Wanna beat Sanders? Hope he wins South Carolina

If you are former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, or former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegButtigieg launches new PAC to aid down-ballot candidates HuffPost political reporter on why Bernie fell way behind Biden Economists fear slow pace of testing will prolong recession MORE, or Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Klobuchar Klobuchar's husband recounts battle with coronavirus: 'It just suddenly hit me' Hillicon Valley: Schiff presses intel chief on staff changes | Warren offers plan to secure elections | Twitter's Jack Dorsey to donate B to coronavirus fight | WhatsApp takes steps to counter virus misinformation Wisconsinites put lives on the line after SCOTUS decision MORE (D-Minn), you should be quietly rooting for a one-time-never-to-be-repeated-again event: a Bernie SandersBernie SandersDrugmaker caps insulin costs at to help diabetes patients during pandemic The Hill's Campaign Report: Wisconsin votes despite coronavirus pandemic Sen. Brown endorses Biden for president MORE win in South Carolina Saturday. It is arguably, and soon mathematically, their only chance to win elsewhere.

Prevail here, and Sen. Sanders (I-Vt.) will turn former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump shakes up WH communications team The Hill's Campaign Report: Wisconsin votes despite coronavirus pandemic The Intercept's Ryan Grim says Cuomo is winning over critics MORE’s political “firewall” into a five-alarm conflagration incinerating any prospect he has left to win. Lose in South Carolina, and this very likable but always gaffe-able public servant will be left with little money, even less credibility and the clear message that voters tired of his message that a return to yesterday is somehow a bold move into tomorrow.

Fail here, and Biden will be remembered as one of the all-time losers for the nation’s top job.

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It’s sad to see, really, for one who’s given his all to others, and whose modest wealth didn’t come from public service but from a book he wrote about the son he loved.

Conversely, if Biden wins, all bets are off. He’s the “comeback kid,” the underdog who wouldn’t quit, effectively throwing a wrench in the plans of every other Democrat in the middle who’d find themselves muddling down the road to nearly certain elimination.

Yet win or lose, it’s complicated.

A resurgent Biden means Bloomberg would have to pivot, and quickly. To soldier forward, Bloomberg would then have to train his sights on Biden as well as Bernie as the field heads into 14 Super Tuesday contests, and the 10 states that follow before the end of March.

It also raises the chatter, if not the likelihood, that one of the fading muddlers will likely send smoke signals to Biden and/or Bloomberg that they want to talk, that together they could collapse the center into a “unity” ticket. Of course, while rational, this remains highly unlikely given there’s little primary calendar left to successfully navigate such a move and that the normal inclination of politicians is to put selfish advance before selfless retreat.

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However, a defeated Biden, one who loses his fourth state out of four, one he (and everyone else) once took for granted, opens up the floodgates to his fellow moderates who will feign support while hiding their glee. Yes, the Biden name would remain on the ballot in the Super Tuesday states and beyond, but his once full flock of fans would likely scatter to the political winds looking for a new guardian angel.

This is especially true for African-Americans, where there’s already a “race within the race” to be anointed as the second choice to Biden, to become the heir apparent to a fallen champion. What makes this fascinating is that no remaining contender has a natural claim to African-Americans’ support, which means their vote will likely be more dispersed than monolithic.

So, get ready for more than dinner and drinks this Saturday, but rather a full menu of new possibilities from the good people of South Carolina.

A Biden defeat would mean the competitive field is whittled to five — including the indefatigable Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenHillicon Valley: Schiff presses intel chief on staff changes | Warren offers plan to secure elections | Twitter's Jack Dorsey to donate B to coronavirus fight | WhatsApp takes steps to counter virus misinformation Warren releases plan to secure elections during coronavirus pandemic On The Money: Trump officials struggle to get relief loans out the door | Dow soars more than 1600 points | Kudlow says officials 'looking at' offering coronavirus bonds MORE (D-Mass.). Overnight, you won’t need a slide rule to calculate the odds of stopping a surging Bernie Sanders. They’re better.

If not, Democrats will feel the Bern.

Like it or not.

Adam Goodman is an award-winning national Republican media strategist who has advised Rudy GiulianiJohn McCain and Jeb Bush. He is the first Edward R. Murrow Senior Fellow at Tufts University's Fletcher School. Follow him on Twitter @adamgoodman3