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WASHINGTON — Super Tuesday has been anything but super for Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.
Voters in 14 states and one territory — including American Samoa where Gabbard was born — went to the polls Tuesday to cast their ballots for their preferred candidate to take on President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.
As the results poured in it appeared that most seem to be choosing between Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden. After the first polls closed on the East Coast, Sanders was declared the winner in Vermont and Colorado, while Biden took Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee.
Sanders would eventually go on to win California while Biden took Texas and the rest of the south, key victories needed to revitalize his campaign.
Gabbard didn’t reach 1% in most states, leaving her in last place among the main Democratic contenders.
The congresswoman did perform well in American Samoa, where she received 29.3% of the vote, which was good enough to secure her a single delegate. Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire businessman and former mayor of New York City, won the caucus there with 49.9%.
That sole delegate could mean a lot to Gabbard in the coming weeks, especially if the Democratic National Committee sticks with the same debate qualification criteria it used to grant access to the stage in South Carolina.
For a candidate to participate in that contest they either needed to meet a strict DNC polling threshold or have at least one pledged delegate coming out of the New Hampshire primary or Iowa and Nevada caucuses.
The next debate is scheduled for March 15 in Phoenix, Arizona, but the DNC has yet to announce how candidates can qualify.
Gabbard complains that her campaign is the subject of a “mounting media blackout” that’s meant to silence her calls to pull the U.S. out of foreign conflicts that she describes as regime change wars.
The congresswoman, however, barely registers in most polls and has hovered at or below 2% support nationally ever since officially announcing her candidacy in February 2019.
She’s had a handful of moments in the spotlight, and in particular after the second Democratic National Committee debate in which she delivered a series of body blows to California Sen. Kamala Harris over her record as a prosecutor.
Harris never seemed to recover and ended her once promising campaign before a single vote was cast.
Mostly, though, Gabbard has had to grapple with her past, whether it was her attacks on the LGBTQ community in the early 2000s, her secret visit with Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad, who many consider a murderous dictator, or her ties to the Science of Identity Foundation, a fringe sect of Hare Krishna based in Hawaii that many describe as a cult.
Gabbard is one of the least popular candidates in the 2020 field, according to surveys conducted by Morning Consult.
In a poll from late February, nearly one in three Democratic primary voters — or 30% — said they have an unfavorable view of Gabbard, which is second only to former New York City mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who once identified as a Republican.
The results in the early primary and caucus states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina have reflected Gabbard’s consistently low polls numbers.
Her best performance came in New Hampshire, where she received 3.3% of the vote, which left her in seventh place behind candidates such as former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg (24.4%), Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (19.8%) and billionaire businessman Tom Steyer (3.6%), all of whom have since dropped out.
Gabbard’s campaign has shown no signs of giving up, and in fundraising emails has pleaded with her supporters to keep sending money so that the congresswoman can keep her political ambitions afloat.
With almost no discernible pathway to the nomination, there’s been much speculation about Gabbard’s political future, especially since she said she will not run for re-election in Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District.
Some have questioned whether she’s hoping to pivot into punditry by becoming a regular contributor to CNN, MSNBC or Fox News while others have asked whether she would consider being a running mate of Sanders, who Gabbard endorsed in 2016 over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The congresswoman has also repeatedly batted down rumors she would run as a third-party candidate.
John Hart, who’s the chairman of the communication department at Hawaii Pacific University, said he doesn’t see Gabbard dropping out anytime soon.
The congresswoman has repeatedly pledged she would stay in the race until Democratic National Convention in July.
“From the get go it seemed like she was going to stay in this no matter what, so clearly that’s still the strategy here,” Hart said. “Bernie still has a chance, which means she still has a chance to be his VP so why not. She’s always played the long ball.”
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