Wow what a crazy primary cycle we’ve had so far! Just a few days ago before the South Carolina results came in the Democratic primary race looked like it was Sanders’ race to lose. Now, with a big win for Biden in South Carolina and Steyer, Buttigieg and Klobuchar all dropping out of the race (with the last two endorsing Biden), it’s a whole new race! So what can we say about Super Tuesday, and what should we watch for with tonight’s results?
Some notes as we head into tonight’s results:
- Polls are more unreliable than usual given the huge shifts in race dynamics we’ve seen since Saturday. Biden’s big win in South Carolina and multiple candidates dropping out and endorsing him intuitively should benefit Biden tonight. That said voters tend to do what they want, and Sanders tends to do well when voters are asked about their favored second choice candidate. Big states to watch tonight that could award a plurality win for Sanders or Biden are Texas and Tennessee (our heart goes out to people impacted by TN tornadoes). Smaller, but close, states include Oklahoma, Arkansas and Utah.
- It is extremely unlikely any candidate will walk away with a majority of delegates after tonight’s results are counted. Bloomberg and Warren should both pick up substantial delegates and may even pick up a state win or two. What we’re more likely to see is both Biden and Sanders ending up fairly close on delegate counts, with one or the other leading by plurality.
- Social media tracking slightly favors Sanders. Although the difference in volume is negligible between the two front-runners, Sanders does have slightly more positive sentiment than Biden. Bloomberg and Warren have much lower social interaction volume. Warren’s sentiment is the most positive of all candidates running, but it is unlikely to mean much without more people talking. Bloomberg’s social media sentiment is quite negative.
- Bloomberg has been saturating Super Tuesday markets with ads for a while now. It’s unlikely Bloomberg will win the most delegates tonight, but he may win a state or two and mute Biden’s surge.
There are a number of things to watch for tonight as results come in that should impact the rest of the race, and ultimately the general election:
- Will Hispanic voters continue to disproportionately support Sanders? Hispanic voters are big voting blocks in CA and TX and they definitely backed Sanders in NV. Will these key voting constituencies continue to support Sanders, or will they swap over to Biden?
- Will younger voters give Biden a look? To date, younger voters have disproportionately supported Sanders. Will this continue?
- Will Democratic turnout be higher than expected? To date, Democratic turnout has been higher than 2016, but not especially high. Key states to watch that may be important for the general election include Colorado (123k in 2016), Minnesota (205k in 2016), Texas (1.4M in 2016) and Virginia (785k in 2016). While deriving insights from primary turnout alone is generally not a good predictor for general election results, especially higher turnout (>30% increase) may indicate a significant increase in enthusiasm for Democrats come the general election.
I hope everyone has a good time watching results come in tonight! 38% of delegates will be awarded by the end of tonight’s Super Tuesday results, so hopefully we’ll have a much better idea who will be our ultimate challenger to President Trump in November.