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.