A field that had seven candidates a mere week ago has dwindled down to four remaining candidates. A strong Bernie Sanders campaign continues to push forward, a convincing win in South Carolina has revived the Biden campaign, Michael Bloomberg continues to invest in political advertisements and a floundering Elizabeth Warren campaign stumbles out of the dust. With fourteen primaries on Super Tuesday, a clearer look at the outcome of this tumultuous primary race will come into view.
With the most significant win of the primaries in South Carolina (earning 48.4% of all votes), former vice president Joe Biden enters Super Tuesday in the runner-up position. Only six delegates behind Sanders, there has been a momentum shift back to the former vice president’s campaign. But, with the news that Tom Steyer, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar were dropping out of the race, there are a handful of voters who are left to find a new candidate.
Endorsements could make or break campaigns in the weeks to come. The Minnesota senator and South Bend mayor both announced their backing of the Biden campaign Monday. Along with the support of the former candidates, Biden also earned support of Beto O’Rourke during his rally in Dallas that same evening.
“The endorsement is a great earned media story,” said Nedra Pickler, a former White House reporter for the Associated Press. “I think you will probably see some of Buttigieg and Klobuchar’s supporters going towards the Biden campaign. But those voters are really going to be making their own decisions.”
These endorsements could also have a large impact in a competition for delegates. With four candidates coming into Super Tuesday, experts have pondered the possibility that there will be a delegate fight at the convention.
“If no one candidate has a majority of delegates, Buttigieg or others could release their delegates to support Biden,” Pickler said. “That could be a huge shift in the race lead. We don’t know exactly how that math is going to work out yet, but it could be a factor.”
Although Biden has argued that it is now a race between himself and Senator Sanders, Bloomberg and his $500 million worth of advertisements are unrelenting. With most of the momentum set between the former vice president and Vermont senator, the benefit of Bloomberg’s funding cannot be overlooked.
“The thing about Super Tuesday is that it is such an expensive day,” Pickler said. “Up until now, we have had state by state contests where candidates could go and make their case directly to the public in person. That is not physically possible anymore. The only way to really get your message out, broadly in these states is through earned and paid media. I would still expect that Mike Bloomberg will be a contender on Super Tuesday simply because of the unprecedented amount of funding that he has put into this campaign.”
Following lackluster performances in the early voting states, Senator Warren has seemingly been left in the dust. Finishing in fifth place in South Carolina and trailing Sanders in her home state of Massachusetts, according to the polling site FiveThirtyEight, she faces the tough task of grinding out Super Tuesday.
“I think Super Tuesday will be a really tough day for her,” Pickler said. “Especially if she loses her home state, and we potentially could be looking at her following in the footsteps of some of the other candidates who have dropped out over the past couple days. This is unless she outpaces expectations and overperforms.”
Even with facing a potential end to her bid for the presidency, Warren has shown a tenacity in attacking her opponents on the debate stage and might be considered as a running mate for the nominee.
“If there is a democratic administration, there is no doubt that she is going to be on everyone’s list as a running mate,” Pickler said. “If any man wins the nomination, they will have to seriously consider putting a woman on the ticket given the era we are in. So I think that Elizabeth Warren, regardless of the outcome on Tuesday, is someone who is going to be in the mix for the ticket this year.”
One of the fourteen states who take part in Super Tuesday is Tennessee. With college debt being a heavily debated issue, candidates have expressed a desire for students to share their voice through their vote. Laura Ann Lothrop, a junior history major with a minor in political science at the UofM, is voting in her first presidential election this year.
“Voting in a presidential election was so exciting,” she said. “The primaries are really important to me cause it’s a precursor to how the general election will go. Depending on how many people show up to the primaries I think it’ll show how many people are willing to show up to vote in November.”
A common theme around what voters want in a nominee is their electability come November. Ellen Rucks, a sophomore architecture student, believes that is only part of what a candidate needs this election cycle.
“Electability is a big thing for me,” she said. “I want the nominee to beat Trump as well as bring unity to the country. I want a candidate who can pull everyone together. I also think there needs to be a bunch of energy around a candidate, so it is hard to find a balance.”
Lothrop, after seeing a lot of coverage and hearing more conversation about the primaries, believes that there will be larger voter turnout this year than in years prior.
“I know a lot of people who went out to vote for the primaries just because all of the democratic candidates are so different,” she said. “I have also noticed that if people vote in the primaries or even local elections, it becomes a habit and they get more invested. I expect the voter turnout for the general election to be pretty big.”
As of 8:14 p.m., the New York Times reported that Joe Biden had won the Tennessee primary. With 50 percent of precincts reporting, he earned 34.2 percent of the votes. This led Bernie Sanders, the runner up, by about 10 percent.