/With Warren gaining, Biden builds a Super Tuesday fortress

With Warren gaining, Biden builds a Super Tuesday fortress

Many of the states on the Super Tuesday map — which includes a handful of Southern and Border states — play to his strengths among African-Americans and more moderate Democrats.

The Super Tuesday focus also serves as an insurance policy against Warren, in particular, since her appeal to white, liberal voters could mean strong finishes in places like Iowa and New Hampshire — which, in turn, could propel her momentum through Nevada and South Carolina and into the next stage of the primary.

Central to the Biden campaign’s theory is the belief that, after the Feb. 29 primary in South Carolina, the now-sprawling Democratic field would be narrowed to just two candidates. And one of them — Biden — would be far better positioned to amass delegates on a primary date that offers a windfall of roughly 1,300.

By contrast, in the four early-state contests only 155 delegates are up for grabs.

“If history is any guide, this will likely be a two-person race coming out of South Carolina, and whomever emerges from Super Tuesday with a significant delegate lead will be extremely difficult to catch,” a senior Biden official said.

Under Democratic delegate selection rules, some congressional districts are allocated more delegates than others. For months, the campaign has zeroed in on the most delegate-rich congressional districts in Super Tuesday states like Texas, North Carolina, California and Alabama and attempted to assemble slates of supporters specific to those districts.

North Carolina’s majority-minority 1st Congressional District is one of them. In that district — where eight delegates are on the line, rather than the four or five that most other districts offer — Biden was recently endorsed by Congressman G.K. Butterfield.

Over the next two weeks, Biden’s campaign will expand on those efforts by building out a formal Super Tuesday apparatus, adding to its dedicated staffing in the Philadelphia headquarters and hiring state directors in some of the biggest and most delegate-rich states. Biden has traveled to nine Super Tuesday states in recent months.

“The endorsement slates we’ve rolled out are proof of the time and energy we’ve put into these states to date,” said Biden deputy campaign manager of states, Pete Kavanaugh. “No one has been able to release remotely close to what we have.”

The Biden campaign declined to detail the resources it’s committing to Super Tuesday. Nor would they acknowledge that their strategy is geared toward Warren, who has surpassed Sen. Bernie Sanders in some recent national and state polls.

But they repeatedly stressed that Biden’s advantage is with a “broad, diverse” coalition of voters. Implicit is the idea that the South could be tough terrain for Warren and her liberal brand of politics.

While the Massachusetts senator is broadening her base of support — including with African Americans — Biden still enjoys wide leads over her in South Carolina and Texas polls. According to the most recent Quinnipiac national poll, Biden had a 40%-19% lead among African-Americans.

On Super Tuesday, roughly 40% of all delegates will be at stake.

“As of today, we believe Biden would surpass the 15 percent delegate threshold [to be awarded delegates] in nearly every congressional district across the country and in districts where only one or two candidates meet the threshold, Biden is the common denominator,” said another Biden adviser.

Early-state success is central to Warren’s strategy — she just announced a $10 million TV ad buy in the four early states. But she’s also laying groundwork in Super Tuesday states, including hiring a state director in California, the biggest state voting March 3.

“We’re targeting our resources to invest in places that will be critical to keeping the House, taking back the U.S. Senate, and regaining ground in key state legislatures in 2020,” Roger Lau, Warren’s campaign manager, said in a recent public memo.

Warren’s camp contends that her decision to forgo high-dollar fundraisers and donor call-time means she has a greater ability to hold town halls and meet people face to face. The Massachusetts senator has visited 10 of the 14 states voting March 3 and senior staffers have had hundreds of conversations with activists and grassroots supporters in all Super Tuesday states, according to the campaign.

“Every single day we organize across the country, and we will have an organized presence in every state and territory that holds a nominating contest,” said Warren campaign spokesman Chris Hayden. “We’re laying the groundwork to have a large movement of grassroots supporters that will own a piece of this campaign and be in the fight with us. This is a contest where every voice and vote matters and we will look to earn as many of those votes as we can when contests begin in February and end in June.”

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