This is Round 53, and I’m Karen Tumulty. Overwhelmed by South Carolina chatter? Let me heap some Super Tuesday on your plates.

The Commentary

When Sen. Bernie Sanders ran for president the first time four years ago, he got a surprising bit of counsel from one of his most conservative Senate colleagues. Oklahoma Republican Jim Inhofe told Sanders, a socialist, that he should invest big in the Democratic primary in Inhofe’s deep-red state.

The reason? To still identify as a Democrat in Oklahoma, one has to be pretty liberal.

Sanders took the advice. During the week before the 2016 Super Tuesday contests, he made two visits to the Sooner State. On primary day, he trounced former secretary of state Hillary Clinton in Oklahoma — a state Democrats didn’t have a prayer of carrying in November — by more than 10 percentage points.

Next Tuesday, as the Democratic presidential contest spreads across the map, all of the contenders will be looking for opportunities to build their delegate totals, and not all of them will be in the most obvious places.

Fourteen states and one U.S. territory will hold their votes, with 1,357 pledged convention delegates — roughly a third of the total — up for grabs. While most of the attention will be on the big troves of delegates to be allocated in California and Texas, it’s worth keeping an eye on states whose contests generally go under the radar. Among them is Oklahoma, which will be sending more than three dozen pledged delegates to this summer’s Democratic convention in Milwaukee.

Even as voters are going to the polls in South Carolina on Saturday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren will be in Little Rock and Houston. Meanwhile, Sanders will be in Warren’s home state of Massachusetts. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is scheduled to be in Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina.

With the exception of former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg, who has more money than he could possibly spend, the candidates are now in a situation where decisions on how to allocate time and resources will be crucial — and telling of their theories about the best path forward.

— Karen Tumulty

The Ranking

Don’t forget to click on the chart’s yellow highlighted text to see the rest of the Ranking Committee’s annotations.

Position
Challenger
Change Over Last Ranking
1.
Bernie Sanders
2.
Joe Biden
UP 2
3.
Mike Bloomberg
DOWN 1
4.
Pete Buttigieg
DOWN 1
5.
Elizabeth Warren
6.
Amy Klobuchar

Also receiving votes: Tom Steyer, Hillary Clinton and Sherrod Brown

From the Annotations

Buttigieg continues to reveal himself to be the oldest young person America has ever seen, railing against the “revolution politics of the ’60s” during the South Carolina debate. These stylings may comfort some voters, but they leave many others cold.
Christine Emba, on Pete Buttigieg
Biden’s polls seem to be holding up in South Carolina. The problem for him is that Super Tuesday comes just three days afterward, which is not a whole lot of time to parlay a win there into real momentum.
Megan McArdle, on Joe Biden

Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments. We’ll see you for the next ranking. Until then, keep an eye on the Okies. Or maybe Mainers. American Samoa? It’s Super Tuesday — anything can happen.

Read more on 2020:

Opinion
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