Wow. There is so much to unpack, it’s difficult to know where to start. These are in no particular order of importance, and I’ll hit as many as I can.
Everything went right – Biden couldn’t have scripted last night any better if he had used Bloomberg’s money to pay for it. In every southern state, not only did Biden win, but he ran up the score in such a spectacular fashion that nobody but Sanders even got close to 15%, and Bernie not above that. As a result Biden was able to walk away from his southern highway with a large advantage in delegates, enough to withstand the rest of the night.
In Bernie’s Aladdin’s cave of California, not only did Biden become viable, blunting Bernie’s delegate haul, he finished high enough to take a sizable chunk of statewide delegates, and will also do moderately well in the district allocation process, where Bloomberg also figures to pick off a few delegates. And in Texas, he ducked the problem completely by finishing first. And Biden over performed in the northeast, where Sanders had also planned on coming out with a much larger delegate haul then he ended up with. It was just a perfect storm performance.
Biden stole Bernie’s argument – What has Bernie Sanders been laying claim to as his entire electability argument? That he, and he alone can mobilize and turn out a massive number of new, and formerly dormant voters, turning them into an invincible army to defeat Donald Trump. That’s the shtick, in a nutshell.
And yet, in every race where there was higher than expected turnout, it was Biden, and not Sanders who was driving the turnout. Biden got mammoth turnout from African American voters, as well as voters over 45 years old. This is what powered his relentless delegate onslaught in the southern states.
Where is Bernie’s path now? – Yesterday was supposed to be Bernie Sanders’ Hanukkah and birthday all wrapped into one. Dominate in the northeast, take Minnesota, and come out with somewhere around 450 delegates from California and Texas alone by being the only viable candidate. This would increase enthusiasm for Sanders, depress enthusiasm for Biden, and give Sanders the kind of “strong plurality” if not an outright 1991 delegates heading into the convention.
I had written earlier last week that Biden’s goal going forward was simple, win convincingly in South Carolina, and survive Super Tuesday, keeping within 200-240 delegates of Sanders if at all possible. Because the rest of March, and early April are to Joe Biden what Super Tuesday was supposed to be for Sanders. large, more industrial states, with large African American populations, places where he could narrow the gap against Sanders and make it a dog fight the rest of the way.
Instead of facing a 200+ delegate shortage, Biden is about 60 delegates ahead, and that figures to hold. Now it’s Biden who has the chance to run up the score, and put together that “strong plurality” that Sanders keeps saying should be the ultimate arbiter of who becomes the nominee.
And I don’t see a path for Bernie. Barring a total meltdown, Biden is going to come out of mid April likely ahead by at least 150-200 delegates. He is also going to come out of it with 60-65% of the delegates now awarded. Show me a state left on the map that favors Sanders heavily enough that he can crush Biden to the tune of a 65-75 delegate edge. Now find me at least one more. Bernie is going to need them, because the delegate calendar will be ticking down, and I just don’t see them.
Biden’s lucky break – I wrote yesterday that you should watch for a surge in primary day voting, which might help Biden, and hurt Sanders and Bloomberg. That came true and then some. My logic was that since the #1 issue for voters was beating Trump, they might dither until the last minute, just to make sure that their favorite was still on the ballot. They did, and election day voting broke heavily for Biden.
Which is because my second deduction was also true. I wrote that normally, Super Tuesday would be about 109 days after South Carolina, which would have given Biden more time to capitalize on it. But because the victory was so mammoth, and occurred on a weekend, the 3 day turnaround could actually be a gift for Biden, allowing him to get free national publicity on Monday, and excite people for Tuesday.
That also worked out to be true. The African American vote was energized throughout the south by Biden;s South Carolina victory, and powered the kinds of numbers in the south that gave Biden his current delegate lead. When I said at the top that everything went right, baby, I meant that everything went right.
The spoiler(s) – When I talked to Teri on her lunch last night, I told her, Guess what? Mike Bloomberg outright won American Samoa, with 4 delegates. Those delegates only cost him $125 million each! Bloomberg’s performance last night was truly pathetic, and it didn’t surprise me in the slightest to get up this morning to find him out. Now I just hope that he stays out for the balance of the primaries, to keep the Sanders grievance machine from kicking into high gear about Bloomberg trying to “buy” Biden.
The more interesting question is what happens with Elizabeth Warren. As of last night, she was doing campaign rallies in Michigan, and flash fund raising for the upcoming elections. Bernie already has a problem, as I pointed out yesterday, what Bernie gets is what Bernie gets, and he can’t clone socialists. But the only state in which Sanders topped 50% last night was freakin’ Vermont. With the moderate vote coalescing around Biden, and hard, Bernie needs all the help he can get, especially Warren’s 11-14%.
The bitter ray of sunshine in that for Sanders is that in early caucus states, especially Iowa, when Warren was not viable on the first ballot, her supporters were more likely to go to Klobuchar or Buttigieg than to Sanders. Whether those voters would moderate to Biden with the others out of the race, or radicalize to Sanders is an open question, but what is not in doubt is that the longer Warren stays in the race, the more she allows Biden to pile onto Sanders, and expand his delegate lead.
So, all in all a stunning night. We went into it wondering if Biden could survive Super Tuesday, and he ended up winning the majority of states outright. But you kind of had the feeling that there was a little magic in the air when they called two large, diverse states like Virginia and North Carolina at the moment the polls closed.That meant that with nothing more than exit polling and a scattering of early vote returns, they could already see the handwriting on the wall. That doesn’t happen very often.
To know the future, look to the past.before the insanity of the 2020 election, relive the insanity of the 2016 GOP primary campaign, and the general election, to see how we got to where we are. Copies of President Evil, and the sequel, President Evil II, A Clodwork Orange are available as e-books on Amazon, at the links above. Catch up before the upcoming release of the third book in the trilogy, President Evil III: All The Presidents Fen