The Democratic presidential primary is set to get even more chaotic following Super Tuesday’s results, but will it lead to a contested convention in Milwaukee?
The delegates from Tuesday night’s primary bonanza have not yet been revealed, but when all the votes are counted, Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden are expected to be neck-in-neck to lead in the delegate race. So far, with Bloomberg dropping out after a departure from other top candidates, it seems that the race is down to Sanders and Biden. But can either of them secure the delegates necessary to secure the nomination before the party’s national convention in July? It doesn’t seem likely. (RELATED: Amy Klobuchar Will Drop Out, Endorse Joe Biden)
There is more than a 60% chance that the Democratic nominee is decided at the convention, according to projections from FiveThirtyEight. This model finds that Biden has a 31% chance to accumulate the 1,991 delegates necessary to secure the nomination, while Sanders has an 8% chance — showing a narrow path for either candidate.
“It will take everything breaking right in their favor,” Democratic strategist Robert Patillo told the Daily Caller. “Either of them would have to win all of the large states and be competitive in every other state.”
Sanders previously said that the person who enters the convention with the most delegates should be the party nominee. Some of Sanders’ supporters have compared denying the person with the most votes for the nomination to a coup. Just days ago, it looked almost certain that Sanders would be the one to enter the convention with the most delegates, but now it looks likely that Biden will. (RELATED: Is The Corbynization Of The Democratic Party Complete?)
“Bernie was completely against the idea (of deciding the nominee based on a plurality of delegates) in 2016 when he was behind Hillary,” Patillo said. “I think now he’ll probably revert to his 2016 posture.”
“Unless something drastically changes between now and the convention, it’s very likely that Biden will have the lead in delegates,” Christopher Hahn, a former aide to Democratic New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and a Fox News commentator, told the Daily Caller.
The narrative has turned quickly against the socialist firebrand as Biden has won more states, accumulated more delegates, and earned more votes. Biden won in several states where he had little to no ground game, including Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Maine. The former vice president has also struggled to raise money in recent months, but that could become less of a problem after former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg ended his self-funded campaign and vowed to support Biden. (RELATED: Bernie Sanders’ Campaign Raises $18.2 Million In The First Quarter)
“Jim Clyburn basically gave him CPR, and now the guy is like the energizer bunny,” Hahn said. “We knew he’d get a bounce after South Carolina, but I don’t think anyone thought it’d be this big.”
Sanders is expected to come close to Biden’s delegate lead after all of the votes in California are counted.
“He thought he was gonna have a 500 delegate statement lead at this point,” Hahn said of Sanders. “The story of the night has been written and the story of the night is Joe Biden.”
But while Sanders supporters may be demoralized immediately after Super Tuesday, they only have to look to their top competitor to see how quickly fortunes can change in a campaign. Only days before, Biden was believed by many to be dead in the water following a fourth place finish in Iowa, a fifth place finish in New Hampshire, and a rout he suffered at the hands of Sanders in Nevada. Now, it appears to be Biden’s race to lose. However, those counting Sanders out may soon look as foolish as those who counted Biden out before.
Sanders is still close to Biden in the delegate count, and there are another 365 delegates up for grabs next Tuesday, including 125 in the state of Michigan, where Sanders has fared well in the past. Sanders defeated eventual nominee Hillary Clinton in the state in 2016, and a University of Wisconsin poll released at the end of February found Sanders leading by 9% in the state. Another 89 delegates are up for grabs in the state of Washington where Sanders leads by 8% in the RealClearPolitics polling average.
The likely scenario for Democrats appears to be a contested convention, where the Sanders and Biden wings will duke it out for the nomination, and then ultimately have to come together to defeat President Donald Trump. While establishment Democrats seem giddy that their plan to coalesce around a non-Sanders alternative appears to be working, they are likely headed for a collision course with their party’s left-flank in Milwaukee that could leave whoever emerges as the Democratic nominee wounded come November.
Sanders had once been considered by many to be the only Democrat with a shot to accumulate 1,991 delegates ahead of the convention. But Biden’s surge makes the prospect of a contested convention overwhelmingly likely. Who will emerge from a contested convention, and how will it affect the party’s ability to unite for the general election remains to be seen.