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.

Wednesday, March 4th, 2020

Super Tuesday fallout: The 2020 Democratic presidential contest is now a two-person race

On Tues­day, mil­lions of vot­ers in four­teen states went to the polls in the most impor­tant day of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry.

Although results are still com­ing in, for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden has emerged as the clear vic­tor, win­ning nine states, expand­ing his coali­tion of vot­ers, and mak­ing the most dra­mat­ic elec­toral come­back in decades.

At the start of last week, Biden’s cam­paign appeared to be on the verge of col­lapse; in the after­math of ter­ri­ble results from Iowa, New Hamp­shire, and Neva­da, Biden was fac­ing grave doubts about the via­bil­i­ty of his can­di­da­cy.

Vice President Joe Biden

Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden was the big Super Tues­day win­ner.

How­ev­er, 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 Buttigieg – dropped out of the race and endorsed him. This news came amidst a flood of endorse­ments from influ­en­tial Demo­c­ra­t­ic fig­ures across the coun­try, and togeth­er con­sti­tut­ed a clear sign that many in the par­ty had final­ly decid­ed to unite behind Barack Obama’s gov­ern­ing part­ner.

The sud­den move­ment to coa­lesce around Biden was prompt­ed in part by the suc­cess of Bernie Sanders in the ear­li­er nom­i­nat­ing con­test.

The U.S. Sen­a­tor from Ver­mont emerged as the clear frontrun­ner in late Feb­ru­ary, after win­ning the pop­u­lar vote in Iowa, the New Hamp­shire pri­ma­ry and the Neva­da cau­cus­es, and is per­ceived by many in Demo­c­ra­t­ic cir­cles to be a risky choice for the nom­i­na­tion — in part because Sanders does­n’t even iden­ti­fy as a Demo­c­rat and has not iden­ti­fied strate­gies for enact­ing his ideas.

It took a while for the forces with­in the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty that don’t want Sanders to coa­lesce behind Biden, but Sanders’ repeat­ed vic­to­ry forced their hand, as it became clear that Sanders had the poten­tial to win all fifty states.

The long-expec­t­ed con­sol­i­da­tion of the par­tial­ly pro­gres­sive wing of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty in sup­port of a cred­i­ble alter­na­tive to Sanders has seri­ous­ly jeop­ar­dized his prospects of win­ning the nom­i­na­tion.

Biden was pre­dict­ed to do well in more con­ser­v­a­tive regions of the coun­try like the South and Mid­west, but endorse­ments from his for­mer rivals Beto O’Rourke and Amy Klobuchar pushed him to unex­pect­ed wins in Texas and Min­neso­ta.

Biden even pulled off a shock win in Mass­a­chu­setts, despite Sanders’ fer­vent cam­paign­ing in the state. His win in the Bay State showed that he has added lib­er­al, col­lege-edu­­cat­ed white vot­ers to his base of sup­port.

How­ev­er, Sanders’ own coali­tion of sup­port­ers – Lati­nos, young peo­ple, and lib­er­als – helped him pre­vail in the vital­ly impor­tant Moun­tain West.

As well as his home state of Ver­mont, Sanders won in Utah, Col­orado, and – most impor­tant­ly – Cal­i­for­nia, the biggest prize of the night.

Bernie Sanders on the stump

Sen­a­tor Bernie Sanders speaks at the Taco­ma Dome on Pres­i­dents Day 2020 (Pho­to: Ren­nie Sawade/NPI)

The results of Super Tues­day leave no room for doubt that the Demo­c­ra­t­ic pri­ma­ry is now a two-horse race between Biden and Sanders.

The day’s results for the oth­er remain­ing can­di­dates were dis­mal.

For­mer May­or Michael Bloomberg had lit­er­al­ly staked hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars on Super Tues­day and has noth­ing to show for it (it turns out that it is eas­i­er to buy politi­cians than it is to buy elec­tions).

Sen­a­tor Eliz­a­beth War­ren – who was briefly con­sid­ered the Demo­c­ra­t­ic fron­trun­ner back in the autumn – did not even win her home state of Mass­a­chu­setts.

These can­di­dates – espe­cial­ly War­ren – will now face rapid­ly increas­ing pres­sure to drop out of the race in favor of one of the two fron­trun­ners. Michael Bloomberg has already dropped his White House bid and has pledged to sup­port Biden.

The field now con­sists of two can­di­dates, who are stark­ly dif­fer­ent from one anoth­er. The 2016 nom­i­nat­ing con­test – which was expect­ed ini­tial­ly by many pun­dits to be a cake­walk for Hillary Clin­ton – turned into a bit­ter brawl between her and Sanders’ under­dog cam­paign, with Clin­ton even­tu­al­ly com­ing out on top thanks to her sup­port in key regions like the South.

Clin­ton was also the estab­lish­men­t’s choice in 2008, but was unex­pect­ed­ly beat­en by Unit­ed States Sen­a­tor Barack Oba­ma, who gal­va­nized a pro­gres­sive grass­roots move­ment much like the one Bernie Sanders is try­ing to build now.

The Super Tues­day results have remind­ed us that pol­i­tics can be unpre­dictable. Next Tues­day, we’ll have more results that will fur­ther illu­mi­nate the tra­jec­to­ry of Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, includ­ing data from two Pacif­ic North­west states: Wash­ing­ton and Ida­ho. Both are hold­ing pres­i­den­tial pri­maries on March 10th.

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One Comment

  1. Not the result I was expect­ing!

    # by Lester Dyson :: March 7th, 2020 at 4:55 AM