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According to Nate Silver's 538 Estimate, Bernie Sanders in in the lead nationally with a 22.7% share in national polls.

Active Candidates

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Three active candidates have over 15% of the vote. That is the path to a contested convention, defined as no one wins in the first round.

Bad News For Bernie

Those are national polls and the battle will be won at state level, not the national level.

But the state picture says the same thing as a Slew of New Polls Have Bad News for Bernie.

Misunderstanding Warren

There was an interesting thread this weekend on Twitter in which Bernie was allegedly the beneficiary of a collapse of warren.

I disagree with the notion that Sanders is the big beneficiary.

Moderate Split vs Liberal Split Analysis

  1. Warren likely has the funds to say in until the end, if she wants to.
  2. Warren certainly will stay in until Super Tuesday.
  3. Warren cannot stand Bernie. They have an open feud.
  4. Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg are more likely to run out of money than Warren.
  5. Klobuchar and Buttigieg supporters are more likely to prefer a moderate as second choice not a socialist.

It is likely true that Warren supporters would prefer Bernie over Biden or Bloomberg, but as long as Warren stays in the race, whatever support Warren gets comes at the expense of Bernie.

Importantly, Warren, way more so than Klobuchar or Buttigieg has the funds to stay in the race.


  • Sanders+Warren = 22.7+11.8 = 34.5
  • Biden+Bloomberg+Buttigieg+Klobuchar = 16.8+15.4+11.2+4.7 = 48.1

Even if you gave 100% of Warren support to Bernie, he still will not come close to winning 50% of the delegates.

Super Tuesday Big Three

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Those polls are very stale but let's assume the latest poll is correct, noting that delegates are only awarded to those topping 15%.

California 415 Delegates

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  • 30+15+16 = 61
  • Sanders gets 30/61 * 415 = 204
  • Biden gets 15/61 * 415 = 102
  • Warren gets 16/61 * 415 = 109

It is not quite that simple. In practice, if those were the exact numbers, Sanders would get a lot more.

But that's as good as it gets for Bernie. If the current average estimate held up, bernie would get 25.8 / (66.6) * 415 = 160 out of 415.

That's not even close to half.

Texas 228 Delegates

  • 22+24+15 = 61
  • Sanders gets 24/61 * 228 = 90
  • Biden gets 22/61 * 228 = 82
  • Warren gets 15/61 * 228 = 56

Bernie is nowhere near half.

North Carolina

  • 25+16 = 41
  • Sanders gets 16/41 * 110 = 43
  • Biden gets 25/41 * 110 = 67

Biden is over half.

One Third of Delegates Awarded on Super Tuesday

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I picked that table up from Democratic Primary Election 2020.

Anecdotes in blue are mine.

2020 Election Math Analysis

  • Warren is hurting Sanders.
  • Moderates are currently split 4 ways. But that probably will not last beyond Super Tuesday.
  • I expect Buttigieg and Klobuchar will drop out after Super Tuesday. At that point there will be a two-way liberal split vs a 2-way moderate split.
  • Liberals: Sanders, Warren
  • Moderates: Biden, Bloomberg

Guess What?

  1. If there are four or even three viable candidates after Super Tuesday, we are headed for a contested convention.
  2. Unless Bernie is close to 50% he is unlikely to come out on the primary winner

The worst case scenario for Bernie is for Warren to stay in until the end while picking up a minimal number of delegates.

Disclosure: I have small, roughly $850 bets on Biden and Bloomberg. That does not impact my analysis.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock