Only in a country as highly-charged and excitable as the USA could there be such a thing as a “Super Tuesday”. In many ways the most tedious day of the week, saved only from being the most hated by the presence of Monday, but once every four years Tuesday gets to be something special. For this Tuesday is a Super one. Why? Because, by the end of this Tuesday, the Presidential primaries will have bestowed most of their delegates and the race to the nomination will be a lot clearer.
OK, sure, it sounds boring if you’re not into politics, but if you’re someone who follows the Race for the White House, today is something special. And the weekend just passed has taken on a particular significance for the identities of the candidates who, after a poor showing in the South Carolina primary, have pulled out of the race. More important is the identity of the candidate they have now thrown their energies behind, because this week could be the tipping point for a race that had seemed to be headed one way. Let’s get to the details.
Biden not the front runner yet, but has the momentum
Although the race for the Democratic nomination is officially down to five people, it will almost inevitably be one of two who eventually wins it. The insurgent option, Bernie Sanders, leads the delegate count after four primaries, having won New Hampshire and Nevada. His clear rival for the position now is Joe Biden. The former Vice President had seriously underperformed in the first three contests before winning handily in South Carolina. After taking that state, he received a further fillip on Sunday when the man considered his main centrist opponent, Pete Buttigieg, withdrew from the race and stated his intention to back Biden over Sanders.
The good news got better for Biden yesterday afternoon, when Buttigieg’s departure from the race was followed by that of Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar. A surprisingly strong performer in the Nevada primary, Klobuchar appeared on stage at a Texas rally to give Biden her endorsement, which was added to that of popular Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke. As of this moment, these endorsements – and the likely bump in the polls from voters who would have picked Klobuchar or Buttigieg – offers Biden a huge potential fillip and has seen him become the bookmakers’ favourite to take the nomination. Right now, he’s Evens with Betway, ahead of Sanders who is 6/5.
Two huge states take centre stage
There are 14 contests in total this evening – states including California, Texas, Virginia, and interestingly Vermont, Minnesota and Massachussetts. Each of these has a story to tell: Vermont should see home senator Sanders run away with the vote there, while Massachusetts is the home state of centre-progressive Elizabeth Warren, and if she doesn’t win there, it’s hard to see any path to the nomination. However, Sanders is favourite to win the Bay State, and he could take Minnesota too – which wouldn’t look great for Klobuchar’s pulling power in her home state.
California and Texas, meanwhile, carry the highest number of delegates and if any candidate could take them both they could make a really strong case for having unstoppable momentum. Sanders is hugely favoured in progressive California and it’s not really worth making a bet there. Texas could be more interesting, with Biden 8/11 at Paddy Power to take it but Sanders making a strong push at Evens. Biden has enjoyed the support of local big name O’Rourke and held a well-attended rally here last night – but Sanders enjoys huge support among Hispanic voters, who make up a significant proportion of Texas Democrats.
Super for whom? We’ll have to wait and see…
Anyone planning to stay up and watch results come in will have a long evening ahead of them – polls close in California at 8pm local time, which is 4am in the UK, and votes can take time to be counted. TV networks have a tendency to “call” certain states based on a sampling of votes, so we may have an idea of who has done best by breakfast time on this side of the Atlantic. The states voting today do not have a particular thematic thread combining them – Texas is seen as somewhat conservative (which is good for Biden) while California and Vermont are prime Sanders territory. Two details will stand out from this evening’s counting, however.
The first is regarding who comes out of the evening with the most delegates pledged, and therefore in the best position to command a majority when the Democratic convention comes in July. Secondly, the identity of the candidate who wins the most delegates on the night will be vital for momentum (and may have the side benefit of persuading a rival to drop out – Warren, in Sanders’ case, or potentially Mike Bloomberg to help Biden). As of this moment, Sanders is favoured to take the most delegates from the evening, with the hope that Biden and Warren perform poorly enough in California to miss the 15% cut-off for delegates. You can back him at ⅓ with Betfair, although Biden has moved in to 2/1, which might be worth a look.
One thing’s for sure: Super Tuesday is only going to be really super for supporters of one candidate. We’ll have to wait and see who that is…
Bets of the Day
Sanders wins Texas (Paddy Power, Evens); Biden wins Democrat nomination (Betway, Evens); Sanders most Super Tuesday delegates (Betfair, ⅓)