Joe Biden declares for President
Joe Biden declares for President

Amer­i­can pol­i­tics has gone through a dra­mat­ic week.

Fol­low­ing for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden’s game-chang­ing vic­to­ry in South Car­oli­na, two of his rival pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates – May­or Pete Buttigieg and Sen­a­tor Amy Klobuchar – dropped out of the race with­in hours of each other.

Joe Biden projected to win South Carolina
Joe Biden won South Carolina

Buttigieg and Klobuchar both rapid­ly fol­lowed up their with­draw­al from the race by endors­ing Biden’s can­di­da­cy.

Their endorse­ments were only two out of of a flood of major fig­ures in the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty who have come for­ward in the past few days to endorse Barack Obama’s for­mer right-hand man. The endorse­ments include anoth­er for­mer pres­i­den­tial con­tender, Beto O’Rourke, who dropped out in Novem­ber.

More impor­tant for Biden than win­ning over his for­mer rivals is the slew of cur­rent and for­mer may­ors, sen­a­tors and rep­re­sen­ta­tives who have ral­lied to his ban­ner in the past few days. The most impor­tant of these law­mak­ers is arguably Har­ry Reid, the for­mer sen­a­tor from Neva­da, Sen­ate major­i­ty leader and Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty pow­er bro­ker. Oth­er endorse­ments come from impor­tant par­ty fig­ures in a vari­ety of key states, par­tic­u­lar­ly Cal­i­for­nia and Texas.

Tak­en togeth­er, these events appear to be a sign that the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Party’s estab­lish­ment has final­ly decid­ed to throw their full weight behind Biden.

While Biden is a well-known and well-liked fig­ure in Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty, this coa­lesc­ing of the par­ty estab­lish­ment has less to do with Biden him­self than with his chief com­peti­tor: Bernie Sanders, the social­ist U.S. sen­a­tor from Vermont.

Sanders’ unortho­dox cam­paign has unnerved the par­ty estab­lish­ment from the begin­ning with its reliance on small-dol­lar donors and pow­er­ful (not to men­tion hard-to-cor­ral) grass­roots movement.

Sanders also annoyed the Demo­c­ra­t­ic estab­lish­ment dur­ing his 2016 pri­ma­ry run against Hillary Clin­ton. Many pow­er­ful fig­ures with­in the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty are quite open about their dis­com­fort at the idea of Sanders becom­ing the face of the par­ty – even as the Democ­ratic Par­ty’s base of young peo­ple, pro­gres­sives, and minor­i­ty vot­ers are enthu­si­as­tic about his candidacy.

The tim­ing of the establishment’s con­sol­i­da­tion behind Biden is par­tic­u­lar­ly telling. Klobuchar and Buttigieg’s exit from the race came mere hours before vot­ing start­ed on the most impor­tant day of the pri­ma­ry cycle, Super Tues­day.

With more Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers poten­tial­ly unit­ed behind Biden, Sanders faces a much greater strug­gle to win crit­i­cal states such as Texas.

Before Mon­day, polls sug­gest­ed that the Sanders cam­paign would come out of Super Tues­day with a clear vic­to­ry. But now Biden is like­ly to do much better.

Sanders is prob­a­bly not helped by the fact Sen­a­tor Eliz­a­beth War­ren of Mass­a­chu­setts remains in the race. Although War­ren has had less elec­toral suc­cess than she was expect­ed to dur­ing the fall (she has yet to win a sin­gle state), she and her staff have said she still sees a path to victory.

The neolib­er­al wing of the par­ty is not entire­ly uni­fied yet, however.

Michael Bloomberg — the for­mer Repub­li­can May­or of New York and self-pro­claimed, self-appoint­ed Demo­c­ra­t­ic sav­ior — has spent hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars from his per­son­al for­tune in the Super Tues­day states.

Bloomberg’s influ­ence has so far been untest­ed, as he entered the pri­ma­ry too late to be on the bal­lot in the first four states to vote.

Bloomberg’s cam­paign strat­e­gy has been sim­ple – spend, spend, spend. More specif­i­cal­ly, he has flood­ed the air­waves with adver­tise­ments tar­get­ing Super Tues­day vot­ers. Biden’s cam­paign has suf­fered from cash flow prob­lems for months and Bloomberg’s monop­oly in the adver­tis­ing mar­ket has the most effect on old­er bicon­cep­tu­al vot­ers – exact­ly the kinds of vot­ers Biden is seek­ing to win.

Mean­while, Bernie Sanders’ per­for­mances in ear­ly states, par­tic­u­lar­ly Neva­da, show that his coali­tion of sup­port­ers are deter­mined, ener­gized, and high­ly orga­nized, mak­ing the Ver­mont social­ist a for­mi­da­ble force to stand against.

Biden’s cam­paign has def­i­nite­ly been reju­ve­nat­ed by the South Car­oli­na Demo­c­ra­t­ic pri­ma­ry. But he has many obsta­cles to over­come if he wants to secure the nom­i­na­tion before the 2020 Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion in Milwaukee.

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