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Can Warren count on Massachusetts on Super Tuesday?

Elizabeth Warren spoke to supporters in New Hampshire on Tuesday.
Elizabeth Warren spoke to supporters in New Hampshire on Tuesday.Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

Senator Elizabeth Warren has been elected twice statewide here. Local committee leaders have rallied in support of her presidential run. No campaign, Massachusetts party officials say, has a bigger presence in her home state.

But Massachusetts Democrats are still bracing for drama on Super Tuesday, when voters in 14 states — including Warren’s own — will distribute one-third of the total delegates to a still-nebulous field of candidates.

With less than three weeks until the March 3 vote, Warren’s apparent inside track to victory in her home state — and the much-needed boost it could provide her bruised campaign — faces any number of complications: her lackluster finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, a Vermont senator who won nearly 50 percent of the primary vote here in 2016, and also a billionaire or two.

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The race remains amazingly fluid, operatives say, making it difficult to predict how voters will lean. And despite Warren placing her national headquarters in Charlestown, other campaigns have added staff and tapped volunteers in the state, suggesting there’s little intent to cede Massachusetts’ 91 pledged delegates to the senior senator.

Then there is the wildcard that is Michael Bloomberg, the Medford native and billionaire who is pouring money and staff into Super Tuesday states. That includes Massachusetts, where his campaign says it will open about a half-dozen offices, has named a state campaign chairman — former Boston Police commissioner Edward F. Davis — and already has hired 50-plus staffers, a number that would rival what other campaigns committed to early voting states New Hampshire and Iowa. (The Globe has used Davis’s firm as a security consultant.)

“I think it’s very complicated this year. My sincere my hope is we don’t blow it,” said Judith Durant, Lowell’s Democratic city chairman and a Warren supporter who believes the Cambridge Democrat “should be able to check off Massachusetts."

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“I think we will," she said. "Things are so strange in this world right now. I don’t count on anything. I learned my lesson four years ago.”

Massachusetts is just part of the jigsaw campaigns are trying to assemble on Super Tuesday. It also will require doing some math: Candidates who clear a 15 percent threshold of the vote will capture a share of delegates in proportion to their vote totals.

That means for someone like Warren, who has generally polled ahead of the field in Massachusetts since October, not only is winning the primary important but she is looking to do so while capturing a large share of the vote.

“After Super Tuesday, it’s quickly going to become a delegate count. And the delegates in Massachusetts, you can argue, are hers to lose,” said Scott Ferson, a Democratic strategist. “How many resources does she have to throw defensively at it to make sure that a loss doesn’t happen? Winning in Massachusetts, it’s almost like the bare minimum [for her] moving forward.”

Warren’s campaign indicated it’s confident it has built the infrastructure to help carry her. It has two field offices, in Cambridge and Northampton; 12 staffers dedicated to the state; and more than 160 events scheduled between now and Super Tuesday, from door-to-door canvasses to phone banks.

Gus Bickford, the Massachusetts Democratic Party chairman, said you have to "go 10 levels down” to find the next biggest presence here.

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Michael Lanava, the Worcester Democratic city chairman and a Warren supporter, credited Representative James P. McGovern with taking the "lead in making sure we coalesce around the senator” in Central Massachusetts.

“Just in the last month, we made 150,000 calls to Massachusetts voters,” Jossie Valentin, Warren’s state field director, said in a statement. She added, in an apparent nod to Bloomberg: "While billionaires try to buy the election, we are continuing to build a grassroots movement.”

Bloomberg, who entered the field at roughly the same time former governor Deval Patrick launched his now-suspended campaign, has largely upended tradition by skipping Iowa and New Hampshire, bankrolling his own campaign, and parachuting into places farther down the political calendar: Utah, for example, and Minnesota.

And eventually, according to an adviser, his travels will bring him to Massachusetts.

“Yes, we hope multiple” times, said Will Keyser, a former aide to the late Senator Edward Kennedy and an adviser to Governor Charlie Baker who is working for Bloomberg’s campaign in Massachusetts.

Bloomberg’s campaign, though not Bloomberg himself, opened a Springfield office on Tuesday, drawing about 30 people to hear Michael Nutter, the former Philadelphia mayor and national co-chairman of Bloomberg’s campaign, tout the former New York mayor as “a doer, not a talker.”

“I think the challenge is just getting the case to voters in a relatively short period of time," Keyser said. "Thankfully, there are significant resources available to us to do that.”

Lou DiNatale, a veteran Democratic operative who has been conducting polling with former gubernatorial candidate Evan Falchuk, said Bloomberg is to be taken seriously. In a poll they released last week, Warren led the field at 23 percent, with former vice president Joe Biden at 16 percent, but it was Bloomberg, polling in fourth at 8 percent, who surprised him.

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“Out of nowhere,” DiNatale said. “Bloomberg is a disruptive factor. He might not surge to the front and stay. But he’s going to affect the race, skewing it somehow. But we don’t know how. He’s the last interesting factor.”

Other campaigns say they, too, are making Massachusetts part of their Super Tuesday push. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who won the New Hampshire primary and won 49 percent of the vote against Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Massachusetts primary, has added two full-time staffers here to complement volunteers that have run hundreds of events, his campaign said.

Pete Buttigieg, the former South Bend, Ind., mayor, has regularly raised money in Massachusetts. And Biden has tapped a deep well of support in the state, touting endorsements from former secretary of state John Kerry and Representative Seth Moulton, amid dozens of other local elected officials.

Biden last year also hired John Laadt, who ran Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s 2017 reelection campaign, to oversee his Massachusetts operations. Walsh himself has been a notable absence among elected officials who have backed a candidate, though he and Biden share a close relationship. A Walsh aide said this week that the mayor doesn’t have plans “as of now” to make an endorsement in the race.

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Bickford, the state party chairman, also said that campaigns which heavily invested in New Hampshire could shift their operation south and “in two hours, put it in Boston," should they choose.

“If we learned anything from the last week, the electorate is amazingly malleable still,” said Dan Cence, a veteran Democratic strategist who is not committed to a presidential campaign. "There are a lot of variables pulling at all of the candidates.

“It’s [Warren’s] home state. We’re all very fond of her and she polls very well here,” Cence said. “It’s just been a strange and crazy primary season to this point.”

Globe correspondent Meghan Sorensen contributed to this report.


Matt Stout can be reached at matt.stout@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mattpstout