The dysfunctional GOP race may be unfolding like a dream for journalists, pundits and political junkies, but meanwhile the Democratic primaries are unfolding exactly like a primary season is supposed to unfold.
A well-positioned front-runner is being challenged by an insurgent candidate who is running a campaign based on ideology, not hubris. Even if Sen. Bernie Sanders does not accrue enough delegates in the Super Tuesday sweepstakes, his candidacy has helped define the agenda, moved both the party and the front-runner to embrace serious proposals to help level the economic playing field, and energized a significant portion of the Democratic base.
Despite Sanders' success overall, this Super Tuesday was — as expected — a huge night for Hillary Clinton. Clinton won at least six states and will likely pick up delegates in states that Sanders carried like Oklahoma.
Clinton hasn't locked up the nomination, but she is locked into a groove that should get her there, barring any unforeseen circumstances. The demographics of Super Tuesday favored Clinton.
The night was rich in states with large diverse populations including African-American populations in states like Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia and Arkansas, and once more they came through for her in truly impressive numbers. She did well in more states than Sanders, and the states she did well in were the larger states. From here on out it will be a matter of steadily accumulating delegates, more than winning states.
And although Super Tuesday was significantly less than super for Bernie Sanders, things could improve for him going forward. The upcoming states have more of the white liberal voters who have flocked to him. And Sanders' fundraising has been by far the best of any candidate, meaning that he will have plenty of money as long as he can keep winning enough delegates to deny Clinton a clinch of the nomination. But it remains to be seen if Sanders' big Super Tuesday losses will make voters question his electability.
Both Hillary and Bernie would do well to ignore the raucous action taking place in the Republican race and focus on winning the hearts and minds of Democrats (while of course having their strategists making detailed plans for any contingency regarding the outcome in the GOP).
The sound and fury of the Donald Trump phenomenon have excited the Republican base, leading to record turnout in virtually every state. Meanwhile, Democratic turnout is well below the numbers from 2008.
Part of that is the relative lack of spectacle: The Democratic race has been quite polite compared to the Republican contest, but then most hockey fights are quite polite compared to this Republican contest. Still, the Democratic nominee will have to close the enthusiasm gap, and they can best do that by not pivoting too soon, and concentrating on Democratic voters for now.