Thoughts on Super Tuesday
The full results of the Super Tuesday elections haven’t been reported yet, but it is clear that Biden has exceeded expectations by carrying most of the contested states and taking the lead in delegates so far. He prevailed not only in the Southern states and Oklahoma, as expected, but he also won in Minnesota and Massachusetts and has a realistic chance of winning Texas and Maine as well. California is likely to be Sanders’ best state, and it is reporting last, so we won’t have the full picture until tomorrow at the earliest. I wrongly assumed that Biden would not have the chance to capitalize on his South Carolina win because he had no organization or advertising to speak of in the states that voted today, but all of that turned out to be irrelevant. By almost every metric of a campaign’s competitiveness, the Biden campaign should have gone nowhere, but instead it has been propelled back to the front of the pack where it was about six months ago.
The 2020 contest is clearly a two-candidate race now, but now Biden has the advantage. The party leadership clearly loathes Sanders and what he represents, and they have been desperate to find some way to stop him. Biden has improbably reemerged as their champion despite his many obvious weaknesses as a candidate. The remainder of the nomination race seems to be heading towards a farcical repeat of 2016 with the establishment favorite in the leading position. Sanders might yet surprise everyone by taking the lead back from Biden, but this could very easily end up as one more replay of a familiar story where the insurgent loses to the establishment’s candidate and then the establishment’s candidate goes on to lose a winnable general election. If that is the choice that the Democratic Party makes, it will be the safe and uninspired one.
I have been a confirmed Biden skeptic for the last year, and I thought his poor showings in the early states were enough to end a candidacy that still doesn’t make much sense. Biden’s weaknesses as a candidate are all still there, and they will only become more obvious to voters. His foreign policy record will provide Trump with plenty of fodder, and his poor debate performances will make him an easy target for the incumbent. As the field narrows down to Biden and Sanders, there is every chance that Biden will collapse again when voters realize that he isn’t up to the task.
There is no denying that Warren had a bad night. Relegated to third place in her own state, she had no success anywhere else, either. It doesn’t make sense for her to stay in the race much longer. She has distinguished herself as the wonkiest and best prepared candidate, but that is the kind of candidate whose base of support is typically quite limited. Most voters don’t vote based on policy, and Warren’s campaign has been intensely focused on policy substance. I happen to think that is to her credit, but I fear it is also why she has trailed behind her competitors in every state. If she chose to support Sanders, her knowledge and experience would be tremendous assets for his campaign.
One thing that everyone can rejoice in is the complete failure of the Bloomberg campaign. Mike Bloomberg made an extremely costly bet of more than $500 million that he could buy his way into this nominating contest, and when all is said and done he will have only a very small number of delegates and no wins outside of Samoa. As I said when he jumped into the race, Bloomberg had no constituency among Democratic voters, and he proved to be an even more abysmal candidate than I thought he would be. Most Democratic voters turned their noses up at the arrogant authoritarian oligarch, and that is a very good and healthy thing for the future of our political system.