VOA News By Chris Hannas
The competition for the Democratic presidential nomination expands significantly Tuesday with voters in 14 states casting their ballots in support of the candidate they want to oppose President Donald Trump in the November national election.
About one-third of the delegates that will be awarded during the state-by-state voting process are up for grabs Tuesday, including the biggest pot of candidates at stake in the western state of California.
After one-off contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, the so-called Super Tuesday event brings a national tone to the nomination process, with voters in western, southern, northeastern and midwestern states all taking part on the same day, along with those in the U.S. territory of American Samoa.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders leads the race with 58 pledged delegates so far. He could get a big boost from voters in California and Texas where polls showed him leading all other candidates.
The third-biggest prize Tuesday is the state of North Carolina, where polls showed Sanders in a tight battle with former Vice President Joe Biden.
Biden is fresh off a win Saturday in the primary in neighboring South Carolina, and now has earned 50 pledged delegates.
Sitting in third place in the delegate count is Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who earned all eight of hers a month ago in Iowa before a series of disappointing finishes. She is in a tight race in Massachusetts with Sanders, according to recent polls.
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar is the only other active candidate with any delegates — seven — and is expected to do well in her home state.
Besides expanding to a larger number of states, Tuesday’s voting comes at a time of change in the race.
Buttigieg, Steyer withdraw
Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg announced Sunday he was ending his campaign for president. He ascended from little-known status to win the Iowa caucuses and finish a close second place in the New Hampshire primary.
Billionaire Tom Steyer also ended his campaign after finishing in third place, with no delegates, in South Carolina where he had hoped his strongest polling could yield positive results.
In an addition to the race, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is appearing on ballots for the first time. He joined the race months after his competition and decided to skip contesting the four February states in order to focus his early campaign on Super Tuesday. The billionaire spent $400 million on a massive ad campaign targeting Super Tuesday states.
The other states holding contests Tuesday are Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont and Virginia.