What Wisconsin should watch for on Super Tuesday

Even though Wisconsin isn’t voting on Super Tuesday, there is still something to be learned from what happens.

Fourteen states, including big delegate holders like Texas and California, and our neighbors in Minnesota, all vote on the big day, divvying up 68 percent of the delegates needed to win the nomination.

“Super Tuesday is likely to alter the choices Wisconsin will have when we vote ourselves in April,” said Mike Wagner, a professor of journalism for the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Wagner noted some choices have already been made for the Badger State, with Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg dropping out and supporting former Vice President Joe Biden within days of the contest.

“I think the party, the establishment wing of the party, is starting to say, ‘it’s time to coalesce around the nominee we want,’” Wagner said. “That’s not what the Republicans did in 2016. All of the establishment candidates kept fighting it out, leaving Donald Trump, the anti-establishment candidate, to get the nomination.”

One thing for Wisconsinites to watch on Tuesday is how candidates fair. Though Klobuchar and Buttigieg both endorsed Biden on exit, he is not guaranteed the support of their followers, Wagner said. Biden and Sanders are frontrunners going in, but Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Mike Bloomberg could still pick up a number of delegates.

However, success in the primaries does not guarantee success for the party in the general election in November.

“When you see candidates scoring really high numbers in states like Tennessee, keep in mind that those are unlikely states to go for the Democrats,” Wagner said.

He said instead, looking at demographic breakdowns for candidate support can give better indications to general election success, particularly in populations that can make a difference in turnout in swing states, such as African-American voters in Wisconsin.

Wagner said it is likely the race for the Democratic nomination will remain tight, possibly to the convention, meaning Wisconsin’s primary would stay relevant, even in its later slot in April.

“Wisconsin is critical to the 2020 general election,” Wagner said. “And winning Wisconsin as the Democratic Party candidate in the primary is something that will be used in the narrative as a sign of strength for that candidate.”