I had the same thought as Jazz did when I woke up this morning: How funny would it be if the big Biden surge of the past three days turned out to be a nothingburger on Super Tuesday? All this hype, all these sudden endorsements, and he ends up being totally overrun by the Berniebros. It’s not that unlikely — it’s basically what happened to Bernie after Nevada. A huge win that was supposed to trigger a wave of unstoppable momentum hit a brick wall. Why couldn’t it happen to Joe?
It could! But it doesn’t look like it’s going to.
The big polling news this morning comes from Data for Progress, a Bernie-friendly shop that’s out with new numbers it gathered in all of the Super Tuesday states starting last Friday — the day before Biden’s huge victory in South Carolina — and running through yesterday. You can scroll through the results here but Harry Enten of CNN ably summarizes the Joementum on display.
Here's the shift in the Sanders/Biden margin Data for Progress data from now compared to post-NV: CO +24 S to +14 S, NC: +2 S to +9 B, TX: +9 S to +2 B, VA: +9 S to +15 B (!)… Average shift +14 B… That is NUTS. (1/?)
— (((Harry Enten))) (@ForecasterEnten) March 3, 2020
A 14-point swing on average is a big farking deal, as Biden himself might say. Note that in several states listed, including delegate-rich ones like Texas, the Biden surge has completely erased a Bernie Sanders lead and tilted the state towards Joe himself. In others Sanders remains ahead but Biden has cut deeply into the share of delegates Bernie might expect from winning.
How dramatic is the shift? Dude:
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) March 3, 2020
Biden is now the favorite in Silver’s model to have a plurality of delegates before the convention, which would eviscerate Bernie’s claim to the nomination. (Remember that Sanders has taken to arguing lately that whoever leads at the convention should be the nominee, a shift from his position in 2016.) As for each candidate’s immediate prospects, Steve Kornacki says that if the Data for Progress numbers are accurate tonight, the giant delegate windfall that Bernie was expecting on Super Tuesday would evaporate almost completely:
Data for Progress has just released the most comprehensive set of Super Tuesday polls – and they show massive Biden movement. Also have *both* Warren and Bloomberg hitting thresholds in most places. Putting these into my crude calculator, Super Tuesday becomes a Sanders/Biden TIE pic.twitter.com/ytKfgV5YgK
— Steve Kornacki (@SteveKornacki) March 3, 2020
It’s not just Data for Progress that’s picking up a Biden surge. A week ago North Carolina and Virginia looked like they’d be dogfights today, with Mike Bloomberg potentially a major factor in each. Is that still true?
The former VP is poised to have a strong showing in NC on this #SuperTuesday.
— Civitas Institute (@NCCivitas) March 3, 2020
Virginia Democratic Primary Poll March 1-2 (n=510):
* Poll conducted mostly before Klobuchar dropped out.
— Change Research (@ChangePolls) March 3, 2020
Texas, the second-biggest delegate prize today, is suddenly suspenseful too. Bernie had led in eight straight polls of the state from mid-February to the start of March, and in half of those he led by eight points or better. Data for Progress suddenly has Biden up two. Hoo boy.
The big question mark is California. Bernie has led every poll there since mid-January and is under new pressure to run up the score in order to offset the delegates being racked up by Biden elsewhere. The good news for him is that even Data for Progress has him ahead, by a semi-comfortable margin of seven points. The bad news is — well, let’s look at the crosstabs:
Biden’s not going to win over every Buttigieg and Klobuchar voter, especially since some of those ballots were already banked via early voting. But he may well win the majority of them, in which case Bernie’s seven-point lead is suddenly shaky. Not only that, but these numbers are disappointing for Sanders even if the outcome tonight precisely replicates this data. That’s because Mike Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren are each north of the crucial 15 percent viability threshold here, which means the pool of delegates that Sanders was hoping to have all (or mostly) to himself may end up being divvied up four ways. He needs to win big wherever he’s winning if this is going to be a horse race with Biden until Milwaukee. California no longer looks like a big win for him, whereas Biden does have some very likely big wins coming up in Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi. See why Silver’s model is suddenly bullish on Joe?
Exit question: Is Bloomberg going to drop out tonight? Doesn’t sound like it right now. Finally some good news for Bernie!
During a press conference in Miami, FL I asked @MikeBloomberg why he doesn’t drop out to clear a path for former VP Joe Biden.
“Have you asked Joe whether he’s going to drop out?” Bloomberg responded. pic.twitter.com/irb3DgPSEn
— Tim Perry (@tperry518) March 3, 2020