Updated Feb 12, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Bernie's Super Tuesday edge

Bernie Sanders takes the stage in New Hampshire. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Some top Democrats tell Axios that if the split 2020 field persists through Super Tuesday, Bernie Sanders could build an insurmountable delegate lead while the moderates eat each other up.

Why it matters: With California's massive delegate trove as part of Super Tuesday on March 3, whoever winds up as the survivor against Sanders could be in a deep delegate hole by the time the field thins.

A Democratic campaign shared these scenarios to argue Sanders could walk away from Super Tuesday in control:

  • Scenario #1​: Bernie's Super Tuesday vote share is five points ahead of the second candidate (say, 30% to 25%). Bernie would net 96 delegates more than the next-highest-performing candidate. At that point, it would be possible but difficult to overtake Sanders: To become the nominee, that survivor would need to beat Bernie by an average of 53% to 47% in in remaining contests.
  • Scenario #2:​ Bernie's Super Tuesday vote share is 10​ points ahead of the second candidate (say, 30% to 20%). Bernie would net 198 delegates more than the next-highest-performing candidate. Overtaking Sanders would be unlikely: The field would need to clear, the and survivor would need to win each remaining contest on average 55% to 45% over Bernie.
  • Scenario #3​: Bernie's Super Tuesday vote share is by 15 points ahead of the second candidate (say, 35% to 20%). Bernie would net 328 delegates more than the next-highest-performing candidate. The race would be all but over.

A veteran Democratic operative told me: "Obama showed in '08 and Clinton showed in '16 [that] once you get a lead in the Democratic primary, it is very hard to lose it. Because we don’t have winner-take-all states, the front-runner is always accumulating delegates."

  • "Trump would not have been the nominee in '16 had the non-Trumpers consolidated. They never did and he got the nomination. We are looking at the same scenario."

Go deeper: Bernie Sanders' uneasy New Hampshire win

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Bloomberg camp's "dire" warning: Sanders soon unstoppable

Photo: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Mike Bloomberg's campaign is sounding the alarm that Bernie Sanders will soon amass an unsurmountable delegate lead if the Democratic field stays split — and took the extraordinary step of suggesting laggards should drop out.

What they're saying: Kevin Sheekey, Bloomberg's top strategist, said: "The fact is if the state of this race remains status quo — with Biden, Pete and Amy in the race on Super Tuesday — Bernie is likely to open up a delegate lead that seems nearly impossible to overcome."

Sanders calls former Clinton adviser James Carville a "political hack"

2020 candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders during the Democratic presidential primary debate at Drake University on in Des Moines on Jan. 14. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders responded on CNN Wednesday after a former Wall Street chief claimed he'd "ruin the economy" if elected president and a veteran Democratic strategist said it'd be the "end of days" if he were the party's nominee.

Details: On "Anderson Cooper 360°," Sanders dismissed James Carville, a former adviser to ex-President Clinton, as a "political hack who said very terrible things ... against Barack Obama." Noting former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein had "attacked" him, Sanders said: "We are taking on the establishment ... [But] the grassroots movement that we are putting together of young people, of working people, of people of color, want real change."

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Bernie's juggernaut

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks in San Antonio last night with his wife, Jane. Photo: Eric Gay/AP

Sen. Bernie Sanders won so big in the Nevada caucuses that Democrats are hard-pressed to sketch a way he's not their nominee.

Driving the news: With 60% of precincts counted (slow, but better than Iowa!), Sanders is running away with 46% of delegates — crushing Joe Biden's 20%, Pete Buttigieg's 15%, Sen. Elizabeth Warren's 10% and Sen. Amy Klobuchar's 5%.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Feb 23, 2020 - Politics & Policy