The primary results of Super Tuesday Democratic – with Joe Biden winning nine states and Bernie Sanders winning only three but also likely to take California, the state with the most delegates – cemented the Democratic contest as a race for two horses and set the stage for a long battle for the 2020 presidential nomination.
Sanders, the Vermont left senator, was the undisputed leader before Super Tuesday – and now, by winning the California primary, he has shown that he remains a formidable candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
But Biden managed a mighty shake-up before Super Tuesday with his South Carolina landslide victory last weekend, which kicked off his campaign in the first three main contests.
The battle between their two divergent visions of the Democratic Party and the United States was at the center of the most crucial day of the American presidential primaries, with 14 states, American Samoa and American voters representing about a third of the delegates.
On the one hand, Sanders’ plea for a far-reaching change to reorganize American society in the direction of the left, including universal health care and participation In the enterprises. On the other, Biden’s incremental approach, demonstrated by his 36-year record as a senator known to be able to work with Republicans to advance center-left priorities.
Biden’s “remarkable achievement”
These two main candidates imposed themselves on Super Tuesday amid humiliating performances for the alternative candidates of the two wings of the party.
Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg threw more than half a billion dollars of his own fortune at Super Tuesday, counting on Biden to continue wading as he did in Iowa and New Hampshire. This strategy bombs: the centrist ex-Republican only gained the American territory of American Samoa. As a result, on Wednesday, Bloomberg announced that it was abandoning the race and then approved Biden.
In the Sanders corridor, left senator Elizabeth Warren came far third in her home state of Massachusetts. “The question now is when, not if … Warren leaves the race,” said Robert Singh, professor of American politics at Birkbeck, University of London.
Biden’s victory in Warren’s home state was arguably the most striking manifestation of the former vice president’s resurgence. Massachusetts is one of the most liberal states in the country, and Sanders was in the polls before the vote, when the former vice president was not even considered a candidate. “It is a remarkable achievement,” said Singh.
Former Vice President Barack Obama also won unexpected victories in Oklahoma and Minnesota – two states won by Sanders in his 2016 battle against Hillary Clinton. Less surprisingly, Biden swept his fortress in the South, where his central constituency of moderates and African-Americans includes a large part of the Democratic electorate. Biden took Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee, as well as a victory in Texas, the second most populous and one of the most heterogeneous states.
Exit surveysshownthat in many states of Super Tuesday, Biden has been the biggest beneficiary of the voters who have made up their minds in recent days. “It is very significant that Biden was hugely successful among these voters,” said Iwan Morgan, professor of American politics at University College London. “While the moderates were divided, Sanders was able to take advantage of his clear leadership of much of the party, but the fact that the centrists Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg have withdrawn in recent days and have given their support to Biden s is revealed to be crucial. “
“The suburban, white, college graduate Democrats seemed to be going for Biden because many of them see him as more eligible for Trump, and I suspect elements in this constituency also see Sanders as too far left, like having a program like that of [British Labour party leader] Jeremy Corbyn – a lot of spending without explaining where the money would come from, ”added Singh.
“You can’t write off Sanders”
Nonetheless, Super Tuesday has shown that Sanders continues to perform well with Latin voters, a major factor behind his victories in California and Colorado, not to mention his previous triumph in Nevada. By capturing these states – as well as Utah and his home state, Vermont – the self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist also showed his undiminished strength among the young white voters who have been the foundation of his support since the 2016 primaries .
Not only do they count on different segments of the electorate, but it can be expected that the two main candidates will draw on divergent forces over the smallest details of the campaign as they move towards a grueling series of contests – including six primaries on March 10, in Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Washington.
“Biden is doing well with the ground game at the facility, getting endorsements, getting support from the machines at the facility,” said Scott Lucas, an American policy expert at the University of Birmingham. “The real advantage of Sanders is the committed activists: he has a lot of people to put up posters and flyers, using social media.
When it comes to getting the money to pay for these campaigns, Biden got a big boost after South Carolinain in the aftermath of a disappointing start. After returning, the former vice president raised $ 15 million in three days. Yet the ability to raise huge sums through a plethora of small donations remains one of Sanders’ greatest assets – as the record demonstrates$ 46.5 billion his campaign collected more than 2.2 million donations in February after months of overbidding his opponents.
“Biden clearly has a political dynamic, but when it comes to things like fundraising, Sanders clearly plays much better,” said Singh. “The media is all over Biden at the moment, but you can’t just write off Sanders.”
Given the respective strengths of the two candidates, it is possible that neither Sanders nor Biden won the majority of the delegates at the time of the Democratic convention in July.
“A contested agreement is not something that could easily be excluded,” said Singh.
“In light of the ferocity and zeal of the Sanders base, you can see a real battle going on there. It is also possible that if a candidate wins a narrow majority, the question of legitimacy arises again – especially if Biden wins when you have a large part of the democratic base supporting Sanders which is much more to the left than under Obama. “