Today, Democrats in 14 states will go to the polls to select their preferred nominee for President. This will be the first real test of coalitions around the country. In order to win the nomination, a nominee must have 1,991 delegates. Super Tuesday provides 36% of the total delegates needed to win, thus making today crucial for each potential nominee.
Since Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar dropped out yesterday (and endorsed Joe Biden), today is perceived as a head-to-head competition between socialist Bernie Sanders and establishment Joe Biden. The Left is developing ideological and practical coalitions, generating tension. These factions are important to understand in order to grasp what is at stake for Super Tuesday.
There are four growing coalitions on the Left that have varying levels of agreement and conflict with one another. Overlap DOES exist between these coalitions, meaning not all battle lines are crystal clear. In general, though, this is the best way to think about what is happening.
The “Establishment Democrats” are primarily wealthy coastal or urban elites looking to beat Trump but are not looking for a socialist economic revolution. Thus they despise Sanders and are actively looking for ways to destroy his movement.
“Blue Dog Democrats” are ideologically similar to Establishment Democrats but tend to be more blue-collar and rural. They are proud union workers and want a candidate who lets them keep their union-negotiated healthcare and who defends their jobs. This faction has lost much support to Trump. Most of these people live in Midwestern states and the Rust Belt.
The “Socialist Left” are full-fledged Bernie Sanders supporters, looking for a socialist revolution and free college and debt relief. Sanders’ coalition ranges from the average debt-laden student all the way to avowed communist/Marxists. His faction is very young compared to others.
The “Woke Left” may agree with Sanders on some economic issues, but they are much more focused on “social justice” issues, the LGBTQ+ movement and radical abortion policies. They prefer figureheads like Elizabeth Warren and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but because Sanders holds much of their economic ideological positions, they support Bernie as well. (As I said, this is complicated).
All four of these coalitions hate Trump, but this point of unity may be growing thin. The Establishment, Blue Dogs, and DNC are working to block the frontrunner, Bernie Sanders, and are creating much angst between Sanders supporters and Establishment Dems. Bernie Sanders is trying to bring the Woke Left on board, but they have reservations about him being an old, white male.
According to FiveThirtyEight, there is now a whopping 1-in-2 chance the nomination process goes to a “contested convention.” This means no candidate will have reached the threshold of winning outright, and the candidates will begin a July negotiating process for delegates in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This is perceived as a danger for the frontrunner Sanders because the DNC is highly motivated to stop his campaign.
The results from Super Tuesday will be helpful in seeing (a) the ideological direction of the Democratic Party at large and (b) how effective the corrupt DNC machine is at stopping Bernie Sanders. This nomination process is far from over and will likely create a massive amount of division within the Democratic Party.