CLEVELAND, Ohio—Bernie Sanders traveled to Cleveland on Monday for his first event in Ohio, which holds its primary on March 15. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton spent Tuesday in Texas and heads Friday to Tennessee, two states that vote on March 1.
It’s not just about Iowa and New Hampshire anymore.
With less than three months until the first votes are cast in the Democratic primary, Sanders and Clinton are still focusing the bulk of their organizing efforts on the four first-in-the-nation states. But the two leading Democratic presidential campaigns are actively thinking beyond them, too—and are slowly starting to mobilize in the states that cast their votes in the month of March.
Once the early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina vote, the calendar quickly picks up: 28 states are slated to vote in March, including 11 on Super Tuesday (March 1) alone. That means that more than half of the 4,000-plus pledged delegates for the primary will be accounted for by the end of the month.
For Clinton, a strong showing in the first several weeks of March could put her over the top in delegates for the nomination, or at least make it clear that she has an insurmountable lead. If she struggles in Iowa or New Hampshire, the diverse, delegate-rich states serve as a firewall that would allow her to get momentum back. And for Sanders, March is his only chance to prove that the grassroots enthusiasm that has drawn big crowds and fueled his fundraising success can be turned into a real volunteer operation outside of just the early states.