Super Tuesday is still more than a week away, but almost 2 million ballots have already been cast – including in delegate-rich California and Texas.
More than 1.3 million vote-by-mail ballots have been returned in California since February 3, according to county data provided by Sam Mahood, a spokesman for Secretary of State Alex Padilla. That’s out of more than 16 million ballots sent out – a flood that allows the vast majority of the state’s more than 20 million registered voters to cast their ballots before March 3.
“The California presidential primary may be on Super Tuesday, but for millions of Californians, it is really Super February,” Padilla said in a news release earlier this month.
California, with 494 delegates at stake – the most of any single state – has taken on new prominence this year after moving its primary date up in the calendar. Democratic candidates need 1,991 to clinch the nomination.
The other big delegate haul up for grabs on Super Tuesday is Texas, with 261 delegates. Almost half a million ballots have already been cast since early and by-mail voting opened on February 18, according to the secretary of state’s office. Texas has more than 16 million registered voters.
In recent weeks, Democratic campaigns have been beefing up their presence in the state hoping to win over voters in the big cities of Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, according to the Texas Tribune.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has upended the traditional rhythm of the campaign by skipping early voting states and focusing his resources, underwritten by his vast personal fortune, in Texas and in California, where the previous June primary often relegated the state to afterthought status.
Two polls released this week in California show Bernie Sanders holding a comfortable lead. The latest poll from The Public Policy Institute of California, released on Tuesday, shows Sanders ahead at 32%, with Joe Biden (14%), Elizabeth Warren (13%), Pete Buttigieg (12%) and Michael Bloomberg (12%) closely knotted in a race for second. Amy Klobuchar stood at 5% in that poll, with Tom Steyer at 3% and Tulsi Gabbard at 1%.
Monmouth University also released a California poll this week. Their poll finds Sanders leading with 24%, Biden at 17%, Bloomberg at 13%, Warren at 10% and Buttigieg at 9%. Behind them, Steyer (5%) and Klobuchar (4%) were about even, with Gabbard at 2%.
Hundreds of thousands of ballots have also been returned in other Super Tuesday states, including Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont and Virginia.
CNN’s Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this story.