Just over two weeks ago after the Nevada caucuses where he came in fifth, Joe Biden’s campaign was considered over and Bernie Sanders was deemed to be the overwhelming favorite to win the Democratic nomination, causing panic in the party establishment’s ranks. But Biden’s emphatic win in South Carolina the following week enabled the Democratic party establishment to achieve what they long sought and that is to coalesce behind him and that seems to have paid off on Super Tuesday with Biden doing so well that he has overtaken Sanders in the delegate totals. He now has 467 delegates and Sanders has 392 so far though the totals will change as more results come in from yesterday’s polls. You need 1990 delegates to win on the first ballot.
I am of course very disappointed that Sanders did not do better. His win in California, the biggest state in terms of delegates was the one bright spot in the results. But another good result is that Michael Bloomberg’s vast spending on the election does not seem to have brought him the results he sought, despite buying endorsements from state and local elected officials and hiring top Democratic party officials in Texas and California. He announced today that he would drop out of the race.
His strategy had been to get enough delegates that would deny Sanders a majority on the first ballot and then use his money to buy over delegates in a brokered convention. He managed to come in second in California and third in seven states, and exceeded the 15% threshold to qualify for delegates in five of them but got nowhere near the number of delegates that would make him a significant player in any negotiations. His $500 million spending netted him 44 delegates, or more than $10 million per delegate. I guess the Beatles were right when they sang that money can’t buy you love.
I know that I said that I would vote for any Democratic nominee because, like so many people, I desperately want to get rid of Trump. But if Bloomberg had become the nominee, I seriously ran the risk of throwing up in the voting booth. I am pretty certain that many people would simply refuse to vote for him, even if they hate Trump. One thing that a Bloomberg-Trump election would have done is reveal to the world that the US is an oligarchy, a reality that is currently hidden behind a democratic veneer.
Where this leaves Elizabeth Warren is not clear. She got third place finishes in just five states including her home state of Massachusetts, and qualified for delegates in just three of them, worse that Bloomberg. She says that she is assessing her path forward, usually a prelude to dropping out.
One has to also wonder about those people who voted for candidates who had dropped out of the race. In California, for example, Pete Buttigieg got 11% of the vote. Did they not know he had dropped out? Were they sending some kind of message of loyalty to their candidate? I doubt that these could be all early voting ballots, cast before he had left, since I thought these ballots are added in at the end of the process, though I could be wrong.
What is the cause of Biden’s sudden rise in popularity? That is something that I don’t understand. The idea that his big win in South Carolina suddenly made people give him a second look and decide that they like him seems a little too facile, though early reports suggest that he won big among those who made their decision in the last day or two. It will be interesting to see what the post-election analyses of voters’ intentions reveal.
Now the race moves on to the other states where the contests are somewhat more spread out, starting with six next Tuesday.
consciousness razor says
It’s not the result in SC itself, which isn’t representative and isn’t a “blue” or “swing” state anyway.
It’s the big media/political blitz that everyone was served. It finally became clear which direction the herd was moving (off a cliff).
No doubt many were still in deep denial about Pete and Amy’s chances. They had to be presented those facts, while making sure that no facts about Biden’s platform/record would slip through and confuse them. This is not a hard sell to make, when they are all pushing it.
Chris J says
My own guess with Biden goes way back to the beginning of the primary race. I was wondering why Biden was so popular, given that we had fresh(er) faces available and given that just the prior election Biden seemed to be slowly bowing out of politics.Then I read or saw somewhere that Biden is popular literally by name recognition alone. Everyone, even the most politically disconnected, had at least heard the name, and that played a huge role in his early polling popularity.
I believe Biden is popular because he’s well known and has been for a long time. I also believe tons of Democrats that might be more involved in the primary process haven’t been due to just how start the choice will be in November no matter who the Democrats nominate. I know I haven’t been watching any of the debates… I quickly settled on supporting Warren first and Sanders second long before any of the primaries. I’d imagine Biden’s strong showing this Super Tuesday was basically baked in and the narratives about campaigns losing or gaining momentum were nonsense, and not enough Democrats care enough to pick a candidate beyond name recognition.
This is also why I think Sanders has done so well, and why Warren has struggled. Sanders ran in the previous election and gathered a massive following that’s been advocating for him for years. Warren has not.
Porivil Sorrens says
The fact that all of his centrist opponents dropped out and endorsed him less than a week before super tuesday certainly lent him an air of approval among the establishment base. After all, if all these disparate candidates unite behind him, he must be some kind of super-candidate, and not a sundowning spongebrain that can barely say a single cohesive sentence without bursting a blood vessel or sniffing a random audience-goer’s hair.
Steve Cameron says
There are a lot of moderate (read : older) Democrat voters who have been wary of Sanders since 2016, despite all the polling and debate performances that show he’d be a strong candidate. In their lifetime — even very recently — “socialist” and “communist” have been effective smears used by Republicans against otherwise strong contenders, so a candidate who embraces one of those labels (and fits the other one more that most) is a scary and disheartening proposition. Once Joe won South Carolina and, more importantly, Buttigieg and Klobuchar dropped out and endorsed him, his, ugh, “Joementum” got the boost it needed to bring them out to the polls in support of him.
I’m sure Trump’s team is relishing the prospect of Biden as the Dem candidate. It’ll be 2016 all over again, but with the added advantage for Trump of being the incumbent. Biden’s really going to have to step up, especially regarding his pick of a running mate, if he’s going to be able to fight off the “Sleepy Joe” epithet. My hope is that Trump starts unloading on him right away so voters in upcoming primaries can get a sense of how good (or bad) a candidate Biden will be in the general election.
Tabby Lavalamp says
Even to non-Americans, my gods, is primary season exhausting. Why do you do this to yourselves every four years? I honestly don’t understand why primaries aren’t held on one day across all states and territories.
Mano Singham says
The dates of the primaries are set by the states, not the national party organization, and they guard that right jealously. They set the dates based on various factors. It is yet another sign of the weak party structure here.
We are seeing a tendency to move to bunching them up and holding them earlier (as in Super Tuesday) as states that used to come much later in the calendar realized that by the time it got to them, the race was over and no one cared. I expect that continue.
A Lurker from Mexico says
As usual, Obama had to carry the old idiot back into relevance. As usual, there were voter suppression efforts in Bernie-leaning zones. And just like last time, all of Bernie’s “flaws”, like the Castro comments that Obama made too, or the mythical “BernieBros” will get non-stop coverage while Biden’s outright insane statements and horrible policies will be swept under the rug.
What’s frustrating is that, at it’s core, the whole thing is very simple. Older voters are carrying Biden to victory. With the primaries having 4+ hour lines, during a workday, the only group that can reliably make it are old retirees who do nothing but watch MSNBC all day, who don’t have pending student debt, who are covered under Medicare and don’t have any rush to expand it, and who think that there’s still time to baby-step your way into stopping climate change.
And it would be as simple as doubling down on this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RF6Sk0aoGpo
Make a whole thing out of Biden’s desire to cut everything that helps his own supporters. Put it on AM radio, have it run every hour in the days leading up to every election. Biden supporters won’t magically grow a sense of empathy by tomorrow, but you can lead them away from stupid decisions by informing them that “With a president Biden, it’ YOUR ASS that’s on the chopping block”.
It wouldn’t be off-brand for Bernie to address that BIDEN WILL CUT SOCIAL SECURITY, because Bernie also cares about boomers (even if they don’t care for him), and maybe knowing that BIDEN WILL CUT SOCIAL SECURITY will have an influence on this primary. Older democrats have proven that they don’t care about others, knowing that BIDEN WILL CUT SOCIAL SECURITY might at least trigger the selfish instinct to care for themselves. They might not turn around and vote for Bernie but depressing Biden’s turnout would be the second-best thing.
On the other hand, don’t. Boomers made Hillary the democratic candidate, Boomers made Trump president, Boomers embraced the economic systems that have now resulted in the deaths and misery of millions, Boomers didn’t address climate change and stopped younger people from making the changes necessary to address it. Boomers managed to fuck every generation that came after them. It would be some kind of poetry, a last hurrah, now that the young are overworked, underpaid and unable to support anyone but themselves, the old elect a man who will cut the safety net that keeps them from falling, and true to their nature, the last generation that Boomers fucked…
@Mano No. 6 and Tabby No. 5
The fix is in:
[Update at 1557 on 4 March: As I sat my afternoon meditation I wondered if there were any more scheduled debates and if there were, would Biden get a cold or some other excuse to avoid getting his head handed to him on the stage by Bernie. Well there is a debate, scheduled for 15 March in Phoenix and the Democratic Central Committee is already moving to protect Biden. Via Twitter:
With only two people in the debate—Biden and Bernie—what the fuck kind of threshold could she be thinking of? Hmmm? The fix is in folks. There will be no debate.]
@7 A Lurker
Why doesn’t anybody seem to want to acknowledge the fact that African Americans came out in large numbers for Biden? They often complain about how Democrats take them for granted, but among Progressives, they seem to have become completely invisible recently.
@brucegee1962 No. 9
A Lurker’s point stands. African Americans under thirty vote for Bernie. Those over 30, and especially 65, vote for Biden.
Porivil Sorrens says
Why should that matter? I support Bernie for his policies, not for what identity groups he belongs to or what proportion of identity groups support him.
In the hypothetical bullshit alt-reality where Bernie’s supporters were 100% white men over 60, I would still find his policies better than the others. Anything else is completely aesthetic.
A Lurker from Mexico @7
I’m a boomer, one of the older ones, but I’m still gainfully employed and have no trouble being one of the first few in line at my polling place on the way to work. I’ve never watched MSNBC.
I also happen to agree that Biden will be yet another neolib, but that makes him marginally better than most Republicans as regards some social issues even if we can’t easily tell them apart in other ways.
Tabby Lavalamp says
I’m not sure why you tagged me as that has no relevance to my post, but your reply is one of the many things I find exhausting.
Sorry. I tagged you because Mono was replying to your post.
When I get exhausted I find a good media fast refreshing.
My apologies to Mano — I missed his post just two days ago looking into the Black voters questions seriously.
They need to keep Tulsi Gabbard out, at least.
Also, regarding getting to polls, more states need to introduce vote by mail.
And if people could rank their choices we’d get a much better picture of who they want rather than who they feel is safe or other strategizing.
@anat nos. 16 & 17
I liked, and continue to like, Tulsi very much for a variety of reasons. She would make a three-person debate uncomfortable for both Bernie and Biden, but Biden much more so than Bernie. I think the DNC would much rather figure out a threshold that eliminates both Bernie and Tulsi so that they could just scrap the last two debates.
I’m also a huge fan of ranked voting. That’s what they did in Utah and that worked well.
@Tabby Lavalamp, #5,
I won’t go into it here, but the development of primary elections over the last 100 years in the US is a fascinating see-saw between the political parties wanting to appear to the public to be open and representative, and at the same time wanting to nominate people the party wanted.
If, in 2016, the Republican party ran the nomination the way it did in 1920 there would have been no way Trump would have gotten near it. On the other hand, if the Democratic party ran the nomination in 2008 the way they ran the nominations in 1920, we wouldn’t have had Obama. There would have been a stream of middle-of-the-road, business-conscious, slow-change nominees from both parties. I can’t say that it would have been worse, or better. It would have been different.
It was a little harder for a populist candidate to be nominated for president before the election reforms in the 1960’s. You could buy your way in, but only if you knew the right people and belonged to the right clubs. On the other hand, William Jennings Bryan managed to get enough of his populist supporters into the Democratic party that he was the Democratic Party nominee for president in 1896, 1900, and 1908. He never got the brass ring though.
consciousness razor says
That is true. But still, this was about explaining the surprising resurgence of Biden, when his campaign had been pretty awful for weeks/months before Iowa and he had little money and ground support to spread around to Super Tuesday states.
Sure, plain old name recognition helps. It helps to be Obama’s old wingman. It helps to be a US Senator since before Post-It notes, the Heimlich maneuver, and UPC barcodes were invented. It helps to have some level of support from the Dem establishment (shared with several other candidates).
But that was all true for a long time. We should be curious about the sudden increase. What’s not a big mystery is why he had somewhat decent polling numbers all along.
Indeed. Another thing is that, while blacks were a fairly large group in most of the south, whites had the plurality, which is totally normal.
They’re Dems, whatever that means these days, but we’re still talking about rural/suburban southern white folks, and that should paint a very different picture in your mind if you know anything about US history. So, we just have to look at the actual results ourselves, because MSNBC/CNN/etc. apparently want to tell another type of story.
What you see is that, as is (almost?) always the case, whites were a larger group across the board, everywhere but Alabama where it’s closer to a 50/50 split, with very few Hispanics/Latinos. Not surprising. So it’s true that Biden did get more support from blacks than Bernie (leaving aside age, etc.), but that simply isn’t enough to explain how he did so well in those states.
Moral of the story…. If you’re going to blame anyone for putting Biden in the lead (temporarily, I hope), please consider blaming old, conservative, white southerners, who seem to have had more to do with it.
A Lurker from Mexico says
Maybe I understated that point. From what I can gather, Obama worked overtime behind the scenes convincing Buttgieg and Klobuchar to drop out and endorse Biden. MSM making a massive deal over South Carolina and Bernie’s “controversial” statements on Cuba gave Biden a massive advantage.
Biden didn’t campaign in many of the super tuesday states, he had a single pad-locked office in all of California. He coasted on the free media coverage (like Trump in 2016) and piggybacked on Obama’s hard work (like his entire career since 2008).
The mainstream media will not magically start giving fair coverage to Bernie Sanders nor will they start covering Biden’s horrible policies and clear signs of dementia, so any strategy that relies on fair media coverage is a dud by default.
Also, with the primaries taking place during workdays and with the polling places closing rather early, younger workers (all workers, more like) who can’t afford to take a day off to stand in line for hours cannot be relied on to go and vote for Sanders.
This on top of the usual DNC fuckery of voter purges, faulty software that by sheer coincidence always benefit centrist candidates and closing polling places in latino communities, forcing latino voters to travel further and bear with longer lines making voting un the primaries somewhere between difficult and imposible, cause, you see, the minority vote only matters when it’s against Sanders.
The only sensible move left is to either flip or depress Biden’s voters. Since they don’t seem to understand or care about Bernie’s policies to help people, the only button left to press is to appeal to their own self-interest, therefore BIDEN WANTS TO CUT YOU SOCIAL SECURITY
A Lurker from Mexico says
Sorry if some of that splash damage hit you. But I’m talking about the overall breakdown of that voter bloc. From what you say I’d guess that if the rest of your generation was more like you we probably wouldn’t be on this mess (more like these multiple interlocked simultaneous messes) to begin with. Sadly, you are an exception, not the rule.
California has a little more than 20 million registered voters, and this year the state delivered 16 million vote-by-mail/absentee ballots a few weeks ago. Many were returned before the exits of Klobuchar and Buttigieg. So, yes, zombie candidates are a by-product of our system.