<Breaking News! Mere moments after I pressed “publish” the news came through that Amy Klobuchar is dropping out, and endorsing Biden. To adjust for this, take everything I say below, and make it more so.>
<And still more breaking news! Buttigieg has come out saying he plans to endorse Biden in a joint appearance. Take what I say below, and make it even more so more so.>
As promised in last week’s pre-South Carolina check-in, now that we have South Carolina results, we’re back for a quick check-in today, before tomorrow’s nation-wide electoral hoe-down.
First to note: In the wake of South Carolina, Tom Steyer and Pete Buttigieg have dropped out of the race. From 28 total and as many as 25 at once, we’re now down to just six candidates! We see you, Biden, Bloomberg, Gabbard, Klobuchar, Sanders, and Warren. You’re a plucky bunch, but, sooner or later…
Do we have more of a sense who that one will be? One thing we can observe in South Carolina is that Biden won big, even bigger than many expected:
One consequence of this final member of the first four elections weighing in is that, literally overnight, Biden has shot to the lead in the popular vote, and a close second to Sanders in total delegates:
Of course, this is based on a very narrow slice of the overall electorate so far. Tomorrow, in a shot, will take us to more than a third of the total delegates having been chosen. So what’s the outlook? As recently as two weeks ago, it seemed quite possible that Super Tuesday would be an extinction level event for Biden, and Sanders would sweep the field that day.
But then, as we discussed last week, Biden caught a couple of good breaks going in to South Carolina- a Nevada performance that was less dismal than his first two outings, his main rival Bloomberg being gutted by Warren in his first debate, and strong support in South Carolina itself. You can see the results both in national polling and polls of a few of the major Super Tuesday states, all of which show Biden’s numbers spiking:
Keep in mind that these are polling averages, and have limited effect so far from his South Carolina win, or possible benefit from Buttigieg dropping out.
Considering where his trendlines were already going, how many southern states with similar electorates to South Carolina are voting tomorrow, and the general momentum from his recent win and a “moderate” rival dropping out, it’s not unreasonable to expect Biden to do much better tomorrow than it seemed just a few weeks ago. Indeed, the number-crunchy folks at 538 now give him odds on winning Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Virginia tomorrow, and a roughly even shot at carrying Texas.
If you put all this together, I’m smelling a very good day for Biden tomorrow. Sanders probably comes out of this with a plurality of the popular vote and delegates, but Biden will also likely be racking up enough votes and delegates to be nipping right at his heels. Time shall tell, but not much of it, so we won’t have to wait long to see!