Combined with the current election situation, historical experience and important changes in American politics in recent years, the Super Tuesday of the Democratic Party in 2020 will be more interesting.
Can Sanders this year become trump four years ago?
Looking at the situation of the Democratic primary in 2020, it is easy to recall the equally impressive 2016 Republican primary. In terms of the number of candidates, both primaries have set a record since the opening of the current primary system in 1972: as many as 17 people participated in the 2016 Republican primary, exceeding the record of 16 in the 1976 Democratic primary, and more than 20 in the 2020 Democratic primary.
The record number of candidates in 2016 and 2020 shows that the democratic and Republican parties are extremely dissatisfied with the current situation, especially the governance of the opposition party, which further shows that the polarization of the current political parties in the United States has become extreme.
As far as the campaign situation is concerned, in the early stage of the two primaries (before Super Tuesday), there was a sense of scuffle between different factions in the party, and the non mainstream and anti organic candidates all achieved good results: in the early stage of 2016 Republican primary, there were moderates, conservatives and anti organic in the Republican Party, while trump, the anti organic three no candidate, finally swept through New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina lost to Cruz in Iowa alone, which laid a solid foundation for their all-out victory on Super Tuesday (7 out of 12 states); in the early stage of Democratic primary election in 2020, there were moderates and radicals in the Democratic Party, among which Sanders, a representative of the radicals and a self proclaimed Democratic Socialist, not only won Iowa And Nevadas victory, and in the national polls began to significantly anti ahead of vice president, moderate representative Biden, showing a very strong momentum.
So, as a non mainstream and anti establishment faction reflecting the discontent of voters and the voice of reform in the party, it also benefits from the increasingly serious polarization of the two parties and the polarization of the party, as well as the momentum at the beginning of the primary election. Can Saunders in 2020 become a copy of Trump in 2016?
The upcoming Super Tuesday will provide some answers, but Sanders advanced path is more variable and uncertain than Trumps in 2016. For this important issue, we can analyze it from three aspects: the situation of the candidates themselves, the differences between the main competitors and the differences between the primary election systems of the two parties.
Sanders and Biden are fighting for black voters
First, as far as the candidates themselves are concerned, it remains uncertain whether Sanders can achieve the same results as trump in 2016 on Super Tuesday.
In the four states that held the primary in February, Sanders victory in Iowa and his excellent performance in New Hampshire were based on the fact that the majority of voters in the two states were white, while his leading advantage in Nevada was that Hispanic voters were the backbone of the voting. This feature reflects Sanders radical policy stance on health care, climate change and immigration, which is more attractive to liberals and Hispanics than other candidates.
However, in South Carolina, which has just finished the primary election, Bidens performance is more eye-catching because of its different voter structure (about 60% of them are African American voters), which shows that Sanders has a significant disadvantage in the economic, employment and other issues that black people are more concerned about. Based on this, sanders and Biden in the Super Tuesday a big point is who can win the advantage of Alabama, Virginia, North Carolina and other states where black voters gathered in the south.
One encouraging news for sanders, of course, is that so far, California and Texas, two populous states with more than 600 delegates, have expanded their polling advantage over other candidates. In California, Sanders approval rating reached 35% (Warren 14%, Biden 13% and butigig 12%), up 15 percentage points from last December, while Biden dropped 8 percentage points. In Texas, Sanders, Biden, butigig and Warren were 29%, 20%, 18% and 15% respectively. If Sanders can continue his current advantage, he will probably be the biggest winner of Super Tuesday.
Biden remains Sanders biggest challenge after South Carolina
Secondly, in terms of the differences between the main competitors, Sanders faces more pressure from the party competition than trump in 2016. In 2016, Trumps rise in the Republican primary was not only a matter of time and place, but also of people. For example, Jeb Bush, who was favored by the mainstream media before the primary election, was disappointed in the early stage of the primary election and withdrew early. Some people compare Biden in 2020 to Bush in 2016, and think that Bidens election will be as anachronistic as Bushs as an organic and moderate faction.
Although Bidens primary performances in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada were lower than expected, the victory of the first World War in South Carolina showed that he was not old and honest, but could take advantage of the opportunity to regain the momentum and achieve better results on Super Tuesday. Once Bidens recovery has reached the point where Sanderss primary national vote is less than half, or 1991, he could turn around in the Democratic National Conventions second round of super delegates. So Biden is still the biggest challenge for sanders on his way to the top.
Who the Democratic elite will be interested in remains uncertain
Finally, in terms of the difference between the primary system of the two parties, the Republican primary system is more conducive to the non mainstream candidates. The primary system of both parties also has an important impact on the election results.
On the Republican side, first of all, the grass-roots primaries mostly adopt a winners all system similar to the presidential election, that is, the candidate with the most votes in a state will get all the delegates in that state. Secondly, there is no uncommitted representative or so-called super representative similar to the Democratic Party when the Republican National Congress votes. Basically, candidates of the party are generated according to the primary election results of each state, so the control of the partys elite over the election results is weaker. These two institutional features mean that Republican candidates who have gained advantage in the primary elections of each state will lock in the party nomination with little suspense.
The Democratic primary system, however, is very different. First of all, the primary election of each state adopts the proportional representation system rather than the winners all system, and the candidates divide the corresponding share of the states representative vote according to the proportion of the winning votes, which weakens the leading edge of the winners. Secondly, there are 771 super delegates in the Democratic National Congress voting. According to the provisions of the electoral reform in 2020, if no candidate in the first round of voting gets more than half of the promised delegates, that is, the primary votes of each state, then the super delegates will participate in the second round of voting and finally decide the winner.
It is not hard to see that the Democratic primary system has greatly increased the difficulty of candidates in the first round of qualification, because the proportional representation system has greatly diluted the promised representative votes generated in the primary elections of each state, and it is difficult for any candidate to obtain half (1991) votes in the first round. In the second round, the super Representatives (including members of the National Committee of the Democratic Party, senior officials of the party at the state and federal levels, etc.) with the mainstream elites as the main body of the party will have a considerable space to operate, and then influence the final nominees.
As far as the Democratic Partys election situation is concerned, according to the latest analysis of the famous election prediction website fifethirtyeight, Sanders is only 29% likely to win in the first round of the Democratic Party Congress, 51% or more than half of which is that no one can win in the first round, which means that the final fate of the candidates will still be decided by 771 super Representatives. Obviously, this fact is not good for sanders but good for Biden. For example, more than 90% of the super delegates in the 2016 Democratic primary voted for Hillary and abandoned Sanders.
However, due to the particularity of the general election in 2020, we cant fully refer to the above historical cases for judgment. On the one hand, for Democrats, the overriding core issue in 2020 is who has a better chance of beating trump.. Based on the lessons learned in 2016, can Biden have a greater advantage over Hillary Clinton in trump? This is an important consideration. On the other hand, if Sanders continues or even further expands the current leading edge in the election, there are also variables whether the elite of the democratic party vote against the public opinion or conform to the public opinion and make a choice based on the competition between the two parties.
In a word, whether Sanders will be a 2016 trump Remake in 2020 and whether Biden will become a white etc. still cant make a final judgment. We hope that the coming Super Tuesday will give us a clearer clue. .
(the author is an associate professor of American Research Center, Fudan University)