After a fiery debate among seven Democratic presidential contenders this week, California and 13 other states head into Super Tuesday primaries that may determine whom the party nominates to run against President Donald Trump.
U.S. Government teacher Steve Foug, who will be voting on Super Tuesday next week, said that this week’s debate, despite the obvious tension, might not affect voters in the next primary, which is Saturday in South Carolina. During the primary elections hosted by individual states, party members vote for a presidential candidate to represent them in the general election in November.
“This was the tenth debate and the first one started in June, so I don’t know how much effect (the debates) are going to have anymore,” Foug said. “If I were a South Carolina voter, I don’t think it would have swayed me one way or the other.”
Despite the mess, according to Foug, there were a couple trends that stood out to him.
“Relative to the other (candidates), I thought Biden was okay,” Foug said. “Also, it’s not fun to get attacked, but it also means that you’re the number one threat, so we definitely saw the attack on (Sen. Bernie Sanders).”
According to the website FiveThirtyEight, the latest polls in California show Sanders in the lead, hovering around 30%, with all other candidates under 15%.
Nationally, Sanders leads with 45 total delegates, with former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg trailing with 25. However, with Super Tuesday providing all candidates with a total of 1,357 delegate votes and 415 coming from California, Foug believes there is an enormous number of delegates up for grabs.
“You have Texas, California and Virginia, which are all big, huge states,” Foug said.
Foug believes that with Sanders having an early lead, other states such as California will follow suit and continue to vote for the senator from Vermont.
“The more Bernie wins early, the better he’ll do (in California) because people will want to back the winner,” Foug said.
Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden has gotten an endorsement from House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC), the number three Democrat in the House, ahead of the state’s primary. Clyburn also endorsed former President Barack Obama ahead of the South Carolina primary in 2008, which resulted in an Obama victory.
Prior to Super Tuesday, Iowa and Nevada have held caucuses, while New Hampshire and South Carolina have held primaries.
The Democratic National Committee will have hosted 10 debates. Those on the debate stage in South Carolina included Biden, Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and businessman Tom Steyer.
With the DNC removing the individual donor requirement to qualify for the debate, Bloomberg, a self-funded candidate, was able to step on stage. Bloomberg skipped the early-voting states and instead is focusing on the states voting on Super Tuesday.
Despite Bloomberg’s new approach to campaigning, Paly senior Jackson Druker, a former member of the conservative club Young Americans for Freedom, does not believe Bloomberg will perform well in the primaries.
“Bloomberg currently doesn’t have the ability to win over the far-left Democrats who are set on Bernie,” Druker said. “I think that the more moderate Democrats have their eyes set on Mayor Pete or Vice President Biden.”
On the contrary, Foug believes Bloomberg has won the support of the moderate Democrats.
“(Biden) was the overall front man for a long time, and he is dropping like a stone,” Foug said. “He was the moderate, bankable one, but Bloomberg, a former Republican, is now taking over as that moderate representation.”
Druker believes the Republicans are on track to win the general election, even though Trump was impeached.
“According to ABC News, 70% of Americans have a positive opinion about the U.S. economy right now,” Druker said. “I think that if the Republicans want to win, they should just keep doing what they’re doing.”
On the other hand, junior and Democrats Club president Rohin Ghosh said he thinks the Democrats can pull off a victory over Trump in November but that there is still work to be done.
“I think in order to beat Trump, Democrats need to ensure that young people especially are energized to go out and vote in very large numbers,” Ghosh said. “I think we lost in 2016 because we had low voter turnout.”
Senior Olivia Chang, who will be voting on Super Tuesday, also believes that steps need to be taken in order for a Democrat to take back the White House.
“I think they (have a chance), but there’s work to be done,” Chang said. “I think (Trump) won by 120,000 votes in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.”
Chang said Democrats need to take a different approach and focus on campaigning in swing states.
Some believe that the snafus in the first caucus state, Iowa, could hurt Democrats, or at least the image of the party. A bug in a newly developed app used to increase voter participation caused the results of the Iowa caucuses to be delayed.
Senior Ryan Wisowaty said the delayed results of the Iowa caucuses affect the perception of elections.
“There is a very large perception that there is voter fraud going on, and that’s dangerous because elections are only as legitimate as people perceive it to be,” Wisowaty said. “(The delay) dampens whoever actually won because there’s that cloud hanging above them.”
With the Nevada caucuses encountering errors similar to those in the Iowa caucuses, though not as severe, Foug said the Democrats have to fix this problem.
“They’re going to have to figure out the mechanics of how they want to run these caucuses in the future,” Foug said. “It’s too late to fix Iowa and Nevada, but it doesn’t look good if every caucus is in a contention or challenge.”
However, Foug said that the results of the several early states may not necessarily tell the whole story, due to Iowa and New Hampshire being predominantly white states.
“As of yet, the front-runners aren’t the ones that lead amongst the (Latino and the African American vote),” Foug said. “Super Tuesday will see a great big mix because you have (Texas and California) in there, amongst other things.”
On the whole, Ghosh said Super Tuesday could drastically shake up the outcome of the primaries.
“I think Super Tuesday is going to determine the outcome of the primary,” Ghosh said. “Most of the delegates and biggest states all vote on Super Tuesday, so I think that it will radically change the direction of the primary.”