If the polls are right, Joe Biden’s highly-touted recent comeback could implode on Super Tuesday.
Biden is charging into the Democratic primary showdown with a massive tailwind from his victory in South Carolina, but Tuesday’s delegate-rich primaries will decide if it’s a real comeback or a last stand. According to a new NBC poll, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has a commanding lead in Texas, and he’s tied with Biden in North Carolina.
Sanders maintains lead in Texas
Biden’s big win on Saturday helped him close a delegate gap with Sanders and injected desperately needed momentum into his campaign, which was on the brink of failure after disappointing results in earlier contests. As of Monday, Biden’s comeback had shaped Super Tuesday into a battle between two or three candidates — Sanders, the self-described democratic socialist, Biden, the party moderate, and the wild card, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg — as former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, billionaire Tom Steyer, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar dropped out in defeat.
The problem for Biden now is whether he can translate his momentum from South Carolina into a nationwide surge in Tuesday’s primaries, which will award nearly 1,400 delegates collectively, according to The Hill. The biggest states up for grabs are Texas and California, which represent more than 600 delegates combined. According to a new NBC poll, Sanders is leading Biden in Texas by double digits.
The poll found that Sanders had 34% support in the state, ahead of Biden at 19% and Bloomberg at 15%. Supporters of Buttigieg and Klobuchar were also picked up in the poll, which was taken before either candidate quit the race and before the South Carolina primary.
There’s a tighter race in North Carolina, where Sanders is leading Biden by just two points — 26% to 24% — and within the margin of error. Texas and North Carolina will award more than 300 delegates combined.
Fix may be in
Buttigieg and Klobuchar are set to endorse Biden, newly emboldened and invigorated by his first primary win. The spectacle of moderates suddenly lining up to back Biden has prompted conjecture that a fix is in by the party establishment, which has been in panic mode before Biden’s comeback dialed down speculation that Sanders was unstoppable. President Donald Trump, for his part, didn’t hesitate to wonder that a “coup” against Sanders was afoot under the direction of party elites.
But for the “coup” to happen, voters in states like Texas and California will have to actually be on the same side as the party elites. Going by the polls, Sanders has the advantage not just in Texas but in the number one state on Tuesday: California, which awards a whopping 415 delegates. A RealClearPolitics average found that Sanders leads by some 15 points in the state.
Meanwhile, Biden has continued to reveal the weaknesses of his candidacy on television and on the campaign trail. Biden mistakenly referred to “Super Thursday” (hopefully no one was paying attention) and forgot the opening to the Declaration of Independence at a Texas rally on Monday, Fox News reported.
Comeback or last stand?
Another disadvantage for Biden: his comparatively inferior organizing in Super Tuesday states like California, where Sanders has built a well-networked operation, according to The New York Times. Freed of Biden’s need to win South Carolina, Sanders has been campaigning hard in the state and drawing massive crowds.
Mike Bloomberg has also been making himself known to Super Tuesday voters by pouring over half a billion dollars into unavoidable advertisements. Until recently, Bloomberg had been seen as a new alternative for moderates worried about Sanders’ rise, and Bloomberg will be on the ballot for the first, and perhaps last, time on Tuesday.
The scenario in which Sanders stages a takeover of the Democratic Party seems less destined than it did prior to this past weekend, but coup or no coup, it’s still very much in play.