Obviously Nate Silver is imperfect, but his new Super Tuesday scenarios are worth looking at regardless of who you support. The Three Super Tuesday Scenarios are 1) Biden wins big (10% or more over Bernie), 2) Biden wins narrowly (under 10% difference with Bernie) or 3) Biden loses to Sanders (any % where Sanders beats Biden).
If Biden Wins Big*:
It’s a two man race, with Biden potentially having the advantage.
An outcome like the one in the table wouldn’t be a disaster for Sanders, by any means. He’d still be projected to end up with 578 delegates, on average after Super Tuesday, counting both delegates won before Super Tuesday and on Super Tuesday itself. In other words, Sanders would still pick up 39 percent of the total delegates awarded so far. Biden would be next with 430 delegates (29 percent), with Michael Bloombeg in third with 200 delegates (13 percent).
But you can also see how momentum could start to turn against Sanders. By “momentum,” I don’t mean something ineffable, but rather the shifts in the polls that could occur as the result of Super Tuesday, as well as decisions by other candidates to stay in the race or drop out.1
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.
If Biden wins narrowly
Rather than trailing Sanders by about 150 delegates after Super Tuesday as in the first scenario, Biden would trail by around 260 delegates in this one. And Sanders would remain the favorite — although a narrow favorite — in Texas, North Carolina and Virginia, instead of having become an underdog in those states. Furthermore, the combined moderate lane delegate counts would longer exceed the progressive lane counts (Sanders and Warren together would have 52 percent of delegates to the moderates’ 47 percent), depriving Biden of that talking point.
What this leads to, most likely: Biden would be viable, but he would need some other breaks, namely (i) the other moderates to drop out and (ii) a really strong performance in the remaining March contests. And his goal would probably be to secure a plurality of delegates — or to at least get to a contested convention — with a majority being more of a long shot.
If Bernie beats Biden
If you like Bernie, and/or want to avoid a contested convention, you should be hoping for a Bernie upset in South Carolina. According to Silver, it would essentially end the primary.
After winning South Carolina, Sanders would be projected to end up with just slightly more than half of all the pledged delegates after Super Tuesday. Moreover, there would be no clear alternative to him.
Anyway these are worth looking at to make informed commentary. If I were Biden, I would be making calls and job offers to Amy, Pete, and Warren to drop out. Biden selecting Warren as a surprise VP might be his best strategy to blunt Bernie’s momentum and stick a nail in the coffin for Bloomberg. If I were Bloomberg, I would honestly ask myself am I in this for the nomination or to stop Bernie? The former is unlikely at this point, the latter still doable but would require coordinating with the other campaigns. All in all, this is why I am convinced Sanders will win. His opposition remains fractured and it is not coalescing in time behind an alternative nominee. It should coalesce around Biden, and his supporters are right to feel angered by Bloombergs late entry and the continued presence of Amy and Pete. They should be happy Warren is still in it to deny Sanders a monopoly on the progressive lane. They should also push to have him put her on the ticket.