The Super Tuesday contests in 14 states suddenly have had a stunning change in the past 72 hours. Former Vice President Joe Biden has gone from the brink of being out of the Democratic Presidential Candidate race to move to the head of the center-left of the Party after his big win in South Carolina
The Democratic race has shifted dramatically over the past three days as Biden capitalized on his commanding South Carolina victory to persuade anxious establishment allies to rally behind his campaign. Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg abruptly ended their campaigns and endorsed Biden. Another former competitor, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, publicly backed Biden while a new wave of mayors, lawmakers, and donors said they would support the former vice president.
While has been good for Biden but the fact remains Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders remains the front runner in the Democratic field and is poised to have a great Super Tuesday. Sanders and his closest advisers pushed back against the shift of party establishment and donor class toward Biden.
Sanders was campaigning in Minnesota last night, he sought to beat back Biden’s momentum with a welcoming message to Klobuchar and Buttigieg supporters.
“To all of Amy and Pete’s millions of supporters, the door is open. Come on in,” Sanders said. “We all share the understanding that together we are going to beat Donald Trump.”
Despite this solid move for Biden today his goal is to end the day not trailing Sanders by more than 150 delegates. The key to keeping Sanders close means that in California, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Minnesota where Biden is expected to lose the key number to watch is 15%. If Biden can get at least 15% he becomes eligible for delegates and that means he can keep those losses from becoming too bad.
Meanwhile, Biden should do well in the south with possible wins in Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, Oaklahoma and now a decent chance in Texas.
So today we have Biden, a 77-year-old lifelong politician who was relishing his newfound momentum in a campaign that has struggled at times to excite voters with a message emphasizing a pragmatic approach to governing and modest change. On the other stands Sanders, a 78-year-old democratic socialist who has scored four consecutive first- or second-place finishes relying on an energized coalition drawn to his promise to transform the nation’s political and economic systems.
Yet the primary isn’t just a two-man race.
Today is the debut on the ballot of former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, the billionaire who has flooded the Super Tuesday states with ads for the last three months, and that could create problems for Biden’s establishment appeal. The former New York mayor, who will appear on a 2020 ballot for the first time today, has invested an unprecedented amount in his presidential bid and wracked up many high-profile endorsements of his own.
He could hit that 15% mark in a number of states which could either hurt or help Biden or Sanders. That is something until sometime tomorrow we won’t know.
Meanwhile, there is Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has struggled for delegates and momentum over the last month, She may not win her home state tonight but even if she doesn’t she has vowed to stay in the race until the party’s national convention in July. Just like Bloomberg, there are a number of states where Warren has a good chance at reaching that 15% number so she will come away with some delegates.
Her plan is run up her personal delegate count in hopes of being a compromise candidate if the Democratic Party ends up in Milwaukee this summer and neither Biden nor Sanders has the 1991 delegates needed for the nomination then the party will choose her.
Over the next couple of days, we will know if Biden survives Super Tuesday or will Sanders get so many delegates that he locks up the nomination. All of this will make for an interesting next week or so.