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Why South Carolina matters for Super Tuesday

(CNN)First things first: The theme song of the week is Ducktales.Poll of the week: New CNN polls conducted by SSRS finds that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders holds significant leads ahead of Super Tuesday contests in California and Texas. In California, Sanders leads with 35% to Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s 14% to former Vice President Joe…

(CNN)First things first: The theme song of the week is Ducktales.

Poll of the week: New CNN polls conducted by SSRS finds that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders holds significant leads ahead of Super Tuesday contests in California and Texas.
In California, Sanders leads with 35% to Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s 14% to former Vice President Joe Biden’s 13% and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s 12%
In Texas, it’s Sanders at 29% to Biden’s 20% to Bloomberg’s 18% and Warren’s 15%. No one else is in the double digits in either state.
What’s the point: Biden comes out of South Carolina with a head of steam. He scored nearly 50% of the vote and won by nearly 30 points.
CNN’s polling demonstrates that if Biden’s going to stay competitive with Sanders beyond South Carolina, he’s going to need a big and fast bounce out of this win. Super Tuesday is just two days away.
It’s difficult to understate the importance of the California and Texas primaries. California accounts for 10% of all the delegates available. Texas is worth an additional 6%. Together, they’re worth one-sixth of the delegates for the entire Democratic primary.
The California polling in particular should worry Biden. He (and all the Democrats besides Sanders) are below the 15% threshold necessary to win delegates. While the non-Sanders Democrats would probably be above 15% in at least some congressional districts (where the majority of delegates are allocated), a result matching this poll would be near a disaster for them. Sanders would come away with the vast majority of the delegates from the Golden State.
If Sanders is able to win both California and Texas by significant margins, it’ll be tough for his competitors to catch up. It’s not only because of the delegate score — momentum matters in primaries. Voters in later states would likely notice Sanders’ large lead and throw more support behind him than they currently are.
You’ll notice, however, that I’m using the word “if”. There’s a reason for that. South Carolina’s ability to change a race can be strong.
On the Democratic side, look at the Democratic primary 12 years ago. Before South Carolina, Hillary Clinton led Barack Obama by about 10 points nationally. After Obama won it by nearly 30 points, he pulled into a near tie with her nationally. This funneled down to the Super Tuesday states, and Obama went on to win the nomination.
And for Republicans in 2012,

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