Two candidates in the Democratic primary dropped out in as many days, coalescing their support around the highest polling centrist in the race. Yesterday, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg announced the end of his campaign, citing concerns over splitting the moderate vote.
Then, today Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar announced she was dropping out of the race to throw her support behind former Vice President Joe Biden. Subsequently, Buttigieg confirmed journalists’ suspicions that he, too, planned to endorse Biden.
The two will likely appear onstage with Biden this evening in Dallas. There, Biden rallies support in the second biggest Super Tuesday state by delegate count. Presently, polling puts him in second place behind Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in the lone star state. However, an average of Texas polls displays a five percentage point difference. With the recent dropouts of Buttigieg and Klobuchar, Biden hopes to rally moderates to challenge Sanders.
However, second choice polling suggests a bigger boost for Bernie than Biden. More Buttigieg supporters chose Sanders as their second choice than any other candidate. And still, overall, national polling averages show Bernie Sanders leading in the democratic primary by 12 percentage points.
With an immense lead in California and a steady one in Texas, Bernie still stands to solidify his lead on Super Tuesday. He polls neck and neck with Biden in North Carolina, the state with the third most delegates on Super Tuesday.
Democratic Primary Likely Leads to Brokered Convention
While Sanders’s lead indicates an eventual plurality of delegates in his favor, a new strategy taken by the other candidates suggests an interest in a brokered convention. If Biden manages to perform well on Super Tuesday, he narrows the gap between his and Bernie’s delegate total.
With a thinner lead, superdelegates could supplant Bernie’s popular vote win with a delegate nomination for Biden.
With Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren holding out, some progressives fear her candidacy will split the progressive vote. They believe it paves the way for Biden to court superdelegates and take the nomination without a popular vote win.
Much hinges on candidates’ performances this Tuesday, as the primary begins looking more like a binary choice between a centrist and a leftist. It echoes the options from 2016, which saw the former taking the nomination and losing against Donald Trump.