Washington (CNN)The third vote of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary is set for Saturday afternoon, when Nevadans head to caucus sites around the state.
So who will win? And who, well, won’t?
Below, the five most likely scenarios — with a big caveat: There is very limited quality polling in Nevada, raising the unpredictability quotient.
5. Joe Biden finishes second: Look, it could happen.
The makeup of the Nevada electorate — much less white, much more Hispanic — works in Biden’s favor. And by his admittedly low standards, Biden put together a solid performance in Wednesday night’s debate.
The key for the former vice president is to get the stench of defeat and hopelessness off as soon as possible. A surprise second in Nevada would absolutely do that — and position him for a week of momentum heading into the South Carolina primary next weekend.
4. Biden takes third (or lower): The former vice president’s firewall state is South Carolina, which votes on February 29. But to have a chance at winning there in eight days’ time, Biden probably needs a top two showing in Nevada — especially after finishing fourth in Iowa and fifth in New Hampshire.
Most polling shows Biden in second behind Bernie Sanders but, if the first two voting states are any indication, he is likely to underperform those numbers somewhat, especially without the influential Culinary Workers Union actively working for him.
If Biden dips to third or lower in Nevada, he’ll continue on for another week to South Carolina. But it’s hard to see how he would maintain his already narrowing lead in the state. And a loss in South Carolina would effectively end his campaign.
3. Elizabeth Warren finishes second: There’s no question that the senator from Massachusetts had the best debate of her race on Wednesday night. The only question is whether that strong showing will translate into an over-performance in Nevada.
I’m betting it will. Every poll conducted in