Handicapping Super Tuesday

Sanders wins California, Super Tuesday's biggest prize | PBS NewsHour

Possible directions for after tonight’s Super Tuesday voting:

1) Sanders has a very good night, helped largely by a huge margin in California that comes close to shutting out other candidates, and wins Texas and Massachusetts. In this case Warren and Bloomberg will both come under HUGE pressure to end their campaigns (even more than now).

2) Bidenmentum is real and happening and is my friend. Comes within striking distance of Sanders in CA, wins TX. You’ll know if this is happening if CA isn’t immediately called (then the mail-in vote will be key and that won’t be tabulated for a long while). Bloomberg comes under even HUGER pressure to end his campaign. Warren survives, just (it helps if she wins in MA)

3) CHAOS REIGNS. Bloomberg picks off a few states, Biden comes from behind in places unexpected, neither CA or TX are anywhere close to being called for any candidate. Bad for pretty much everyone, except Bloomberg, maybe.

I’m thinking it’s going to be 1, personally.

Be Careful For Which You Wish

Joe Biden's Super Tuesday wins — including in Massachusetts — leave Bernie  behind

So many of the arguments I’m seeing in favor of/against the Democratic candidates make me wonder if anyone actually remembers the 2016 election.

Just as one example, Elizabeth Warren supporters (of which I’m one, mind you) like to say that one of her greatest strengths will be how she is in debates based on how she utterly reduced Bloomberg to ashes. “Imagine her doing that to Trump! Everyone will see how stupid he is and he’ll lose the election!”

Except… Clinton did, repeatedly. Trump is incredibly, powerfully stupid in debates, taking nonsensical positions, having the body presence of a poorly behaved sex offender, breathing so heavily people speculate what drugs he’s currently on, and thinks intoning “no puppet… no puppet… you’re the puppet” into the microphone while his opponent is speaking is some kind of sick burn.

I need not remind you who is currently President.

We cannot afford to make the same mistakes of thinking “all we have to do is unmask the Trump and we’ll win!” That was tried and it failed. People need something positive to support, a campaign which addresses the structural problems making their lives worse. And right now the only candidates doing this are Sanders and Warren.

Nominating Biden or Bloomberg will simply be the definition of insanity – doing the same thing repeatedly, hoping for a better result.

The Battle of South Carolina

Joe Biden's big bet on South Carolina, explained - Vox

Instant analysis from tonight’s primary:

  • Biden well out-performed expectations – going in with a forecast 15 to 20% margin of victory, it was actually 30%, and close to an outright majority in an 8-way race. I wonder if some of this is due to coronavirus panic causing people to vote conservatively.
  • Sanders did not have a good night at all (performing 10 points lower than he did in 2016, albeit that was a 2-way race) but is still the front runner. Tuesday will be instructive. (If Sanders had come within 5 points of winning, or actually beat Biden, Biden’s candidacy would most likely have ended immediately.)
  • Bloomberg is also just waiting for Tuesday. My gut tells me that he will underperform, to Biden’s benefit. The next few days’ coverage will be brutal for him.
  • Steyer out, as expected. He bet everything on an upset victory tonight to upend the table and lost.
  • Klobuchar is almost certainly waiting to win the Minnesota primary before calling it in.
  • Warren and Buttigieg, if they continue to have single-digit vote results and zero delegates, will find it impossible to stay in the race. Both would ideally like to come into a possibly brokered convention with a slate of delegates to begin with, but it does not look likely to happen at this rate.

Another Day, Another Debate Recap

South Carolina Democratic Debate: Live Analysis : NPR

Winner: Chaos. This was by far the worst-moderated debate of this season, and that’s saying something. Gayle King’s awful touchy-feely question at the end followed up by her ending the debate 15 minutes early to the confusion of literally everyone present (including the network, who still had a commercial break to run) really said it all. Never let this team be in charge of a debate, or any other heavy machinery, ever again.

Bernie Sanders: Was a bit off focus thanks to a hostile audience (more on that in a moment) that he’s clearly not used to, but overall came expecting to be the primary target and tanked the aggro adequately, if not particularly inspiringly. No real false moves, still comfortably the front runner.

Michael Bloomberg: Remember the hostile audience for Bernie? It’s because Bloomberg literally bought a large portion of the audience, who repaid the favor by cheering wildly for a candidate who’s not even running in their state. He wasn’t as awful as last week but still pretty bad, with New York -specific jokes that confused me and everyone else and, in the most weird moment of the debate, was apparently convinced he won the last debate. Or maybe that was a joke. It was impossible to tell. That makes it a bad joke. Bloomberg is an awful candidate and should not be on stage in public.

The only reason his candidacy isn’t done is because he will spend whatever it takes to make everyone hate him as much as Elizabeth Warren does.

Elizabeth Warren: at this point, she has one mission in life, and it is to utterly destroy Michael Bloomberg. She continued to do so. At times she tried to make the point that “I’m like Bernie, but actually effective”, which, while true, didn’t really help her case at this point. Her candidacy is unfortunately done.

Joe Biden: tried several times for “I PAID FOR THIS MICROPHONE” viral moments, which only served to make him look confused and cranky. He had exactly one mood, cranky old man, and he turned it up to 11 the entire debate. Near the end his focus was on the awful moderation which no one could disagree with, really. I don’t see this helping him pull past Bernie in South Carolina, though, and if Biden doesn’t win South Carolina his candidacy is done.

Pete Buttigieg: You want a simulacrum of Barack Obama, only with less experience, far less charisma, and 40% more wonkiness? Pete’s here for you. He tried very hard to make a convincing argument that passion is bad and we all need to just calm down, which was cute. His candidacy is done.

Amy Klobuchar: guys, did you hear about this coronavirus thing? I hear it’s bad! At least she managed not to snarl at Pete again. Her candidacy was done last week.

Tom Steyer: what do you do when you base your entire candidacy around impeaching Donald Trump, and then Donald Trump gets impeached? I guess we’re finding out. His candidacy never started, but through sheer doggedness in pandering and media buys he is on track to win a few delegates in South Carolina, at Biden’s expense. So there’s that.

Donald Trump: is eating a lot of popcorn.

Hmm, This Covid Thing Seems Bad

Markets are crashing this morning because, uh, the Covid-19 coronavirus is getting awfully close to a pandemic.

Should you worry? No, and yes.

No, because it only has a 1-3% fatality rate, and if you’re young and healthy, you stand a decent chance of survival.

Yes, because of two reasons: it’s looking increasingly like it’s impossible to quarantine (thus the “pandemic” term – it’s out there) due to its ability to spread before any symptoms are known, and 2% of billions of people is still a heck of a lot of people. As a comparison, the most serious flu pandemic in history (the H1N1 Spanish Flu virus) infected 1/3 of the world’s population, and had a 2-3% fatality rate. So… we may be in the same league. And that’s worrisome.