Super Tuesday 2 is another huge night in the Democrat primary and Paul Krishnamurty expects it to signal the effective end of the contest...
"Michigan is the most significant race. Sanders pulled off a famous upset here in 2016 at odds around 34.0...The polls here are terrible for him and the market now rates Biden a mere 1.06 chance."
At the risk of offending Tulsi Gabbard's slither of support, the Democrat Nomination now appears to be a two-horse race. Within a few days, it could be over.
Delegate lead exceeds Biden expectations
On Super Tuesday, Joe Biden exceeded even the most optimistic expectations. He leads Bernie Sanders on the delegate count - something that seemed unimaginable just a few days before Democrats went to the polls. Although that lead is far from unassailable on paper, with just under two-thirds of delegates yet to be allocated, the signals are it will become so following the next two rounds of primaries on consecutive Tuesdays.
Michael Bloomberg has quit the race and, predictably, endorsed Biden. Elizabeth Warren has also withdrawn but is holding off an endorsement. This latter news is probably a mortal blow to Sanders, who aligns with her on most issues.
Warren yet to endorse either man
In an interview with Rachel Maddow, the Massachusetts Senator expressed deep concern about the divisive, abusive tactics of Sanders' online supporters. When the history of this primary is written, their targeting of Warren last autumn will be regarded as a turning point. It split the Left of the party, ruining their best ever chance of a shot at the presidency, and destroyed the candidate most likely to unite the party.
Events of recent days have reinforced the problem. Whereas Bernie himself has committed to endorsing Biden if losing to him, the 'Bernie Bros' have gone to war. Social media has been awash with attacks on Biden's mental state, parroting the Kremlin and Trump campaign's line that he is in 'cognitive decline'.
Relatively famous surrogates such as Kyle Kulinski of TYT even went so far as to share the Trump campaign's selectively edited videos. This one for instance cuts Biden off mid-sentence to misrepresent. In fact he goes on to say "We can only re-elect Trump if in fact we get engaged in this circular firing squad here. Its gotta be a positive campaign." Compare the two versions here.
It's every day guys. It's not funny. He has dementia. pic.twitter.com/K9grhBk1dJ? Secular Talk (@KyleKulinski) March 8, 2020
Whether or not such co-ordination is sinister or not, it plainly misreads the mood among the Democrat base. It has been evident since 2016 that their priority is beating Trump - vote blue, no matter who. If Kulinski et al think smearing the probable nominee will play well for them in forthcoming primaries, they inhabit a parallel universe.
It is just about feasible, if unlikely, that Biden could fall short of a majority of delegates. It is almost unimaginable that Sanders would win a majority - Fivethirtyeight rate the two prospects at 5% and 1% respectively. Given such divisive antics, no way will he emerge as the candidate following a contested convention.
Super Tuesday 2 could prove decisive
Super Tuesday 2 may well signal the end. Among the six races, Mississippi and Missouri look total bankers for Biden, at respective odds of [1.01] and [1.01]. As we have seen elsewhere in the South, Sanders is not cutting through with the vast numbers of black voters among the Democrat base.
Sanders did, however, win all the other four races. Were he to repeat those successes, his candidacy could get something of a second wind. That, however, seems highly unlikely.
Michigan signals are grim for Sanders
Michigan is the most significant race. Sanders pulled off a famous upset here in 2016 at odds around [34.0], proving how volatile these primaries can be. (Note too that last week saw him lose from odds around [1.11] in Maine among a series of turnarounds.)
The polls here are terrible for him - the last two have Biden 24% and 21% ahead and the market now rates him a mere [1.06] chance. Again, failure to win enough black voters - an overwhelming majority of Democrats in Detroit, for example - is the problem.
Biden now favourite in all six ST2 races
The other three states are much whiter and therefore more suitable for Sanders. However, the market has moved against him in each. Biden has been matched down to [1.4] in North Dakota, [1.67] in Washington and [1.61] in Idaho.
There is considerably less polling data available in these three states and any punters wanting to back Sanders should focus on them. Interestingly the current Fivethirtyeight forecast is better than the current odds - he's rated slightly likelier in Washington.
None of them appeal for my money. These Fivethirtyeight estimates tend to react a few days after the fundamental dynamics change. Hence how they underestimated Biden and the likelihood of anyone winning an overall majority.
It is increasingly apparent that, without being able to monopolise the substantial 'anti-Clinton' vote as per 2016, Sanders appeal is limited in most states. His only truly impressive result so far was Nevada - probably due to a better organised Latino vote, affiliated to the powerful Culinary Workers Union.
My strong instinct is that the race has turned decisively and, whatever unrepresentative fringe activists think, the vast majority of Democrats are ready to unite. I reckon Biden will enjoy a clean sweep tomorrow and effectively end the contest.