With no clear winner out of Iowa, the race for the Democratic nomination is a fractured one. And the remaining three early states of New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina appear poised to keep the race wide open.
No candidate has come close yet to receiving majority support among the Democratic primary electorate, and there is no candidate that has yet shown the ability to consolidate support. As noted by Politico this morning, “There is no candidate who can deliver the kind of knockout punch that defined some previous Democratic primary races, such as Al Gore’s 2000 win and John Kerry’s 2004 win, when they each won Iowa and New Hampshire and never looked back.”
People who are predicting what will happen a week from now are the same people who a year ago predicted that Beto O’Rourke was a frontrunner for the nomination. Barely over a week ago, a fifth place finish in Iowa was seen likely to knock Amy Klobuchar out of the race, and much of the media and pundit class predicted Pete Buttigieg’s fade in the Iowa caucuses. As we’ve seen in the last week, debates and unexpected results have an outsize impact on the race, and will likely keep it volatile and unpredictable through Super Tuesday.
As I laid out in my last memo, we’ve built an organization to match what we expect to be a drawn-out contest to accumulate delegates everywhere.
After New Hampshire tonight, 98% of pledged delegates will still be up for grabs. And as the race consolidates after Super Tuesday, we expect the results to show that Elizabeth Warren is the consensus choice of the widest coalition of Democrats in every corner of the country.
One key statistic out of Iowa that illustrates the breadth of Warren’s appeal: On the second alignment, which shows the choices that voters make as candidates are eliminated, Elizabeth won the most votes in both the bluest county in Iowa and the reddest county in Iowa: Johnson County, which voted 65% for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 general election, and Sioux County, which voted just 12.5% for Clinton in 2016.
Our campaign has been organizing in traditionally red and blue areas of Nevada, South Carolina and states voting in March for months, and in some places nearly a year, and we are confident that we’ll continue to show strength by competing everywhere, not just in pockets that reflect one segment of our party or another.
Building on New Hampshire
Our New Hampshire operation has picked up steam at just the right time. This past Saturday, after a strong debate performance and our campaign’s best debate-day fundraising to date, Elizabeth kicked off a record-setting canvass with close to 1,000 volunteers heading straight to the doors.
Through Sunday night, just halfway through our four-day Get-Out-The-Vote window, our organization had already hit 138% of our GOTV goal for calls and door knocks with over 3,500 people taking out canvass packets.
As voters head to the polls today, we’re confident we’ll be leaving it all on the field. Our organization is fired up, and we’re just getting started.
Every one of the Democratic candidates remaining would make a better president than Donald Trump. But the primary contests ahead will be a test for all of the campaigns. Our opponents each tell the story of their strengths, but it’s worth a quick, sober look at the landscape of their challenges:
Senator Sanders starts with a ceiling that’s significantly lower than the support he had four years ago. In Iowa, Sanders got no more than half the number of people who caucused for him last time, despite spending $11.2 million in the state on TV ads — a third more than he spent in 2016. In New Hampshire, he is on track to receive around half of his 2016 vote share as well. And he hasn’t yet faced the scrutiny of his record that will surely come with any further rise.
Former Vice President Biden entered this race as the clear frontrunner, reaching over 40% in national polling last spring. He’s now polling under 30% even among older voters and African-American voters, who have been his strongest supporters, and his support among younger voters has fallen to just 6%.
Former Mayor Buttigieg’s most significant challenge is yet to come, as the contest moves into states with more diverse electorates, and he still hasn’t answered tough questions about his record in South Bend. And as the results in Iowa showed, according to Iowa’s Starting Line, “Buttigieg’s numbers in Waterloo, the Iowa city with the highest percentage of African Americans, were brutal.”
Former Mayor Bloomberg has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the March states, but is on track to fall short of winning delegates in 85% of Super Tuesday districts. And keep in mind that Bloomberg will soon be forced to actually debate his record, rather than hiding behind millions in TV ads.
Senator Klobuchar is getting a well-deserved look from voters for the first time, but hasn’t been able to build out infrastructure for the long haul, and is playing catch up on a very short timeline. Like others in the race, she hasn’t yet faced the tough questions and scrutiny that accompany rising momentum.
After today, the primary race moves to two of the most diverse contests in the country: Nevada and South Carolina. Through today, our organization is closing in on nearly a million contacts with voters in each state. And let’s not forget that early voting has already begun in many states.
When the race moves on from the early states, votes for Warren will already have been cast in 19 states with election days that follow South Carolina. And within 72 hours of the South Carolina polls closing, Super Tuesday results will be rolling in.
Right on the heels of South Carolina, there are more than 150 congressional or other districts at stake on Super Tuesday. To be eligible for a majority of the delegates in the race for the nomination, candidates must meet or exceed a 15% threshold at the congressional district level (and at the state Senate district level in Texas).
Our internal projections show us at or above the 15% threshold in 108 of those districts, or nearly two-thirds of the Super Tuesday map. If you broaden that to districts where we’re within reach of the threshold (or between 12–15%), we’re playing in 149 districts, or 88% of the map.
Warren is poised to finish in the top two in over half of Super Tuesday states (eight of 14), in the top three in all of them, and is on pace to pick up at-large statewide delegates in all but one.
Despite being in the race for a year and effectively tied for second in Iowa, Pete Buttigieg fails to break the 15% threshold in any of the Super Tuesday states and is in danger of getting locked out of critical statewide delegates entirely. The same is true of Mike Bloomberg, despite already spending more than $600 million of his own money on the race, having an unlimited budget, and a footprint of more than 2,000 staff.
Our internal projections show the other candidates at these threshold rates:
Total districts in play on Super Tuesday: 165
- Sanders at or above threshold in 161 districts (98%)
- Biden at or above threshold in 159 districts (96%)
- Warren at or above threshold in 108 districts (65%)
- Bloomberg at or above threshold in 25 districts (15%)
- Buttigieg at or above threshold in 10 districts (6%)
- Klobuchar at or above threshold in Minnesota only (5%)
- No other candidate is currently projected to reach the 15% threshold in a single Super Tuesday district
This means that Super Tuesday is shaping up to be a significant winnowing contest on this field. By the end of the day on March 3, 38% of total delegates to the national convention will have been awarded.
And by the first week of April, two-thirds of delegates will be awarded. At this point, our numbers show only three candidates at or above the 15% threshold in more than half of districts: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren.
The road to the Democratic nomination is not paved with statewide winner-take-all victories. This is not a race for governor, the U.S. Senate or the state treasurer’s office. This is a district-by-district contest for pledged delegates awarded proportionally.
It’s not a straightforward narrative captured by glancing at a map, and the process won’t be decided by the simple horse race numbers in clickbait headlines. That’s never been our focus — our focus is on building a broad coalition to win delegates everywhere.
We’re confident in our plan and our path because we know the truth at the heart of the nomination process: no amount of spin and hyperventilation can change the delegate math, and no amount of money can buy a candidate his way back into this race if he can’t play for serious delegates on Super Tuesday.
If the early states deliver mixed results for the field, and no seismic event shakes up the top three, the remaining viable candidates for the Democratic nomination as of Super Tuesday will be Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren. In that three-way race, Elizabeth Warren is the candidate with the highest potential ceiling of support and the one best positioned to unite the party and lead the Democratic ticket to defeat Donald Trump.
For months, Warren has been near or at the top of the list of candidates that voters are considering for president. According to the latest Economist/YouGov poll, 40–50% of voters across all age groups are considering voting for Warren, including 58% of self-described liberals and 38% of self-described moderates — giving Warren more support from moderates than any candidate besides Biden.
And in the event that the former VP Biden’s support collapses before South Carolina and Super Tuesday, as some observers predict, his support splinters among the other candidates — including Sanders and Warren. Since the She the People forum last year in Texas, where Warren received a rare standing ovation, through last week’s debate in Manchester, where she demonstrated the depth of her long-standing focus on systemic racism across issues well beyond criminal justice reform, Warren has shown a capacity to build the kind of a broad-based, inclusive coalition necessary to win the nomination. Candidates on the outside looking in to the top three face a very steep climb.
Help Elizabeth Win
Despite the media’s assumption that voters will flock toward the candidate deemed most “electable,” our numbers show that a close, three-way race will emerge over the weeks and months to come.
Elizabeth Warren is the only candidate in the top three to have never run for president before (or in Joe Biden’s case, twice before). Our campaign is no stranger to being written off or counted out early.
But here’s what we do know: Warren has proven the doubters wrong before.
With a strong organization of more than 1,000 staff on the ground in 31 states, bolstered by a movement of more than 1,000,000 grassroots donors, we are confident that as Americans continue to get to know Elizabeth, they’ll see what we see every day: That Warren is the only candidate who has a track record of mobilizing a national grassroots movement while also building the bridges our party needs to unite and defeat Donald Trump in November. Elizabeth is progressive, effective, and has lived a life that has prepared her for this fight.
But the only way we’ll win this nomination if is every supporter reading this digs deep and funds our 100% grassroots-funded campaign. If you’re ready to elect Elizabeth Warren, pitch in $5 or whatever you can and power this movement through the critical races to come.