It is odd that Sen. Amy Klobuchar would drop out today, not even 24 hours after her planned rally was disrupted by protesters. Maybe she got some terrible poll numbers showing she is going to lose her home state in tomorrow’s Super Tuesday primary? It would seem to have made more sense to see it through tomorrow, which is the normal inflection point to start clearing a field.
Coming on the heels of Buttigieg’s similarly sudden withdrawal yesterday (and news breaking right now that he, too, is endorsing Biden) makes me wonder if Presidents Obama and Clinton—and perhaps Hillary, too—are working the phone lines trying to clear a path for Biden now that he has finally won a primary.
It is additionally surprising as millions of early votes have already been cast in California and elsewhere, and according to one good estimate I’ve seen, Buttigieg may have already received over 300,000 votes in California. The LA Times reports today that some early voters have been asking for a do-over, and the answer is No:
There’s no provision in California election law for a second chance once a ballot has been mailed or cast in person at a polling place or regional vote center. . . Some voters openly speculated Sunday on social media whether they could simply go to a local election site and cast a second ballot, even though they had already voted by mail. In many cases, that second ballot would cancel the first one out when elections officials entered the information into their systems. But in all cases, a voter choosing to do so could be accused of violating California election law.
Other questions: Will Buttigieg keep the 26 delegates he has earned with his strong showings in Iowa and New Hampshire? I suspect so, because of one wrinkle in the way the game is played today. You will note that when people exit the race, they always say they are “suspending” their campaign, rather than completely ending it. This is a technicality owing to the process of federal matching funds for primary elections: if you formally disband your campaign, you risk losing those matching funds. If you have bills still to pay (and what campaign doesn’t?), you need to stay formally alive to collect your public funds. You probably need to keep your delegates for this to work. Another dumb thing brought to us by “reform.”
So the field is now down to four: Bernie and Lizzy on the left, and Biden and Bloomberg in the so-called “center.” Warren appears to be very stubborn and will likely persist (where did I hear that about her?) if she wins her home state of Massachusetts tomorrow, while Bernie is hoping for a knockout blow. I’d say it’s 60-40 that she drops out if she loses Massachusetts. Bloomberg can’t be forced from the race for obvious reasons, so if Bloomberg finally shows some strength tomorrow you’ll see the odds tilting back to Sanders as Bloomberg will take all of his votes away from Biden. Fun times!
Meanwhile, The Nation magazine is in a panic about the prospect of a contested convention, which it believes would be a disaster for Democrats:
A contested convention would be an opportunity for a political party to tear itself to pieces on live television. . . there is zero question that it would be stupid—an act of self-sabotage by a party faction more interested in asserting dominance within the party than in winning an election. . .
Having been sensitive for decades to “the optics” and how their political choices will be perceived, Democrats should know intuitively that a wild, public fracturing at the convention in Milwaukee would be a very bad look. Imagine the 24-hour cable news cycle and social media full of video clips of a compromise nominee being booed, an angry walk-out by perhaps as many as 40 percent of pledged delegates, or members of Congress (all of whom are superdelegates) screaming and jabbing fingers in each other’s faces. It could, and very likely would, get ugly.
UPDATE: Big surprise—The Nation has just endorsed Bernie. I’m sure it was a suspenseful meeting. And though they won’t say so directly, they want Warren to get out of the race ASAP:
For the time being, the view that Warren needs to remain in the race for as long as possible has adherents even among some Sanders backers, who recognize her ability to attract support among constituencies Sanders can’t easily reach by himself, and rack up delegates committed to a progressive candidate. But that is true only as long as her role remains constructive. If Sanders should do more to discourage his supporters from engaging in personal attacks—and we believe that he should—Warren must recognize that at this point in the race, any criticism by her of Sanders or his record only benefits their common enemies. Solidarity is a virtue that must be practiced as well as preached.
Because, while there might have once been grounds for argument about which of the two progressives would make a better president, there are now only three candidates with a realistic path to the Democratic nomination: Sanders and the two so-called moderates, Joe Biden and Mike Bloomberg. . . if Bloomberg were to win, the Democratic Party would be damaged beyond repair.
Pollster John Zogby also weighs in today with lots of pessimism for Democrats (he calls the present contest a “crisis”), including this interesting bit:
Defeating Donald Trump is already not an easy task even without Democrats’ infighting. As of this moment, bolstered by strong support from his base (especially from the failure to remove him from office) and a strong economy, the president is enjoying his highest approval ratings, a 55% approval on his handling of the economy, and 45% who say they are satisfied with the way things are. And several polls, including Zogby Polls, are showing him with slight but significant increased support among nonwhites and younger voters, presumably among those who are now working at a real job. In key battleground states, he is polling either even or slightly behind leading Democrats for the general election.
And if you think the far left is upset that the “establishment” may steal the nomination from Bernie, wait till they circle back to this story:
Former Vice President Joe Biden, one of the leading Democratic presidential contenders, said on Monday that he’s open to picking a Republican running mate if he were to become the party’s nominee.
Biden, who often touts his history of working with Republicans, was asked by a woman at a town hall in Exeter, New Hampshire if he thought that the best way to unite the country would be to pick a Republican vice president.
Mitt Romney smiles, updates his resume.
PAUL ADDS: “Video clips of a compromise nominee being booed, an angry walk-out by perhaps as many as 40 percent of pledged delegates, or members of Congress (all of whom are superdelegates) screaming and jabbing fingers in each other’s faces” is only part of what might await Democrats at their convention. What about riots in the streets of Milwaukee?
Think Chicago 1968, but with no Mayor Daley to make sure order is restored.