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: 585677

Reported Deaths: 7309
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1214151720
Ramsey50647870
Dakota45309445
Anoka41050434
Washington26510280
Stearns22001221
St. Louis17598302
Scott17081124
Wright15800137
Olmsted1314197
Sherburne1149085
Carver1037345
Clay809992
Rice7978106
Blue Earth742641
Crow Wing655888
Kandiyohi649182
Chisago585851
Otter Tail570178
Benton562397
Goodhue473572
Mower462532
Douglas461874
Winona451250
Itasca424353
McLeod419158
Morrison415460
Isanti412563
Nobles407048
Beltrami389458
Steele382715
Polk381068
Becker376950
Lyon358750
Carlton341453
Freeborn340229
Pine325121
Nicollet321743
Brown303840
Mille Lacs298952
Le Sueur287022
Todd279132
Cass266928
Meeker252040
Waseca236022
Martin229131
Roseau206719
Wabasha20423
Hubbard185341
Dodge18253
Renville178443
Redwood171736
Houston170515
Cottonwood163221
Fillmore154710
Wadena153821
Pennington153419
Chippewa151538
Faribault150419
Kanabec142924
Sibley142010
Aitkin133436
Watonwan13139
Rock127719
Jackson121511
Pipestone114526
Yellow Medicine113820
Pope10876
Murray10609
Swift104518
Stevens89511
Marshall87617
Clearwater85916
Koochiching81615
Lake80619
Wilkin80312
Lac qui Parle75022
Big Stone5954
Lincoln5763
Grant5668
Mahnomen5418
Norman5379
Unassigned48993
Kittson48322
Red Lake3957
Traverse3685
Lake of the Woods3193
Cook1560

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 365306

Reported Deaths: 5923
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk57333622
Linn20748334
Scott19856240
Black Hawk15765308
Woodbury15097228
Johnson1442583
Dubuque13333209
Dallas1112998
Pottawattamie11060168
Story1056248
Warren574288
Clinton552492
Cerro Gordo536989
Sioux512974
Webster511193
Marshall481375
Muscatine475399
Des Moines452366
Wapello4286122
Buena Vista424040
Jasper417271
Plymouth400380
Lee373855
Marion360775
Jones297257
Henry290837
Carroll285052
Bremer283260
Crawford265940
Boone263234
Benton255455
Washington253550
Dickinson247643
Mahaska229451
Jackson220942
Kossuth215164
Clay214925
Tama209071
Delaware208240
Winneshiek196833
Page192522
Buchanan190531
Cedar188923
Hardin184843
Fayette184741
Wright183936
Hamilton179249
Harrison179173
Clayton169256
Butler164334
Mills161422
Madison160819
Floyd160042
Cherokee158438
Lyon157541
Poweshiek154733
Allamakee150551
Iowa148224
Hancock146934
Winnebago141231
Cass137854
Calhoun136913
Grundy136133
Emmet133940
Jefferson132235
Shelby130537
Sac130019
Appanoose128048
Union128033
Louisa127849
Mitchell125742
Chickasaw123815
Guthrie120829
Humboldt118826
Franklin117721
Palo Alto112323
Howard104222
Montgomery102838
Clarke99824
Unassigned9760
Keokuk95531
Monroe95129
Ida90234
Adair86232
Pocahontas85222
Monona82830
Davis82324
Osceola77916
Greene77610
Lucas77123
Worth7388
Taylor65712
Fremont6229
Decatur6069
Van Buren55718
Ringgold55524
Wayne53423
Audubon50710
Adams3384
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