New analysis reveals how Bernie Sanders could wrap up the Democratic nomination
After Sen. Bernie Sanders’ impressive performance in New Hampshire’s 2020 Democratic presidential primary (which he won) and the Iowa Caucuses (where he won the popular vote but not the delegate count), Democratic strategists are grappling with the possibility that he will ultimately receive the nomination. It remains to be seen what will happen in the Democratic Nevada and South Carolina primaries and on Super Tuesday, but there is no doubt that the progressive Vermont senator has a great deal of momentum and an aggressive ground game. Reporter Nate Cohn examines Sanders’ possible path to a Democratic primary nomination in an article for the New York Times, offering analysis of his strengths and challenges.
“Mr. Sanders has substantially more support among black voters and could easily claim the lead among them in the next round of national polling,” Cohn observes. “His vast financial resources and status as a well-known returning runner-up give him some of the advantages that establishment-backed candidates have usually relied on to outlast activist-backed candidates.”
Cohn stresses, however, that “the Democratic nomination rules, which award delegates fairly proportionally among candidates who exceed 15% of the vote in a state or district, make it hard for him to win a majority of delegates on Super Tuesday with a plurality of the vote.”
Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg is hoping to make his big mark on Super Tuesday, but Cohn reports that a strong Super Tuesday performance by Sanders cannot be ruled out. And if the field around him remains fractured, Sanders could reap big wins by squeezing out all or most of his opponents from the delegate race.
“There are some situations where Mr. Sanders might nonetheless rack up a big delegate majority: if he is the only candidate who breaches 15% of the vote in a state, or if only he and one other person do so,” Cohn explains. “This is possible; the non-Sanders candidates who are over 15% are generally in decline, while some of those on the rise are well beneath 15%.”
Cohn reports that although the results in Iowa and New Hampshire amount to a “strategic victory” for Sanders, he's not yet "in a dominant position.” Other candidates in the Democratic primary are still “within striking distance of overtaking him if the race should break their way.”
“Even if no single rival emerges as a strong challenger,” Cohn explains, “a group of viable opponents could easily deny Mr. Sanders a majority of delegates to the Democratic National Convention, raising the specter of a contested convention in Milwaukee. Much will depend on the Democratic Party’s arcane math for awarding delegates.”
Some Democratic strategists are worried about Sanders’ success, fearing that if he wins the nomination, it would be difficult for a self-described “democratic socialist” to defeat President Donald Trump in the general election. But Democratic centrists are still debating who might be the best alternative to Sanders and have the best chance of defeating Trump.
“The Iowa and New Hampshire results leave the moderate wing of the Democratic Party in disarray, with few obvious opportunities for any of its candidates to consolidate support before Super Tuesday on March 3,” Cohn notes. The “rise” of former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg in the primary, according to Cohn, “creates a possibility that the wing could splinter further before it unifies, if it ever does.”
Some important things Sanders has going for him in the primary, according to Cohn, include the “apparent decline” of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s campaign — which has “allowed” him to “consolidate the party’s progressive left —and the fact that Sen. Amy Klobuchar and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg “have virtually no support among black voters in national polls.”