Former Vice President Joe Biden’s South Carolina win could change the trajectory of the Democratic primary race more than people expect, turning it into Biden vs. Sen. Bernie Sanders, said two university professors ahead of this week’s Super Tuesday showdown.
“I think the Biden victory is going to start to eat into Sanders momentum,” said Susquehanna University associate professor of political science Nick Clark, on Sunday. “And Biden will likely do well in the Southern states as well. Biden’s win in South Carolina certainly sets him up well for Super Tuesday.”
Fourteen states [and American Samoa] will be voting: Seven in the South, including Texas; three in the West, including California; three in New England, and one in the Midwest.
On Saturday, Biden logged his first win of the campaign. He picked up nearly half of the votes (48.4 percent) in South Carolina, well ahead of Sanders (19.9 percent).
The win in South Carolina, added Robert Speel, associate professor of political science, Penn State Behrend, indicates that Biden may be able to win a majority of Southern states on Tuesday, though Texas may be close between Biden, Sanders and Mike Bloomberg.
Sanders is a strong favorite to finish first in California and may win the other Western states and the New England states as well, although U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren may win her home state of Massachusetts. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar could win her home state of Minnesota
Even if those results happen, several candidates will have to re-evaluate their campaigns to see if they will be able to raise enough in donations to continue in the nomination race, Speel said.
Bucknell assistant professor of political science Courtney Burns thinks Warren and Klobuchar will be waiting to see how they perform on Super Tuesday to decide whether to stay in or drop out.
“Just like any candidate,” Burns said. “I think Klobuchar is probably more appealing to independent women,” Burns said, but that’s because moderates may be seeking a balancing candidate to Trump.
In other words, “someone who can balance the feel of extremism we’ve had while Trump has been in office.”
Warren may feel too far left for those moderates, Burns said.
Warren’s nerdy know-it-all professor persona rubs many people the wrong way, because there is still a reluctance in the United States to listen to women as leaders, added Nicola D. Gutgoldl, Penn State professor of communications, arts and science
“Warren loves to get into the weeds of policy, and we are known to elect people who can inspire in broad strokes,” Gutgold said. “Consider this: there is no word for the female version of man-splaining. She rose in the polls in the summer and early fall because she was very organized; perhaps the most organized candidate at the time.”
Klobuchar is smart and experienced, Gutgold continued, but early media frames of her as a mean boss slowed her early campaign progress.
“Klobuchar also seemed less polished as a speaker in the beginning of her presidential campaign,” Gutgold said, “but really became better as the campaign moved into fall. It may be too late for her presidential campaign.”
“Klobuchar and Warren may need to decide if they have enough funding to find out if they can win anywhere outside their home states. Even if Bloomberg doesn’t finish first anywhere on Super Tuesday, he will likely win a substantial number of delegates and is likely to do well in later primaries in Florida and New York, so he may continue.”
Bloomberg has money to burn, Speel said. Watch for “unexpected results on Super Tuesday,” Speel advised.
“If Sanders can finish first in several Southern states while winning all of them in the West and New England, he will continue a strong frontrunner status,” he said. “If Bloomberg can finish first in several Southern states, that will be seen as a comeback after his poor debate performances. If Sanders loses in California, at this point, that would likely be considered a disaster for his campaign.
“If Biden can only win one or two states on Super Tuesday, several of the other candidates may decide to stay in the race to try to become the ‘Stop Bernie’ candidate,” Speel said.