The Democrats are about to enter one of the craziest set of primaries in recent years. One party strategist told Politico that there could still be five candidates running after Super Tuesday on March 3rd. Some Democratic party chairmen are reported to believe that ‘Little Tuesday’ (March 10), where many smaller states like Minnesota and Michigan vote in the primaries, could determine who becomes the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to a greater extent than ever before.
On March 10th, other smaller states that will be voting in the primaries include Washington, Mississippi and Missouri. On March 17th, Florida, Illinois and Ohio are up for grabs with more than 500 delegates at stake. David Pepper, the Chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, said if multiple candidates are still competing in mid-March this year, Ohio could play a ‘tie-breaker role.’
But even Iowa and New Hampshire appear unpredictable compared to just a month ago. According to CNBC, polling averages in both states show Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) virtually tying with former Vice President Joe Biden and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Ma) is not far behind them either. She has a robust ground operation with staffers flung out across the country for months in states like Missouri, Michigan, Washington, Illinois, Ohio, Florida, Arizona and Pennsylvania.
However, the 2020 Democratic primaries became even more unpredictable when former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg entered the race. He has unnerved certain candidates like Warren and Sanders, both of whom have accused him of attempting to ‘buy the presidency.’
It is not worth underestimating the fundraising muscle that Bloomberg can bring to this contest. The former New York Mayor plans to match Donald Trump’s $10 million advertising budget during next month’s Super Bowl, and he has already secured a 60-second spot during that event. The advert is likely to be watched by more than 100 million people in the US, which makes the Super Bowl a golden opportunity for presidential hopefuls to broadcast their message.
Bloomberg has hired more than 200 staffers on the ground states that vote in March and April. He plans to open nine offices and 12 offices in Ohio and Michigan respectively, including five offices in Missouri, 17 in Florida and 12 in Illinois. He is taking the smaller states seriously.
Marlon Kimpson, a state senator in South Carolina, told the New York Times that Biden is still the most natural option for moderate voters. But Bloomberg could outmatch the former Vice President’s campaign. In October, Mr. Biden’s campaign manager, Greg Schultz, sought to allay growing concerns that he is facing a cash crunch and won’t be able to stay competitive with his rivals, thereby making it harder for him to win.
The chances of Bloomberg winning are slim, too, but his candidacy could split the moderate ticket and determine who eventually becomes the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee. Neither Biden nor the former New York Mayor inspire much enthusiasm among moderates and there is a chance that none of them will win a delegate majority.
The Democrats’ new rules that were introduced in August 2018 mean that 764 superdelegates are denied a vote on the first ballot, yet they could still prove decisive at the convention stage if neither candidate has won a majority of delegates.
The progressive wing of the party would more than likely unify behind Warren because Sanders is despised by many Democrats, but if neither of the moderate candidates has achieved a majority of delegate votes, the question is: who would be their unifying candidate? It all depends on which type of voters Bloomberg and Biden attract, but it is unclear which one could unite a coalition of electors needed to defeat Trump.
Bloomberg’s entry and fundraising prowess has further complicated the 2020 Democratic primaries. He has made it harder for the moderates to unify behind Biden. South Carolina used to be the state that determined who would become a party’s presidential candidate, yet that looks less certain now. This will be the most interesting race to the White House the Democrats have had for a while.