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.