The Democratic horse race comes to Virginia

Super Tuesday is almost upon us. It’s less than three days away.

The Commonwealth of Virginia, just a few miles from where I live, is a Super Tuesday state. Even before tonight, Joe Biden was gaining momentum in Virginia. The RCP poll average had him in third place, behind Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg. But this average was based on only two polls. A new poll from Christopher Newport University, puts Biden in the lead with 22 percent support. Sanders is second with 17 percent.

After Biden’s resounding victory in South Carolina, I consider him the favorite to win Virginia. In fact, he has just picked up the endorsements of former governor Terry McAuliffe and Rep. Bobby Scott, a leading African-American voice in the Commonwealth. And yesterday, Sen. Tim Kaine (remember him?) endorsed Biden.

Some of the internal numbers from the latest survey seem ominous for Sanders. Among registered voters, only 9 percent say they want to see the current health care system “ended promptly.” Only 15 percent favor cancelling student loan debt for all borrowers.

This sample includes Republicans and independents, as well as Democrats. But if you do the math, it’s clear that the two Sanders initiatives cited above don’t poll that well even among Democrats.

Bloomberg has been advertising heavily in the D.C. market in order to reach Northern Virginia voters. However, his campaign in the Commonwealth seems to be faltering. The brand new Christopher Newport poll found Bloomberg to be the first choice of only 13 percent of respondents. That’s more than 6 points below his RCP average from earlier surveys.

Biden’s showing tonight will likely further erode Bloomberg’s support. His pitch that he’s the only candidate who stands between Sanders and the nomination will be less persuasive now.

Amy Klobuchar is popular among the D.C. suburban Democrats I know, most of them of a “certain age.” And, hard as it may be to believe, Klobuchar reportedly spoke to a standing-room-only crowd at a venue in nearby Falls Church, Virginia (the seating capacity there is about 850).

However, Klobuchar is polling only in the medium single digits in Virginia. I doubt that, on Super Tuesday, she will win more than a handful of delegates other than the ones she collects in Minnesota. And it’s not even a sure thing that she’ll beat Sanders in Minnesota.

Klobuchar might well drop out after Super Tuesday. Elizabeth Warren, who is right around 10 percent in the Virginia polls, might well follow Klobuchar through the trap door.

Pretty soon, the Democratic field might be not only all white, but also all male.

However, we won’t have to wait for Super Tuesday to see the back of Tom Steyer. He has just announced that he’s quitting.

For what it’s worth, Nate Silver offered his projection as to how the Super Tuesday races will go if Biden wins big in South Carolina. It is here. I summarized it here.

I’m not sure, though, whether Silver’s model contemplated a South Carolina win as decisive as the one Biden achieved tonight. Silver might have been thinking in terms of a 15 point margin of victory over Sanders. As things stand now, Biden’s margin is around 30 points with two-thirds of the precincts having reported.

The Democratic race could have effectively ended tonight. It didn’t. And if Silver is right, it won’t effectively end on Super Tuesday, either

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