If progressives united against centrists on Super Tuesday, who would have won?

Published 5:29 pm Wednesday, March 11, 2020

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On Super Tuesday, former Vice-President Joe Biden appeared to capture ten states, while Vermont Senator won four, including his home state and the biggest state, California. But it didn’t take long for politicians and pundits to claim the outcome would have been different, if some candidates who performed poorly dropped out a little earlier.

President Trump tweeted “If Elizabeth Warren wasn’t in the race, Bernie Sanders would have EASILY won Massachusetts, Minnesota and Texas, not to mention various other states.” Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Sanders supporter, echoed those sentiments when she tweeted a swipe at Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren right after Super Tuesday results came in, claiming “I feel confident a united progressive movement would have allowed for us to #BuildTogether and win MN and other states we narrowly lost.”

But The New York Daily News criticized former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for staying in the race on Super Tuesday, possibly “siphoning votes away from surging Joe Biden.”

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He dropped out the day after and endorsed Biden anyway. And though South Bend Mayor Peter Buttigieg and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar dropped out and endorsed Biden, some of their supporters voted early and couldn’t switch their votes.

So what would have happened if Warren had dropped out before Super Tuesday and thrown her support behind Sanders? What if Bloomberg suspended his campaign earlier and endorsed Biden?

And what if Klobuchar and Buttigieg supporters waited until Election Day, and switched their votes to a fellow centrist, instead of voting early for their candidates? To determine this, I calculated the combined total of the Progressives (Sanders and Warren) and compare them to the Centrists (Biden-Bloomberg, as well as Buttigieg and Klobuchar in a second round of analysis).

Unfortunately for President Trump and Rep. Omar, they’re wrong. The alliance of Sanders-Warren would not have netted the Left an additional state.

Biden’s wins in Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Texas would have been even bigger.

The combined strength alone of Biden and Bloomberg would have bested Sanders-Warren in Minnesota (46.9%-45.3%) and the Buttigieg + Klobuchar votes would have given the Centrists 53.5% of the vote there.

Even in Massachusetts and Maine, the combination of the four Centrists would have topped the Progressives (49%-48.8% in Massachusetts, 50%-48.5% in Maine).

California would have even flipped to Biden, as he, Bloomberg, Buttigieg and Klobuchar took 48.7% of the vote to 45.6% for Sanders and Warren. So Biden’s lead would have been even bigger, in states and delegates.

The only consolation for Sanders-Warren is that their combined strength would have held on to Colorado (53.4-44.1%), Utah (50%-47.8%) and Vermont (63.3%-35.2%).

The only way for Sanders to prevail would have been to unite the Progressives and somehow keep the Centrists. But it seems the Centrists did a better job of teamwork on Super Tuesday.

The ramifications are big, especially in the coming days. Now that Warren dropped out, if her supporters go to Sanders, would it be a game changer?

If Super Tuesday trends hold, the evidence shows that it would not be enough to overcome the Centrists in the party, which have given Biden a clearer path to the nomination than Sanders.