Local politics professors preview South Carolina primary, Super Tuesday

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With three states down and 47 to go in the Democratic Primary, the final contest of February is approaching in South Carolina.

Eyes will be on former Vice President Joe Biden in what could be the last chance to spark his struggling campaign.

Dr. Patricia Siplon, a longtime activist and political science professor at Saint Michael’s College, said it’s now or never.

“He has to,” Dr. Siplon said. “It’s the bump he needs, he needs to win. There isn’t anything in Super Tuesday that’s looking as positive as that is.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Harvey Schantz, a political science professor who’s spent over 40 years at SUNY Plattsburgh, had a similar outlook.

“For Biden, South Carolina is vital,” Dr. Schantz said. “For a long time, he’s been saying this is his place that he’s going to shine.”

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders continues to trend upward in the polls, and three days after South Carolina, he’ll be looking to take a commanding lead with over 30 percent of the nation’s delegates up for grabs on Super Tuesday.

“If Bernie continues to do well, it’s because he’s seeded a really great ground game and really organized in those states,” Dr. Siplon said. “That’s not going to change even if he doesn’t do very well in South Carolina.”

Dr. Schantz compared Sanders’ strong ground game to what he perceives as a lackluster effort from Biden.

“One of the weaknesses of the Biden campaign is he has not been organizing or advertising in the Super Tuesday states,” Dr. Schantz said. “Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, has been very careful to cultivate a ground game.”

Super Tuesday will also be the first time Michael Bloomberg appears on ballots, but the question is whether his multi-million dollar ad blitz will soar his campaign. There’s certainly some skepticism.

“I think that the strategy is to try to create an aura of inevitibility that you just blanket everything everywhere and create an impression that this is inexorable, that you’re marching toward something,” Dr. Siplon said.

“This is the first time someone has tried to be a television or advertisement candidate,” Dr. Schantz said. “When you run ads, you control the media and your image. He was doing very well until he got to his first debate.”

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