In the scenario above — after a big South Carolina win — Biden would be the plurality favorite in every Southern state on Super Tuesday, namely: Texas, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Oklahoma and Arkansas. While Sanders would remain the favorite in every non-Southern state2 except Minnesota3 including — critically — California, where he has a huge polling lead and where 415 pledged delegates are at stake.
But even if Sanders racks up big margins in California, this isn’t a great outcome for him from a delegate standpoint. He’d only be about 150 delegates ahead of Biden out of a total of 3,979 pledged delegates eventually to be awarded.
And from a narrative standpoint — and the polling bounce that results from it — it could be fairly bad for him. Sanders might not get very many wins in the Eastern and Central time zone states that the media will cover heavily early in the evening. And the wins Sanders would get would mostly be in white, liberal states where he was expected to win — until California reports its results, but that creates its own problems for Sanders.
What’s wrong with California? Well, nothing, nothing at all. But California takes a long time — days and sometimes even weeks! — to count its votes since mail ballots there only need to be postmarked by Election Day.