Quick crash course on Dem primaries: While GOP primaries occasionally utilized a 'Winner Take All' system as they did in 2016 that awards all delegates to whoever wins the state overall in a primary, Dem's always use a 'Proportional Allocation' system in primary contests. In this system, the number of delegates that are up for grabs for a state are divided among candidates based on how well they poll in the state during the time of the vote. If the top candidates get 28%, 22%, and 17% of the vote from voters, then they get 28%, 22%, and 17% of delegates in the state accordingly..... Both systems have advantages and disadvantages, but the key detail for Proportional Allocation is the cut-off line. After a certain percentage, any candidate who falls below that line and fails to get a certain percentage of the vote fails to qualify for ANY delegates, due to general irrelevancy.
Up to this point, I was under the assumption that the cutoff line for the Dem Primaries was around 10% at most due to the number of candidates in the field. It turns out though that the cutoff is at 15% https://www.270towin.com/content/thresholds-for-delegate-allocation-2020-democratic-primary-and-caucus
This is a MASSIVE fucking problem for Sanders, and it considerably fucks Warren as well...... Warren and Biden can hit 15% in just about any state in their sleep, but Sanders on the other hand has struggled in many early contests to get past 15% based on polling. Of the first four primaries in the Dem presidential primary (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina), Sanders only hits north of 15% in ONE of those states, and its not even the state you think it would be.
In Iowa, 3 polls had Sanders at an average of 12%, with one poll putting Sanders at 16% max, a hair above the 15% threshold needed to get delegates: https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2020/president/ia/iowa_democratic_presidential_caucus-6731.html
In New Hampshire, the two most recent polls indicate Sanders has hemorrhaged half of his entire support in the state to Warren, and is now down to about 11.5% support if both recent polls prove to be accurate: https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2020/president/nh/new_hampshire_democratic_presidential_primary-6276.html
In South Carolina, Sanders can barely hit 10% total, let alone 15%, making is almost assured he will walk out of the state empty-handed: https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2020/president/sc/south_carolina_democratic_presidential_primary-6824.html
Only in Nevada does Sanders poll north of the 15% threshold needed to win delegates within the state. Recent polls put him at 14% and 22%, with an earlier poll from a month ago having him near 29%... Regardless of where his support truly lies, its safe to assume its somewhere in the high teens above 15% for now: https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2020/president/nv/nevada_democratic_presidential_caucus-6866.html
Because you need 15% to win delegates in a Dem Primary, and because Sanders only regularly polls above 15% in Nevada due to the recent downslides he's suffering, it's quite possible that Sanders does not win a single delegate from 3 of the first 4 presidential primaries in the contest.
If he stays below 15% early on, it could effect his level of turnout later on, (Sanders supporters might begin to reconsider their support if it appears that Sanders cant even win delegates, let alone the entire primary, and flip their support elsewhere) but it could effect Warren in a massively negative fashion as well
Prevailing belief up to this point, which included myself, was that if there was a contested nomination where no Dem candidate gets an outright majority, Sanders as the likely 3rd place finisher would choose to support Warren over Biden, and give her enough votes to make her the nominee. This assumption though was based off the idea that Sanders would have a good chunk of delegates he won from the primaries to transfer in the first place.... But because primary rules require a hefty 15% support in a state to win delegates though, Sanders may not have a large enough faction to swing a contested primary at the very end to begin with, or even get enough delegates to force a contested election and someone instead wins an outright majority.
That effects Warrens odds in the long term, Here's where it impacts Warren in the short term though.... Warren and Sanders share a lot of the same base, the more leftist wing of the democratic party. Up to this point, it was believed that any voters Sanders siphons away from Warren would cause her to lose delegates to Sanders. If they split enough of of the liberal wing, then Biden could walk away with the primary. That was the prevailing theory a lot of people bought into.
But now, if Sanders isn't even GETTING delegates, then that means that left wing voters are not just splitting delegates between Warren and Sanders. Instead they're actively throwing away their votes since every vote in support of Sanders equates to zero delegates won because of the requirement is 15% to win delegates of a state. For every state primary where Sanders keeps left-wing voters from Warren, and also fails to hit 15%, thats free delegates that goes to Biden without him even having to do anything. Naturally, this MASSIVELY benefits Biden, because now delegates that could be won by Sanders or Warren are essentially disappearing into thin air, rather than being split between the candidates to possibly be combined later on.