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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

Updated 20 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Harris breaks tie as Senate proceeds with lengthy debate on COVID relief bill

Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

The Senate on Thursday voted 51-50 — with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie — to proceed to debate on President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package, likely setting up a final vote this weekend.

The state of play: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) forced Senate clerks to read the entire 628-page bill on the floor, which took nearly 11 hours and lasted until 2:05 a.m. Friday. The Senate then adjourned and is expected to reconvene at 9 a.m. to debate the bill before considering amendments.

1 hour ago - Health

Cuomo advisers reportedly altered July COVID-19 nursing homes report

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Photo: Seth Wenig/AFP via Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's advisers successfully pushed state health officials to exclude certain data on the number of COVID-19 nursing home deaths from a July report, the Wall Street Journal reported late Thursday.

Why it matters: The changes resulted in a "significant undercount of the death toll attributed to the state’s most vulnerable population," the WSJ wrote.

Ro Khanna wary of Biden approach on Middle East

Rep. Ro Khanna. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile for Web Summit via Getty Images

An outspoken progressive Democrat is wary of President Biden’s approach to the Middle East, arguing it’s like “conceding defeat of the aspiration” to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

Why it matters: A number of members of Biden’s own party dislike his Middle East strategy, as his administration signals the region is no longer the priority it was for President Obama and his predecessors.