NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020

Joe Biden’s campaign picks up momentum as Super Tuesday voters go to the polls

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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2 Pings

  1. […] after a con­vinc­ing vic­to­ry in South Car­oli­na on Sat­ur­day, Biden began a remark­able surge. With­in hours of his win, two of his oppo­nents – Sen­a­tor Amy Klobuchar and May­or Pete […]

  2. […] of the race to endorse for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden in what has been wide­ly seen as a par­ty estab­lish­ment effort to deny the nom­i­na­tion to Bernie Sanders – a self-declared demo­c­ra­t­ic social­ist […]