Biden triumphs on Super Tuesday just a week after trailing far behind Sanders

Former Vice President Joe Biden is expected to win at least eight states on Tuesday, his main rival Bernie Sanders is expected to win four, including California, the biggest prize of the evening.

One of the most decisive dates on the American electoral calendar, Super Tuesday is the day when 14 American states, the territory of American Samoa and Democrats abroad hold their primaries. Candidates need 1,991 delegates to make the democratic ticket. In Tuesday’s vote, a total of 1,357 delegate votes were in sight – about a third of the national total.

With votes still counted across the country, a PA projection assigned 362 delegates to Biden, 285 to Sanders, 30 to Bloomberg, 20 to Warren and one to representative Tulsi Gabbard. The numbers are expected to change dramatically throughout the night as new states, no bigger than California, report their numbers.

The evening showed that Biden was a formidable competitor to Sanders. Just a week ago, Sanders was the star Democratic candidate, and then, after a much-appreciated performance in the South Carolina debate, Biden took his second breath, picking up 36 delegates at 11 from Sanders.

Biden gained even more momentum the day before Tuesday’s vote as his moderate presidential rivals Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, approved Biden after stepping down from the race.

All eyes on California and Texas

California was one of the most watched states because of its 415 delegates. Sanders hoped to increase his margins and build an insurmountable lead among the delegates, while Biden hoped to stay close enough to avoid a blowout.

The polling stations closed at 11:00 p.m. (04:00 GMT Wednesday) but voters who were in line were still allowed to vote. Sanders’ campaign asked for an emergency injunction asking that Los Angeles County polling stations remain open for two more hours after reports of delays and long queues.

Meanwhile, Sanders and Biden were locked in a tight race in Texas, the second biggest prize of the night, with votes still counted Wednesday morning.

The biggest surprises

Perhaps the first shock of the evening was Biden’s victory in Minnesota, a state where Sanders had to win easily. Then, defying even greater odds, the former vice president took over Massachusetts, defeating both Sanders and the state’s own senator, Elizabeth Warren.

Biden, 77, is also expected to win in Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Arkansas.

Sanders, 78, a self-proclaimed democratic socialist with a fervent electoral base, who aims to reshape the American economy, is expected to win as planned in his home state, Vermont, Colorado and Utah.

In a provocative speech, Sanders tore Trump apart, calling him “the most dangerous president in the history of this country.” But he also tore Biden apart for voting for the invasion of Iraq and portraying him as tarnished by billionaire contributors.

“We are attacking the political establishment,” he said. “You can’t beat Trump with the same policy, the same old woman.”

Money doesn’t buy everything

There has been good news for critics of US campaign finance regulations, who for decades have argued that endless money spent equals endless political influence. So far, in the 2020 Democratic campaign, money doesn’t seem to translate into delegate votes.

Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg made a calculated bet to find the best value for money by spending more than half a billion dollars on advertising and ground operations in an unorthodox and untested method. to get support from the moderates. He did not even try to register for the previous four qualifying events in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

Biden’s continued turnaround would be all the more surprising given that Super Tuesday was supposed to be about monster fundraising and solid political organization across so much of the country. Biden largely had neither. He spent only $ 60 million on his campaign.

Defiant sanders

Sanders said party elders were fighting to keep him from an appointment with which it appeared last week that he could run away.

“The political establishment has made its choice: anyone except Bernie Sanders,” Sanders campaign director Faiz Shakir wrote on Tuesday in a fundraising message.

“The truth is that we always knew we were taking the damn 1% from this country,” added Shakir. “But we have something they don’t have: people. Lots and lots of people. ”

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Sanders struggled to connect with black voters. During this 2020 campaign, Sanders made a concerted effort to improve its position with minorities nationwide.

According to the Edison Research exit survey, African-Americans, seniors, and college graduates largely supported Biden in the 14 nomination contests, helping him win at least eight states.

Latinos, millennials and white men largely supported Sanders.

The pace of the Democratic race begins to accelerate after the Super Tuesday, with 11 other states voting in late March. By then, almost two-thirds of the delegates will have been assigned.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)