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Super Tuesday: American Samoa Democratic Presidential Caucus Results and Third Party Implications

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent from 2007 until last year, won the American Samoa Democratic Presidential Caucus on Super Tuesday.  He received 175 votes or 49.9 percent of the total, entitling him to four of the territory’s six delegates to the Democratic National Convention.  The remaining two delegates went to the second place finisher, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who earned 103 votes or 29.3 percent of the total.

With Bloomberg dropping out of the Democratic race Wednesday after failing to win any other Super Tuesday contests, Gabbard is one of only three remaining mainstream Democratic presidential candidates along with former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.  While Gabbard, who has been shut out of recent debates, only has the two delegates she gained from American Samoa, according to the Associated Press, Biden currently has 664 delegates and Sanders has 573.

Despite the large discrepancy in delegates, Gabbard may perform well in a few upcoming contests.  As a Pacific Islander, she is in good position ahead of next Saturday’s Northern Mariana Islands Caucus with six delegates up for grabs.  Her homestate holds a primary on April 4 with 22 delegates at stake. And the Guam Caucus on May 2 has six delegates up for grabs.  However, according to elections expert Richard Winger at Ballot Access News, “Guam voters always go for the mainstream candidate.”  Thus, Gabbard may only be able to rely on the Northern Mariana Islands and Hawaii for delegates, leaving her far short of the 1,991 required for the nomination.

But don’t expect Gabbard to drop out any time soon.  She is not running for re-election to Congress.  And after 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton suggested Gabbard (in addition to 2012 and 2016 Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein), is a Russian asset, she does not have much political capital left to lose in the Democratic Party.  Plus, if Gabbard runs as an Independent or third party candidate, sore loser laws would prevent her from appearing on several general election ballots (16 states according to petitioner Andy Jacobs at Ballot Access News).  Still, she has repeatedly affirmed she will not run as a third party candidate and that she will support the eventual Democratic nominee this cycle.

However, that does not exclude her from making a future independent or third party run.  Such a run might be the best way for the outsider and anti-establishment Gabbard to make an impact in presidential electoral politics.

As Casual Observer notes at Ballot Access News the Green Party may be the best fit for Gabbard as a presidential candidate in 2024.  She is fiercely anti-war, supports a ban on fracking, and believes in the “carbon neutrality goals” of the Green New Deal, although she doesn’t believe it adequately deals with the problem of nuclear waste.