It’s Super Tuesday: Why what happens on Wednesday will be big for Pa. | Tuesday Morning Coffee

Democratic presidential candidates (L-R) former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) participate in the Democratic presidential primary debate on Feb. 19, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Voters in 14 of these United States head to the polls to make their choices among a rapidly dwindling Democratic primary field today. And by the time the votes are counted in California, sometime in the early hours of Wednesday morning, the shape of the 2020 contest will likely shift even more radically than it already has.

So with that in mind, we’re going to shift attention away from this nearly-all-the-marbles fight and look ahead to Pennsylvania, which holds its primary on April 28, and the other 2020 battleground states that will play a pivotal role in this November’s general election.

And it’s there, as our sibling site the Wisconsin Examiner reports, a round of polling conducted before the South Carolina primary — and the departures of billionaire Tom Steyer, former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar — found Democrats either leading, or within the margin, with President Donald Trump in hypothetical head-to-head match ups.

As we’ve noted so often before, Trump carried Pennsylvania by a scant 44,000 votes in 2016. Former Veep Joe Biden has strong ties to the state and has held polling advantages in the Keystone State for much of the last six or so months.

Feb. 20 Quinnipiac University poll found:

  • Biden ahead of Trump 50-42 percent;
  • Ex-NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg leading Trump 48-42 percent;
  • U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders leading Trump 48-44 percent;
  • And U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren up 47-44 percent over Trump.

And a University of Wisconsin battleground poll conducted just a few days later looked like this:

  • Biden up 46-45 percent over Trump
  • Sanders leading Trump 47-45 percent
  • Warren all even at 45-45 percent with Trump

The Wisconsin poll did not include Bloomberg in its sample, for those of you playing along at home.

MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE – FEBRUARY 07: (L-R) Democratic presidential candidates former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and former Vice President Joe Biden, arrive on stage for the start of a Democratic presidential primary debate in the Sullivan Arena at St. Anselm College on February 07, 2020 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Seven candidates qualified for the second Democratic presidential primary debate of 2020 which comes just days before the New Hampshire primary on February 11. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Sanders is well positioned to pick up the lion’s share of delegates in all these states unless another Democrat breaks away from the pack to challenge him,” University of Wisconsin pollster Barry Burden told the Examiner on Monday. “All three states are up for grabs in 2020. Trump is in a more difficult position in Michigan than the other two states, but each of the Midwest battlegrounds could be won by either party, almost regardless of who becomes the Democratic nominee.”

The question, of course, is what happens after Super Tuesday. Warren’s home state of Massachusetts is on the ballot. And if Sanders beats her on her own turf, it will be that much harder for the Bay State lawmaker to marshal a compelling argument for her candidacy.

Klobuchar and Buttigieg endorsed Biden on Monday night, making the race a clear choice between the party’s moderate wing and its fired-up progressive base.

And Bloomberg, whose raison d’etre seemed to be the earlier uncertainty surrounding Biden’s viability, will lose a major argument if Biden performs respectfully on Tuesday, effectively rendering the nominating contest a two-man race by the time the dust clears on Wednesday.

“Whatever their differences are about Elizabeth Warren versus Joe Biden, the difference between either of those Democrats and Donald Trump, is crystal clear for Democrats,” Marquette University pollster Charles Franklin told the Examiner. “And it’s crystal clear for Republicans, at least in the most partisan ends of the spectrum.”

The Pennsylvania Capitol building. (Capital-Star photo by Sarah Anne Hughes)

Our Stuff.
The newest installment of our year-long #PennForward project, our effort to seek evidence-based solutions to the state’s most vexing public policy challenges, gets rolling this week. For the next two months, in news reporting and op-Eds, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at Pennsylvania’s decades-long reliance on fossil fuels and how the state can make the pivot to renewables.

On Monday, Associate Editor Cassie Miller got our coverage rolling with a historical review of the development of Pennsylvania’s booming energy industry, and where it stands today.

This morning, Staff Reporters Stephen Caruso and Elizabeth Hardison expand on that coverage with a patented Capital-Star explainer: The world is getting warmer. What can Pennsylvania do about it?

Caruso also has a look at what’s shaping up to be a hard-fought primary contest between long-serving state Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware, and nonprofit exec Jennifer Leithwho figures he’s spent enough time in Harrisburg, thanks very much.

Hardison, meanwhile, looks at the competing visions of school safety spending that have emerged in House and Senate budget hearings over the past week.

Our new Erie Correspondent Hannah McDonald has what you need to know about Erie County’s two-year fight for a new community college, and the state Board of Education meeting this month that could decide the issue once and for all.

Democrats are sweating control of the Senate this fall if Bernie Sanders is the party’s nomineeWashington Bureau Chief Robin Bravender reports.

On our Commentary Page, opinion regular Mark O’Keefe says a SWPA lawmaker might have a cure for high property taxes — will the Legislature act on it? And this is the one thing will help the Trump administration sound competent on coronavirus, John A. Tures offers.

From our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune: There’s outrage and calls for increased accountability now that the opening of a planned safe-injection site has been derailed. 

The Philadelphia Skyline from the ‘Rocky Steps’ at the Philly Art Museum. Photo by Steve Lange, courtesy of Flickr Commons.

Elsewhere.
In Philadelphia, 500 properties that are blighted or that owe more than $900K in back taxes are being sold for $1, the Inquirer reports.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto talks to City Paper about the city’s goals for climate change and its relationship to mass transit.
A coronavirus test should be available in Pennsylvania by week’s end, PennLive reports.
Kutztown, Pa., has high hopes for a cannabis festival scheduled for the Berks County community, the Morning Call reports.

Here’s your #Pittsburgh Instagram of the Day:

Temple University and the University of Delaware have canceled their Rome programs because of coronavirus fears, WHYY-FM reports.
Can an anti-fracking presidential nominee win in Pennsylvania? The PA Post takes up the question. 
Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg is set to campaign in Pittsburgh on Thursday, PoliticsPA reports.
Roll Call has seven things to watch for on Super Tuesday as it relates to the fight for Congress.

What Goes On.
Another day, another round of budget hearing. Lassiez les bon temps roulez.

Senate (Hearing Room 1, North Office Building):
10 a.m.: 
State-related universities (We are! Asking for more money!)
1 p.m.: Department of Conversation and Natural Resources

House (140MC)
10 a.m.: 
State System of Higher Education
1 p.m.: State-related universities

Also Today:
11 a.m., East Rotunda:
 Women’s History Month kickoff event
12 p.m., Strawberry Square: Dept. of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Jennifer Smith, joined by officials at the Pennsylvania Lottery and lawmakers, will talk about National Gambling Awareness Month.

WolfWatch.
Gov. Tom Wolf
 holds a 12 p.m. newser at PaTTAN Harrisburg, which must be something technological or math-y since he’s going to talk about STEM things.

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
State Sen. Ryan Aument, R-Lancaster, holds a 5:30 p.m. reception at Rubicon in Harrisburg. Admission runs $500 to $3,000.

Heavy Rotation.
This one is an Election Day tradition. From Nashville power-poppers, The Shazam, it’s the amazing ‘Super Tuesday.’

Tuesday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
The red hot Leon Draisatl scored four goals to help power Edmonton to an 8-3 win over Nashville on Monday.

And now you’re up to date.