent, with Bloomberg on his heels at 17 percent.
Biden said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” he expects his campaign to win in North Carolina, adding that the eventual nominee needs to be able to win tough states like North Carolina, which he suggested Sanders wouldn’t be able to do.
House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), whom Biden credited for helping his campaign to victory in South Carolina, campaigned for Biden at an event in North Carolina on Sunday.
Sanders won the Oklahoma primary in 2016 against Clinton, but he could face a tougher challenge Tuesday as Bloomberg has poured his own wealth into ad buys across the state.
A poll of Oklahoma voters released last week found a tight three-way race at the top with Biden leading at 21.2 percent support, followed by Bloomberg at 19.8 percent and Sanders at 19.3 percent.
But the race is still very much up in the air, with pollster Bill Shappard telling News on 6, the Tulsa-based station that reported the survey results, that voters “have changed their mind a lot, and they’re going to change them again.”
The poll found almost 43 percent of respondents said they either will or might change their mind before casting a vote.
Biden’s win in the first Southern state to hold a primary, Saturday’s South Carolina contest, could indicate his strength heading into Tennessee on Tuesday. But little polling has been done to suggest which candidate may win over the Volunteer State, with 64 pledged delegates up for grabs.
Sanders lost to Clinton in Tennessee in 2016 by a wide margin.
Sanders has a nearly 9-point lead in Texas, according to a RealClearPolitics average of polls of the Lone Star State. The Vermont senator averages 29.7 percent support, trailed by Biden at 20.8 percent and Bloomberg at 18 percent, based on RCP’s average.
Sanders’s lead over Biden and Bloomberg widens among Latino voters in Texas, according to a Univision poll released last week.
Texas is the second-largest Super Tuesday state, with 228 delegates at play.
Biden has the most endorsements from Democratic members of Texas’s congressional delegation, backed by Reps. Filemon Vela, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Marc Veasey, Vicente Gonzalez, Colin Allred and Sylvia Garcia.
The former vice president spent Monday in Texas, hitting Houston and Dallas, ahead of the primary.
Warren earned the high-profile backing of former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, who is a former mayor of San Antonio, after he dropped out of the presidential race, as well as his twin brother Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas). But the progressive senator is trailing in polls, coming in fourth at 12.7 percent based on RCP’s Texas average.
Sanders holds a lead in Utah, according to a recent poll of likely voters.
Sanders has a 9-point lead over his opponents, according to a Deseret News–Hinckley Institute of Politics poll released last week. Sanders registered at 28 percent support, followed by 19 percent for Bloomberg, 18 percent of Buttigieg and 15 percent for Warren, based on the poll.
Rep. Ben McAdams (D-Utah) endorsed Bloomberg’s candidacy.
Sanders won the Utah caucuses by a wide margin over Clinton in 2016.
Sanders will almost certainly win his home state, where he’ll hold a rally as results from the Tuesday primary roll in.
Sanders has a 38-point lead over his opponents, with 51 percent support, based on a February Vermont Public Radio poll.
Sanders is endorsed by Vermont’s Sen. Patrick Leahy (D) and Rep. Peter Welch (D).
Sanders won the 2016 primary there with more than 86 percent.
Sanders has a lead in Virginia, according to the RCP average of polls, but the race is tightening with Biden and Bloomberg closely trailing.
Sanders has 25 percent support, based on RCP’s average. Bloomberg trails in second at 19.5 percent and Biden in a close third at 18.5 percent.
Biden could be boosted in Tuesday’s race after Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) announced his endorsement of the former vice president, followed by announcements from former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Rep. Jennifer Wexton, who had previously said she would be neutral in the primary race.
Sanders and Bloomberg held Virginia events in the days leading up to the primary, making the case for their vastly different agendas and campaign strategies.
Virginia’s open primary, in which any registered voter can participate, also offers more moderate candidates a chance to pick up votes from independents and Republicans, who can cast a ballot in the Democratic primary Tuesday.
Sanders lost the 2016 primary in Virginia to Clinton.