Yesterday, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders took stock of his campaign after a second straight Super Tuesday saw him lose in states that back in 2016 he beat Hillary Clinton. But in 2020 the voters broke the other way this time giving former Vice President Joe Biden a nearly insurmountable lead in the delegate count and a clear path to Democratic Presidential nomination.
As he entered the 2020 campaign the Sanders theory of the case was that he had the message to build on his base from 2016 and bring the Democratic Party a new energized coalition. The Vermont Senator would deliver a coalition of black, young and working-class voters who were energized by his transformative vision for America.
Well, he did well in two caucus states Iowa and Nevada and captured a primary win in New Hampshire. But all three of those wins were a great deal closer than expected and as he looked like the possible Democratic nominee things changed very quickly.
Sanders miss read what the Democratic voters wanted and like a bucket full of ice water first in South Carolina and then 72 hours later on Super Tuesday he found out what the 2018 Blue Wave was all about. The
Sanders’ team did not account for the shift in the nation’s suburbs away from Trump and toward centrist Democrats who were vital in sweeping the party back into control of the House in 2018
The Sanders theory of the case about the hunger in the country for a revolution was way off the mark. He did indeed have a message that was very popular with young voters but they simply did not turn out for him in the numbers needed to prove his case.
In Michigan, the largest of six states that voted last Tuesday, about 70% of voters under 30 backed Sanders. But they accounted for only 14% of voters, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of the state’s electorate.
Meanwhile, Biden has emerged as the candidate preferred by African Americans from South Carolina to Mississippi and Michigan. Biden has also won voters without college degrees and made striking inroads in the suburbs that could be critical to control of the White House in November.
The other problem that has with voters is his embracing of democratic socialism is particularly scary to such educated moderates, who, above all, are looking for the most “electable” candidate to take on Trump this fall.
“Bernie is Captain 35%. That’s the magic number of the ultra-liberal, ultra-progressives that are standing with him bar none,” Democratic pollster Jeff Pollock said. “He failed to grow.
While clearly Sanders failed to pick up on what fueled The Blue Wave, in 2018 that is also a cautionary tale for those in President Tump’s camp. Both he and the candidate Trump found success in 2016 in part because they could benefit from the public’s harsh judgment of Hillary Clinton, who contended with both unwarranted sexism and self-inflicted wounds built up over more than three decades in the public eye.
Make no mistake about it Biden is a flawed candidate but one thing is for certain he is far more likable than Clinton who was polarizing to both the Democrats as well as the GOP. The bottom line is the appeal of Sanders didn’t seem to expand beyond his most loyal supporters. Trump could face the same challenge in the fall.
Biden is a very safe pick who is pro-Obamacare, someone with a vast resume of leadership both in the Senate as well as serving as vice president for two terms.
So, come this Tuesday Biden will put Sanders mathematically out of the Democratic Presidential Nomination race. Florida will give him a massive delegate haul with both Illinois and Ohio adding to the count.
We will then see if Sanders can be a team player or if he will stick around. My guess is that he will drop out and work with his long time friend and former fellow senator.
Sanders isn’t going anywhere immediately. He will be in Arizona on Sunday for a one-on-one debate against Biden. Arizona, which votes next Tuesday, is one of the few remaining bright spots on the primary calendar for Sanders. Having demonstrated new strength with Latinos this year, he hopes similar support in Arizona could at least momentarily blunt Biden.
But the hurdles are getting higher. Sanders needs to win 57% of the remaining delegates to wrest the nomination from Biden. Both the rules for allocating delegates and voting history suggest that will be difficult.
Biden faces plenty of challenges. Trump and his allies are revving up their attacks on the former vice president and have been stunningly effective in defining their opponents in the past.