For all those pundits who had started writing the political obituary of Joseph Biden, Super Tuesday of March 3 would certainly have come as a jolt. Biden not only hammered away at the opposition but went on to get 10 out of the 14 states including all of the south.
And the consolation for his chief opponent Bernie Sanders was California and his home state of Vermont. And the shocker for Senator Elizabeth Warren was that she could not carry even her own home state of Massachusetts. Biden did that and comfortably leaving candidate Warren pondering whether she should join the “also ran” category. Indications are that she soon would.
How did the fortunes turn around for Biden? The one advantage for the former vice president was that he has always been seen as a professional and a moderate that the rank and file Democrats are more than satisfied; and he is seen in highly positive terms in the African community that voted in huge numbers for him in South Carolina, in the first big shocker for the rest of the pack. Pete Guttigieg who shocked everyone by his strong performance in Iowa and New Hampshire soon found out that America is not all about older white males only; it is also about African Americans and minorities like Hispanics and Latinos. And when his stuffing was knocked in the primaries of Nevada and South Carolina, the young former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, threw in the towel. And the same thing went for Senator Amy Klobuchar. Guttigieg and Klobuchar along with another Presidential contender from Texas, Beto O’Rourke endorsed Biden prior to Super Tuesday. All this made the difference.
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What also seems to have made the difference for Biden is the fact that respected Democrats including the pack of Super Delegates started openly voicing apprehensions and misgivings about the viability of Sanders defeating President Donald Trump on November 3, 2020. It is one thing for Trump to call Sanders a “crazy leftist”; but when senior members of the Democratic Party including members of the Democratic National Committee expressing anguish over some of the extreme positions of Sanders, it is a totally different story. And this goes for Senator Warren as well who seems to share some of Sanders’ ideas and policies. The news that the campaign of Senator Warren is in consultation with the Sanders campaign should not come as a major surprise. When the Massachusetts Senator decides to pull out, she will most likely throw her weight—for whatever it is worth—behind Senator Sanders.
Fear of a brokered Convention
Biden’s spectacular showing on Super Tuesday has forced one other candidate out of the race—the billionaire Michael Bloomberg who threw an estimated one half billion dollars of his own down the drain. He had to be content only with winning American Samoa but making extremely poor showing elsewhere. Bloomberg was taken as a serious candidate only for his money power; and his short stint showed that money cannot buy everything. His exit from the race and throwing his support for Biden is crucial for the present front runner because of his deep pockets. By pulling out early, Guttigieg, Klobuchar and Bloomberg will remain politically relevant, especially the first two, when the time comes for Biden to decide his running mate, should he finally emerge as the party candidate at the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin this July.
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In all that is happening, Biden is perhaps the first one to realise that it is not a done deal of his nomination at the Convention. In fact, the real worry is that the Democrats will be heading to Wisconsin for a “brokered” or a “contested” Convention where all hell could break loose. A brokered Convention is one in which no candidate has reached the magic number of 1991 delegates but only has a plurality which means that the delegates get into a first round of voting considering the strengths of the contenders. If still the requisite result is not attained, then the second round involving the Super Delegates gets into the picture. These 771 super delegates are chosen by the party leaders and are members of Congress, elected officials and party stalwarts. These super delegates are free to vote for any candidate but the general feeling is that they would lean toward the moderate position of the establishment.
Need to get an edge over Sanders
In the present context the super delegates will tend to favor Biden leading supporters of Senator Sanders to cry foul and talk of the process being rigged. The party leadership must be careful to ensure that the process is transparent for the simple reason that disgruntled voters will stay away from the polls in November.
From nearly two dozen candidates at the start of the political season, the Democrats are essentially down to between Biden and Sanders. The remaining holdouts will fold in the next few days. For both Biden and Sanders, the next showdown is on March 10 when six states including Michigan hold their primaries/caucuses. Michigan is crucial to Sanders; in 2016 he beat Hillary Clinton in a convincing fashion. If he does not repeat it this time around, Biden will continue his winning streak and weaken the Vermont Senator further. For his part, Biden will have to work harder to win the hearts and minds of the young population; as also work to get the Latino vote. At this time both these groups seem to be favorably inclined to Sanders. But polls have shown that the African American community is strongly behind Biden, partly because of his role during the Barack Obama Presidency and policies.
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For the record, Trump has maintained that he is least bit bothered by what is happening in the Democratic Party; and that he is not worried at all about the candidate that is going to emerge. He has expressed confidence that he can take on “anyone” given all that his administration has done for the economy and national security. But deep down Trump must really want the Democrats to nominate Bernie Sanders; and the President will be doubly happy of a Sanders-Warren ticket. Only then he can rant and rave through tweets and rallies about left-wing commies and their “take over” of America as a way of energizing his political base!
(Reports said Elizabeth Warren has opted out of the presidential race).
(The writer was a former senior journalist in Washington DC covering North America and the United Nations.)
(The Federal seeks to present views and opinions from all sides of the spectrum. The information, ideas or opinions in the articles are of the author and do not reflect the views of The Federal)