Joe Biden vs. Bernie Sanders
Joe Biden vs. Bernie Sanders

For­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden’s cam­paign for the White House has under­gone a dra­mat­ic trans­for­ma­tion in the past few days; after dis­ap­point­ing per­for­mances in the Iowa cau­cus­es, New Hamp­shire pri­ma­ry and Neva­da cau­cus­es, a con­vinc­ing win in South Car­oli­na prompt­ed a big coa­lesc­ing of for­mer rivals and elect­ed offi­cials in the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty behind his can­di­da­cy, which led to a Super Tues­day result that made Biden the undis­put­ed frontrunner.

Across the coun­try, Biden is now rely­ing heav­i­ly on endorse­ments to con­tin­ue his cam­paign’s surge of momen­tum, and it seems to be working.

In recent days, a flood of promi­nent state polit­i­cal fig­ures and insti­tu­tions have stepped for­ward to endorse Biden. The list includes The Seat­tle Times, Seattle’s May­or Jen­ny Durkan, for­mer Gov­er­nor Chris­tine Gre­goire, and for­mer Gov­er­nor Gary Locke. Biden is also backed by a num­ber of cur­rent and for­mer city coun­cil mem­bers and state rep­re­sen­ta­tives from across the Ever­green State.

The effects of the sud­den Biden surge have had a dra­mat­ic impact on the race. A month and a half ago, a Sur­veyUSA poll indi­cat­ed that Vermont’s Sen­a­tor Bernie Sanders had a five-point lead over the for­mer Vice President.

This week, Sur­veyUSA released a poll that showed the two can­di­dates in a sta­tis­ti­cal dead heat – Biden (at 36%) led Sanders (35%) by one point, less than the mar­gin of error. With no indi­ca­tion that the flow of endorse­ments is going to dry up between now and the state’s pri­ma­ry on Tues­day, the Biden cam­paign might feel con­fi­dent that they can eke out anoth­er victory.

But Sanders won Wash­ing­ton State four years ago, and his cam­paign has an incred­i­bly strong oper­a­tion here, led by Carin Chase. Sanders vol­un­teers are fer­vent­ly can­vass­ing, text-bank­ing, and phone-bank­ing this week­end, and that will help get out the vote for Bernie. Sanders’ cam­paign will be hop­ing to pick up as many Eliz­a­beth War­ren sup­port­ers as pos­si­ble now that she’s out.

It is impor­tant to note that Sur­veyUSA’s poll was con­duct­ed between March 4th and March 6th, with the over­whelm­ing major­i­ty of inter­views con­duct­ed before news had spread that Sen­a­tor Eliz­a­beth War­ren had dropped out of the race.

The senior Unit­ed States Sen­a­tor from Mass­a­chu­setts gar­nered 10% sup­port in the poll, under the thresh­old for via­bil­i­ty, which is fif­teen percent.

Warren’s coali­tion of sup­port spreads across the divide between Biden and Sanders – they are very lib­er­al and most­ly white (which helps Sanders), but War­ren made a point of being con­cil­ia­to­ry towards the party’s estab­lish­ment, and her sup­port­ers often com­plained about the acri­mo­ny with which Sanders sup­port­ers treat­ed them online (which might help Biden).

Many War­ren sup­port­ers have already vot­ed, thanks to Washington’s vote-at-home bal­lot­ing sys­tem, so their votes can­not be reallocated.

Giv­en how flu­id and fast-mov­ing this nom­i­nat­ing con­test, it’s hard to say what effect War­ren’s with­draw­al will have. But it’s plau­si­ble that peo­ple who were lean­ing War­ren or pro-War­ren but had­n’t vot­ed pri­or to Thurs­day will splin­ter, with some War­ren sup­port­ers going to Biden and some going to Sanders.

That makes Tues­day’s pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry all the more excit­ing. It could be a very close con­test between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.

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