Multiple presidential campaigns openly talked about their strategy to win one. House Democrats attended a powerpoint presentation to learn the rules in case they were called on to help decide their party’s nominee at the convention.
Joe Biden’s huge night, the decision of a bunch of candidates to exit the race who otherwise would have snagged caches of delegates, and the collapse of both Michael Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren on election night has made the presidential election a two-candidate race. And simple math dictates it’s now much easier either Biden or Bernie Sanders to win the 1,991 delegates needed to lock in a clean win for the nomination before the convention.
“The chance that someone will have a majority just went way up,” said Jeff Weaver, a top adviser on Sanders’ campaign.
The biggest risk of a contested convention came from a fractured field splitting up the delegate pie in a significant enough way that it would make it impossible for any candidate to win enough delegates to lock in an outright majority. If also-ran candidates had large numbers of delegates, that make it near-impossible for any other candidate to win an outright majority. That would lead to a contested or brokered convention, where the elected pledged delegates would join with superdelegates to vote on a nominee — a process almost guaranteed to be bitter and divisive, especially with an establishment candidate squaring off against Sanders, whose supporters (and some advisers) still think had the nomination rigged against him four years ago by the Democratic National Committee.
A fractured Super Tuesday, when fully one third of delegates were up for grabs, could have greatly raised the likelihood this would happen. But rather than Sanders, Biden, Bloomberg, Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg each winning significant delegates hauls, the field suddenly cleared.
Klobuchar and Buttigieg decided to bow out an endorse Biden, keeping them from acting as spoilers by winning delegates and eating into Biden’s count and hurting his chances to win a nomination.
And the two other candidates left in the race who could have dramatically increased the chances of a contested convention with good nights, Bloomberg and Warren, both dramatically underperformed their original hopes.
Bloomberg hit the 15% threshold required to win statewide delegates in just four of the 14 states up for grabs, and has won just 56 delegates, according to the Associated Press’s most recent count. Warren hit that 15% threshold in just five states and has just 61 total delegates. California is still counting ballots, but both candidates appear to have missed the statewide there, meaning the state’s huge trove of 415 delegates will now go almost entirely to Sanders and Biden.