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Democrats are potentially headed into a potentially contested convention this summer. Below is a brief "Axios on HBO" video explainer with Elaine Kamarck of the Brookings Institution on how it would go down.

State of play: Sen. Bernie Sanders is currently leading the delegate count, with former Vice President Joe Biden trailing closely after winning South Carolina's primary on Saturday.

Where it stands... As Kamarck puts it: "A contested convention is a convention where going into the convention nobody really knows who's gonna win a first-ballot nomination."

  • A nominee is typically declared by whomever has earned a majority of delegates in the primaries — a benchmark that potentially no Democrat will reach this round.
  • Candidates still standing at a theoretically contested convention must then try and earn 51% of the vote from delegates in the convention hall.
  • Contenders may go about that by lobbying supporters of weaker candidates, and targeting undecided delegates.

Between the lines: Kamarck notes, "In the old days, the big bargaining chip was the vice presidency. And frankly, that would probably still be the bargaining chip in today's world because you would have these arranged marriages."

  • Kamarck suggested: "Biden-Warren might be an arranged marriage. Certainly Biden-Sanders would be an arranged marriage. Or Sanders-Biden would be very much an arranged marriage."

She also suggested that billionaire Michael Bloomberg could be an outlier in the dynamic.

  • "[Bloomberg] could do well enough to come into the convention with several hundred delegates. At this point, I'd say he's probably more likely to be a kingmaker than the king, although anything's possible when you're spending that kind of money," Kamarck notes.

Go deeper

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day — U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record.
  2. Politics: States beg for Warp Speed billions.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases.
  4. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.

Technical glitch in Facebook's ad tools creates political firestorm

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: SOPA Images / Contributor

Facebook said late Thursday that a mix of "technical problems" and confusion among advertisers around its new political ad ban rules caused issues affecting ad campaigns of both parties.

Why it matters: A report out Thursday morning suggested the ad tools were causing campaign ads, even those that adhered to Facebook's new rules, to be paused. Very quickly, political campaigners began asserting the tech giant was enforcing policies in a way that was biased against their campaigns.

5 hours ago - Health

States beg for Warp Speed billions

A COVID-19 drive-thru testing center yesterday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. Photo: David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP

Operation Warp Speed has an Achilles' heel: States need billions to distribute vaccines — and many say they don't have the cash.

Why it matters: The first emergency use authorization could come as soon as next month, but vaccines require funding for workers, shipping and handling, and for reserving spaces for vaccination sites.