Super Tuesday takeaways

Super Tuesday votes in 14 states offered some surprises and seem to have dramatically transformed the Democratic bid for president.

A line of people waiting to vote outside on a city sidewalk, a child points to a Vote Here sign taped to a colorful wall painted with a mural.

Super Tuesday votes in 14 states offered some surprises and seemingly transformed the Democratic bid for president.

Marc Meredith, associate professor of political science, shares five takeaways from the night and thoughts on what’s next.

Biden’s campaign came back to life

“The first clear takeaway is Joe Biden had a better night than people thought he would. The change in the race between where we were a week ago and where we are today is immense. If you were to look at prediction markers a week ago, they would have told you Sen. Bernie Sanders would be the most likely nominee, and we’ve moved to a world where the most likely nominee is Biden. That has to be the biggest surprise of Super Tuesday.”

The primary isn’t over until it’s over

“There are still a ton of delegates to be allocated, and the primary is not over. Primaries are going to be held every week for the next few weeks, and depending on what Sen. Elizabeth Warren decides to do it could be a two- or three-candidate race.

“While it won’t be an easy path, there is still a path by which Sanders could end up with the most delegates, and a lot of paths that if Warren stays in the race no one ends up with enough delegates to have a majority.

“We shouldn’t just assume that because Biden had a good Super Tuesday that he’s going to be the nominee.”

Pennsylvania’s primary will matter

“The odds are pretty low that one candidate will have a majority of delegates by the Pennsylvania primary. It’s possible we will know who is on the path most likely to do that but given the rules about how delegates get awarded, I would be very surprised if there was enough support coalescing around one candidate so that they have accrued the 1,951 pledged delegates needed to secure the nomination prior to the Pennsylvania primary. I fully expect we’ll see a contested Pennsylvania primary that will still be important in getting delegates.”

Big spending didn’t bring votes

“I think we have learned that spending a lot of money in paid advertising does not translate into votes. Both Tom Steyer and Mike Bloomberg spent hundreds of millions of dollars over the past six months and will end up with a handful of delegates, combined.

“Hopefully the takeaway from this primary is that you’re not going to end up electing the person who spends the most money. I mean, you might, but it’s not just a given that the biggest spender is going to win.

“For instance, Biden won in Massachusetts, and he didn’t run any ads there at all.”

Upcoming primaries matter

“Things to watch for now are all the large states holding primaries in the next two or three weeks. Michigan’s is next week, and we’ll be watching it closely. In 2016, that was where Sanders surprised Hillary Clinton, and it led to a very protracted fight to the end.

“The primary in Washington state is upcoming. That is a place where Sanders could do well, given his strength out West. It will be interesting to see whether he can keep some of the momentum he had coming into Super Tuesday now that he got beat on Super Tuesday by Biden.”