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5 key questions ahead of critical Super Tuesday primaries

Bernie Sanders (left) and Joe Biden - AP images

Fourteen states vote in primaries from the Atlantic to the Pacific, including the two most populous states, California and Texas.

Posted: Mar 2, 2020 11:38 AM
Updated: Mar 2, 2020 1:23 PM

DENVER (AP) — Tuesday is the biggest day of the primary calendar, when 14 states from the Atlantic to the Pacific vote on the Democratic presidential nominee. The roster includes the nation's two most populous states, California and Texas, and nearly one-third of all the delegates at July's Democratic National Convention are up for grabs.

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Here are some key questions ahead of Super Tuesday:

CAN SANDERS RECAPTURE THE NARRATIVE?

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has long promised that he could substantially expand the electorate beyond traditional Democratic voters, but that hasn't happened in the first four contests.

Super Tuesday represents his biggest chance to prove his case. He is far better financed and organized than former Vice President Joe Biden, who trounced Sanders in South Carolina on Saturday.

With five major candidates running, it's been impossible for anyone to claim a clear majority, but Sanders' durable base has given him a crucial plurality of the vote, and, more important, a small lead in delegates.

Sanders needs as many delegates as possible because his opponents argue the convention itself should decide the nominee should no one secure a clear majority. Sanders argues that the candidate with the most votes should get the nomination — an easier case to make if he comes into the Democratic National Convention with a large plurality.

Tuesday represents Sanders' best shot at building a durable advantage in the race. Because the Democratic Party awards delegates proportionately, once someone racks up an advantage in the delegate count, it's difficult to catch them. And after Tuesday, the terrain shifts to states that aren't as favorable to Sanders.

CAN BIDEN EMERGE AS THE “STOP SANDERS” CANDIDATE?

Biden dramatically under performed in Iowa and New Hampshire, part of a collapse among white voters that allowed Sanders to vault into the lead. But Biden regained his footing in South Carolina, propelled by the overwhelming support of black voters. That aided Biden's case that the candidate who prevails among these base voters will win the nomination.

Biden's campaign hopes that allows him to vastly over perform his polls for Super Tuesday and consolidate the splintered anti-Sanders factions in the Democratic Party.

The hope in the former vice president's camp is that it becomes effectively a two-person race after Tuesday, which may give him an advantage in upcoming states like Florida, Illinois and Pennsylvania.

WHICH CANDIDATES CAN STAY VIABLE?

Remember 15%. That's the share of votes a candidate has to get to win delegates in primary elections. With five Democrats left in the race, there's a real threat that only one or two will actually grab delegates, with the rest splitting the remaining vote in the low teens.

The risks of that diminished with the exit of Pete Buttigieg from the race Sunday night and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar on Monday, but they certainly didn't go away. That would be a dream scenario for Sanders, who in some states could grab a far greater proportion of available delegates than his vote share would represent. Some polls have shown it as a distinct possibility in delegate-rich California.

DOES BLOOMBERG'S BIG BET PAY OFF?

Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg bet more than a half billion dollars on Super Tuesday, and we get to see if it was well spent.

Bloomberg is a billionaire, and rather than competing in the first four primary states, he decided to spend a huge sum of money on advertisements and campaign organizations in the 14 states voting Tuesday, as well as on other ones voting in the coming weeks.

But since he first appeared on the debate stage, his polls plummeted and now he runs the risk of falling into the sub-15% zone in a number of states.

Even if he doesn't, will Bloomberg's ultimate impact be to fragment the anti-Sanders vote further and help pave the way for the self-proclaimed democratic socialist whom he says he got in the race to stop?

HOW DOES THE CALIFORNIA COUNT EFFECT THE RACE?

California is different. It's the biggest prize on the board Tuesday with more than 400 delegates at stake. But California has an unusual voting system that counts all ballots cast Tuesday, even if they were only put in a mailbox that day. It can take weeks to tally the entire vote.

That could help or hurt Sanders. His campaign has been investing heavily in the state, trying to encourage his supporters to send in early ballots. It may be that the early ballots heavily favor him, and we discover only in the coming weeks that California voters didn't break so overwhelmingly for the Vermont senator.

But Sanders' base includes young and Latino voters are more likely to vote at the last minute, so the opposite could happen — his people may still turn in their ballots at the last minute, and the initial returns could look grimmer for him than the final results. There's a good chance we won't know the final delegate disposition out of the state until April. How will that uncertainty affect the race in the weeks after Super Tuesday?

 

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 289303

Reported Deaths: 3434
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin616511100
Ramsey25903487
Anoka20522218
Dakota20096183
Washington13066109
Stearns1291098
St. Louis7935101
Scott782754
Wright702436
Olmsted626134
Sherburne538640
Clay463856
Carver432213
Blue Earth387112
Rice386033
Kandiyohi373819
Crow Wing334631
Nobles298729
Chisago29358
Otter Tail282818
Benton278642
Winona258128
Mower241323
Douglas237631
Polk234423
Morrison219524
Lyon201911
McLeod195610
Beltrami194615
Becker187512
Goodhue185727
Steele17826
Itasca176124
Isanti174316
Todd171612
Carlton165710
Nicollet150823
Freeborn14465
Mille Lacs141630
Le Sueur138110
Waseca134011
Cass12849
Brown125011
Pine12458
Meeker11308
Roseau10503
Hubbard103822
Martin101920
Wabasha9611
Redwood83718
Dodge8060
Chippewa8057
Watonwan7984
Cottonwood7682
Renville75119
Sibley7414
Wadena7376
Aitkin69826
Rock6829
Pipestone67818
Houston6422
Fillmore6320
Yellow Medicine59311
Pennington5856
Kanabec54912
Murray5493
Swift5366
Faribault5081
Pope4990
Stevens4643
Clearwater4536
Marshall4438
Jackson4361
Unassigned38759
Lake3816
Koochiching3535
Wilkin3465
Lac qui Parle3383
Norman3227
Lincoln3171
Big Stone2841
Mahnomen2704
Grant2516
Red Lake2033
Kittson1917
Traverse1360
Lake of the Woods931
Cook600

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 222064

Reported Deaths: 2319
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk33019331
Linn13877164
Scott1085683
Black Hawk10730134
Woodbury10159121
Johnson935536
Dubuque907691
Story669721
Dallas624657
Pottawattamie612469
Sioux364625
Webster353033
Marshall343545
Cerro Gordo342644
Clinton319839
Buena Vista300014
Des Moines281719
Muscatine280968
Warren274011
Plymouth268941
Wapello251171
Jones227913
Jasper212443
Marion201719
Lee197916
Carroll195422
Bremer191312
Henry18037
Crawford173015
Benton166217
Tama152240
Jackson142113
Delaware140221
Washington137414
Dickinson134210
Boone134011
Mahaska125327
Wright12156
Buchanan115010
Clay11314
Hardin113010
Page11134
Hamilton10809
Clayton10715
Harrison106129
Cedar104913
Calhoun10487
Kossuth10236
Floyd102216
Mills10177
Fayette10159
Lyon10058
Poweshiek97913
Butler9746
Winneshiek95412
Iowa92312
Winnebago90223
Hancock8497
Louisa83916
Grundy83811
Chickasaw8354
Sac8297
Cherokee8134
Cass79721
Appanoose77310
Mitchell7704
Allamakee76811
Union7546
Humboldt7525
Shelby75010
Emmet74724
Guthrie73715
Franklin72921
Jefferson6852
Madison6734
Palo Alto6454
Unassigned6320
Keokuk5737
Pocahontas5532
Howard5419
Greene5160
Osceola5131
Clarke4774
Ida46813
Taylor4563
Davis4508
Montgomery44911
Monroe43712
Adair4298
Monona4212
Fremont3543
Van Buren3525
Worth3520
Lucas3216
Decatur3150
Wayne2957
Audubon2942
Ringgold2022
Adams1642
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