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Super Tuesday provided latest momentum swing

Former Vice President Joe Biden
Former Vice President Joe Biden

The next round of presidential primary elections comes Tuesday in six states including Michigan, where we’ll see whether former Vice President Joe Biden can continue to build on the surge of momentum this week has provided.

In politics, momentum can be fleeting indeed. Ask Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who in mid-October was given a better than 50% chance of winning the Democratic nomination according to the Real Clear Politics betting averages. This week, Warren got wiped out on Super Tuesday, failing to carry even her adopted home state and finishing fourth in Oklahoma, where she was raised.

The Warren campaign had vowed to stay in the race, banking on the likelihood that no candidate would have a clear path to the nomination. However, that changed Thursday when she exited. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had done the same following his Super Tuesday faceplant.

Bloomberg spent half a billion dollars during his three-month campaign. He bypassed Iowa and New Hampshire, the prestigious early-voting states where many in the once-large Democratic field spent months campaigning, and instead focused his money on this week’s big prize.

The payoff? He won American Samoa. In 10 of the 14 U.S. states, he failed to muster even 15% support. In Oklahoma, which Bloomberg visited three times and where he spent heavily on advertising, he won a mere 13.9% of the vote.

Voters here went instead with Biden, who won with 38.7% despite not visiting the state and running ads only in the few days before the election.

Biden’s resurgence is nothing short of remarkable. Less than two weeks ago, on Feb. 23, his chances of winning the nomination stood at 9.1% according to RCP. At that time, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ odds to win it were 56.9%.

Heading into the South Carolina primary on Feb. 29, which Biden banked on to gird his struggling campaign, his odds to win the nomination had climbed to 33% — still well below Sanders’ 53.2%. Then Biden won overwhelmingly in South Carolina, with 48% of the vote.

The next day, his RCP odds to win the nomination had jumped to 45.6%, compared with Sanders’ 53.2%. Candidates Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg ended their runs and endorsed Biden, and on Super Tuesday the former vice president won 10 states including Texas, Sanders’ neighboring state of Massachusetts and another New England state, Maine.

It’s clear the departures of Klobuchar and Buttigieg helped Biden. Exit polls found that 47% of Super Tuesday voters who made their choice in the days before the election went for the former VP.

There is still a long road ahead, but Biden suddenly has more delegates than Sanders, and he has another moderate on his side. Bloomberg waved the white flag Wednesday and endorsed Biden, whose odds to claim the nomination now stand at 63%.

Will it last? Next week will provide the next answer.

The Oklahoman Editorial Board

The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Kelly Dyer Fry, Publisher, Editor and Vice President of News; Owen Canfield, Opinion Editor; and Ray Carter, Chief Editorial Writer.. To submit a letter to the editor, go to this page or email... Read more ›