DALLAS, Texas (NEXSTAR) — With Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar dropping out of the Democratic presidential race, all eyes focus on Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden. Super Tuesday is the biggest day of the primary calendar. Fourteen states vote in primaries from the Atlantic to the Pacific, including the two most populous states, California and Texas.
Here are five key storylines to watch as the results start rolling in Tuesday night:
CAN BIDEN EMERGE AS THE “STOP SANDERS” CANDIDATE?
Biden dramatically under performed in Iowa and New Hampshire, part of a collapse among white voters that allowed Sanders to vault into the lead. But Biden regained his footing in South Carolina, propelled by the overwhelming support of black voters. That aided Biden’s case that the candidate who prevails among these base voters will win the nomination.
Biden’s campaign hopes that allows him to vastly over perform his polls for Super Tuesday and consolidate the splintered anti-Sanders factions in the Democratic Party.
The hope in the former vice president’s camp is that it becomes effectively a two-person race after Tuesday, which may give him an advantage in upcoming states like Florida, Illinois and Pennsylvania.
CAN SANDERS STAY THE CLEAR FRONT-RUNNER?
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has long promised that he could substantially expand the electorate beyond traditional Democratic voters, but that hasn’t happened in the first four contests.
Super Tuesday represents his biggest chance to prove his case. He is far better financed and organized than former Vice President Joe Biden, who trounced Sanders in South Carolina on Saturday.
Tuesday represents Sanders’ best shot at building a durable advantage in the race. Because the Democratic Party awards delegates proportionately, once someone racks up an advantage in the delegate count, it’s difficult to catch them. And after Tuesday, the terrain shifts to states that aren’t as favorable to Sanders.
WHERE DO BUTTIGIEG AND KLOBUCHAR’S SUPPORTERS GO?
A Nexstar Media Group/Emerson College poll conducted over the weekend shows Sanders with 31% support to Biden’s 26% in Texas. When factoring in the 9% of support earned by Buttigieg and Klobuchar in the poll, Biden could take the state if those votes move in his direction.
Of course, that’s exactly what Biden’s hoping. That’s why you saw Buttigieg and Klobuchar standing by his side at a Dallas rally Monday night.
It’s certainly possible some of those supporters move in a different direction and Biden doesn’t get the bulk of the benefit. You can bet Bloomberg and Warren will take all the help they can get.
IS THIS THE END FOR WARREN?
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has struggled for delegates and momentum over the last month, has vowed to stay in the race until the party’s national convention in July.
With Tulsi Gabbard not having much of a path forward, Warren represents diversity in a shrinking field.
The National Organization for Women’s political action committee endorsed Warren on Monday. The group’s president, Toni Van Pelt, said she’s alarmed about the lack of attention paid to the female candidates, who have often had to defend their “electability.”
If Warren doesn’t pick up a big chunk of delegates on Super Tuesday, she may be the next candidate to end her campaign.
DOES BLOOMBERG’S BIG BET PAY OFF?
Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg bet more than a half billion dollars on Super Tuesday, and we get to see if it was well spent.
Bloomberg is a billionaire, and rather than competing in the first four primary states, he decided to spend a huge sum of money on advertisements and campaign organizations in the 14 states voting Tuesday, as well as on other ones voting in the coming weeks.
But since he first appeared on the debate stage, his polls plummeted and now he runs the risk of falling into the sub-15% zone in a number of states.
Even if he doesn’t, will Bloomberg’s ultimate impact be to fragment the anti-Sanders vote further and help pave the way for the self-proclaimed democratic socialist whom he says he got in the race to stop?
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)
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