There are pros and cons to being one of the states that’s involved in Super Tuesday. The pros are largely the fact that you can have a major impact on who ends up running the country – or even stands a chance of running the country.
Whoever comes out of Super Tuesday riding high will probably go on to secure the nomination for their respective party. Those who finish further down the pecking order will probably be writing speeches to announce the end of their campaign shortly after the results come in.
One of the negatives of being a Super Tuesday state is that it feels like the world’s media lands on your doorstep and wants to know your political opinion. Natives of Oklahoma are used to that feeling, and now it’s here again. Even though it feels like the last Presidential election was only moments ago – possibly because the Democrats have never stopped trying to undo it since – the country will soon be going to the polls again, and Oklahoma is one of the states that will play kingmaker (or possibly queenmaker) to the Democratic nominee. The fact that Trump will be the Republican candidate isn’t at question. The Democratic field is far more difficult to call.
We get the impression that Michael Bloomberg expected this whole process to be a lot easier than it’s been so far. Like Trump, he’s financing his campaign with his own money, and he expected to be able to buy in, lean on his experience and his political track record, and cut to the front of the line ahead of the previously-established candidates. It hasn’t exactly worked out for him that way. He’s disliked by the left wing of the Democrats and viewed as a lightweight version of Trump by the right. As has been noted by several parties, he struggles to come across as likable and has struggled even harder to explain why he’s made so many women sign non-disclosure agreements about comments he’s made in the past.
This isn’t to say that Bloomberg is out of the running just yet. In what may be a fitting metaphor for a man who’s spent his whole political career so opposed to casinos, the face for the Democratic nomination is like a political game of online slots. None of the games on an online slots website are guaranteed to behave a certain way on a certain day, and there’s no way of knowing what any of them will do until you put money into them. The most innocuous bet can turn out to be a winner on UKOnlineSlots, and the biggest bet could turn out to be a loser. Bloomberg has sunk millions of dollars of his own money into placing his wager, but it hasn’t boosted his odds of victory. Nothing is predictable in online slots, and nothing is predictable in politics either.
Bloomberg knows how important Oklahoma is for his prospects of winning the nomination. It’s why he’s visited the Sooner State three times in the past five weeks, and it’s why he was back again last Thursday, just five days before Super Tuesday. That’s more time than any other candidate has spent in the state. He has three Oklahoma offices and more than twenty permanent members of staff employed in the state. He’s very keen for the people of Oklahoma to believe that he cares passionately about their issues, and his rallies have been well attended. It may even be possible that he’s liked in Oklahoma more than he’s liked at any of the other states that have voted so far, but it’s far from clear that he has more support than Bernie Sanders.
The Sanders vote is hard to explain, and seemingly even harder to vote. He’s the polar opposite of Donald Trump, and that might be why so many Democrats have given him their vote. Trump is such a polarizing candidate that those who want to see him taken down have joined the camp of someone who’s equally polarizing from the opposite end. Sanders is disliked by Trump voters just as much as Trump is disliked by Sanders voters. If, as seems highly likely at the moment, Sanders ends up with the Democratic nomination, we’re likely to see the most bitter, divisive American election in generations. It will make the battle between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton look like a playground spat.
Is anybody else still in the running, and if so, is Oklahoma likely to back them? The majority of local polls suggest that Joe Biden may do better in Oklahoma than he’s been doing elsewhere on the road, and he needs to. Coming in anywhere short of second place would probably mean the end of his campaign. Bloomberg is also polling well. Elizabeth Warren is not. Warren’s side is probably anticipating the end of their campaign already, and short of a miraculous turnaround in her fortunes, Super Tuesday will probably be the last day she spends campaigning to be President of the United States of America. If so, it will be very interesting to see who she throws her weight behind. Politically she appears to be closer to Sanders than she is to any other candidate, but her party will push her very hard to stand behind Biden, who is their preferred candidate in all but name.
No matter how long each Democratic candidate spends in Oklahoma and who they manage to charm while they’re here, it likely won’t count for much even if they do go on to win the nomination. Oklahoma is a staunchly Republican state and has been since 1964. There’s nothing to indicate that there’s been a change of heart in Oklahoma, and the current President continues to poll well in the state for all of his struggles elsewhere. Oklahoma may indeed play a pivotal role in determining who the next Democratic candidate is – and could crown or inconvenience Bernie Sanders – but when the most important voting day of all arrives, it will remain fiercely red.
In the meantime, if you’re inconvenienced by cameras and microphones between now and Tuesday, try to wear them with good grace. Remember this only happens once every four years. They’ll all be gone again very soon.