Think of it as Super Postponed Day.
June 2 had been an afterthought on the Democratic primary calendar. Ever since Joe Biden seized the mantle of front-runner, voters in New Jersey and a few other states scheduled to vote that day assumed the Democratic horse race would be over before their primaries rolled around.
But with numerous states pushing back voting to June 2 because of the coronavirus pandemic, the date has gained sudden prominence. It now confers a huge bounty of delegates, second only to Super Tuesday in early March, with Indiana, Pennsylvania, and others now moving to hold their primaries June 2.
Although Biden has built an all but insurmountable lead, June 2 — which is 10 weeks away — will be his first chance to clinch the presidential nomination. Only then would the former vice president have a definitive reason to press for the withdrawal of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who has shown no inclination to leave the race.
Some Democratic strategists see possible perils in the delay. Having to wait until June 2 for the next major chapter in the nominating race largely deprives Biden of a chance to rack up interim victories that would bring media attention. President Trump, meanwhile, is promoting his leadership in a global pandemic. A Monmouth University Poll on Tuesday showed Biden with a 3-point lead over Trump among registered voters nationally, 48 percent to 45 percent, an edge the pollsters called “negligible.”
As the Democratic nominee-in-waiting, Biden may simply have to wait longer.
“This idea apparently being floated by the Sanders campaign that Bernie can stay in the race and accumulate delegates without harming Biden’s chances of winning in November is delusional,” said J.J. Balaban, a Democratic strategist in Pennsylvania. The lengthy pause in the primary and Sanders’s reluctance to step aside are distractions, Balaban said, from the need for Democrats to refocus on the general election race, in which Trump has a head start raising money and coalescing supporters.
Michael Soliman, a Democratic strategist in New Jersey, said the delay might not be all bad if it concentrates the minds of voters on the need for change in the White House.
“As this crisis causes more states to push back their primaries, New Jersey voters will not only be reminded about the need for strong and steady leadership, but they will finally be in a position to play a meaningful role in securing the nomination for Joe Biden,” he said.
On Tuesday, Delaware became the latest state to move its primary, originally scheduled for April 28, to June 2 under an executive order by Governor John Carney.
Pennsylvania’s Legislature is advancing a bipartisan bill to likewise reschedule the state’s primary from April 28 to June 2, which Governor Tom Wolf is expected to sign by the end of the week.
Delaware and Pennsylvania would bring to six the number of states to move primaries to June 2, including Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland, and Rhode Island. They join the five primaries scheduled that day: New Jersey, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota, and the District of Columbia.
Ohio, which canceled its primary scheduled for March 17 because of the coronavirus, also has its sights on June 2. The date is a week before the June 9 deadline that the Democratic National Committee set for states to hold primaries.