SUPER TUESDAY BY THE NUMBERS:
- 1,357 — Delegates awarded on Super Tuesday, across 16 contests
- 71 — Joe Biden’s delegate advantage over Bernie Sanders as of Wednesday morning, per NPR
- 549 — Amount of delegates from Super Tuesday yet to be awarded
- 48.3 — Percentage of remaining delegates Biden must win (including uncounted Super Tuesday delegates) to win nomination on first ballot
- $12,681,818 — Amount Michael Bloomberg spent per delegate (44) he’s won thus far
- 953 — Delegates up for grabs in the next two weeks, across 10 states and one territory
- 1,991 — Delegates needed to win the nomination by a majority
Joe Biden’s dominant Super Tuesday made him the clear front-runner in the tumultuous Democratic primary, at least for now. But due to the many tight races Tuesday night and the way delegates are awarded, it’s not over by a long shot.
The former vice president currently has 453 delegates to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 383, according to NPR’s delegate tracker. But well over 500 delegates from Tuesday have yet to be awarded, much of them from the three-quarters of California’s 415 delegates still in play. Currently, Biden is projected to have 670 delegates after Super Tuesday to Sanders’ 589, according to the New York Times’ forecast, although that won’t likely be the final or exact number.
The reasons for Biden’s apparent delegate victory are obvious: After a strong win in South Carolina, a rapid-fire, last-minute consolidation around his candidacy from former rivals Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, and Beto O’Rourke brought his sagging campaign back to life. Biden swept the Deep South and picked up surprising, narrow victories in Massachusetts and Minnesota. And he appeared to be on the cusp of picking up a victory in Maine, where Sanders had been heavily favored to win.
Sanders, meanwhile, comfortably won his home state of Vermont — although Biden hit the 15% threshold there to cut into Sanders’ delegate margin — and picked up big wins in Utah and Colorado. He also appeared to be headed for a comfortable win in California, although the state’s mail voting means we won’t know the final results there for weeks; in the 2018 general election, for example, some House races the GOP looked like it won on election night ultimately flipped after weeks of counting.
But the margins of victory matter just as much as the victories themselves. While Biden romped to victory in Virginia with over 50% of the vote, for example, Sanders’ second-place showing and surprisingly weak showings from former Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave Sanders 31 of the state’s 99 delegates, while Biden picked up 66. Warren picked up two delegates after finishing above the 15% threshold in some congressional districts.
(Bloomberg dropped out on Wednesday morning and endorsed Biden, and Warren is weighing her next move, according to multiple reports.)
But in Massachusetts, where Biden won an upset in a contest that was supposed to be between Sanders and Warren, Biden appears to have picked up far short of a majority of delegates. Biden currently has 34 delegates of the 77 allotted so far, or around 44% of what’s been allotted so far. The rest have gone to Sanders (26) and Warren (17). 14 remain up for grabs.
And in Texas, where the state was finally called for Biden on Wednesday morning, Sanders had already picked up 50 delegates with over half remaining to be awarded. Texas’ delegate system awards between two and 10 district-level delegates based on the number of Democratic voters in the 31 state Senate districts. In Travis County, where Austin is located and one Senate district will award up to 10 delegates, Sanders won by double digits, although Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren each finished with more than 20% of the vote.
Two big takeaways from all of this: The first is that Biden is undoubtedly the front-runner. He won states that weren’t even supposed to be on his radar, and blew Sanders out in the states that were, and appears to have kept it close enough in California for Sanders’ delegate advantage there not to wipe out Biden’s wins in the East.
The second is that it’s not over by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it’s looking more and more likely that unless Sanders or Biden drops out in the coming weeks — fat chance in either case — no one will enter the Democratic convention with a 1,991-or-more majority of pledged delegates to win the nomination on the first ballot. Biden is currently projected to fall a few hundred delegates short, according to FiveThirtyEight’s model, though that’s bound to change in the coming weeks after 10 more states vote, including delegate-rich Florida, Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan.
So settle in: We’re in for a long few months.
Cover: Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, right, speaks next to his wife Jill during a primary election night rally Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)