The incredible resurgence of former Vice President Joe Biden continued on March 10, as the once-flagging White House aspirant decisively defeated Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Biden’s lone remaining major rival for the Democratic presidential nomination lost primaries in Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, and Idaho.
In the first voting since the race turned into essentially a two-man battle between Biden and Sanders, the establishment favorite convincingly trounced the self-professed democratic socialist in working-class Michigan, a state Sanders had taken in the 2016 Democratic primary over Hillary Clinton. But the Sanders campaign has lost all momentum in the face of the party’s sudden and startling coalescence around Biden following his victory in the South Carolina primary on Feb. 29, his first win after three dismal showings. Rivals Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) dropped out of the race and endorsed Biden right before the Super Tuesday primaries on March 3, and since then Biden has ridden a stunning wave of victories that have now strongly positioned him to become the Dem nominee against President Trump.
After falling short in crucial Michigan, Sanders desperately needed a resounding victory in Washington to salvage something from the evening. But even there he was disappointed, as Biden hung with him and a delegate split was in the cards. By the end of the night, Sanders was staring at a delegate-count deficit of at least 140 overall. But the unmistakably diverging trajectories of the two campaigns was far more telling than that.
The long-time Delaware senator who became former President Barack Obama’s vice president sounded very much like a man who felt in control during his address to supporters after the victories in Michigan, Missouri and Mississippi were called. Biden reached out to Sanders backers in the manner of a candidate who had wrapped things up.
“I want to thank Bernie Sanders and his supporters for their tireless energy and their passion,” Biden said. “We share a common goal. Together, we will defeat Donald Trump. We will defeat him together.”
In a tweet, Sanders Press Secretary Briahna Joy Gray looked to the next Dem debate, scheduled for March 15 in Phoenix, as the great hope in reversing her candidate’s rapidly plummeting fortunes. “I, for one, am extremely excited about this debate all the moderates are panicking about,” Gray stated. “America finally gets to see Biden defend his ideas, or lack thereof, on Sunday.”
Blacks, Late Deciders Back Biden
The Sanders campaign had looked to Michigan to help stem the Biden tide, but the man who so often honed his talking points around appeals to struggling working-class Americans came up empty in the state he and Republican populist outsider Donald Trump both took in 2016. Black voters again rejected Sanders in droves, with two-thirds opting for Biden according to exit polls. Biden also was tabbed by a similar margin in exit polls among those who decided on who to vote for this month.
The latter demographic represents a particularly disturbing sign for Bernie Backers. Above all, the party’s move to circle its wagons around Biden was a clear response to Sanders’ frontrunner status after a strong showing in Iowa and early victories in Nevada and New Hampshire. Democrats who were horrified at the notion of a socialist heading their ticket against Trump in November have eagerly accepted establishment icon Biden as the only alternative and are voting accordingly.
With a seemingly inevitable stomping awaiting him in delegate-rich Florida on March 17, the Sanders campaign, which was riding high a mere two weeks ago, finds itself reeling. A much-anticipated one-on-one debate with Biden on March 15 is now shaping up to be a last-chance showdown for a populist progressive who is being lapped by an Old Guard Democrat in a post-2016 political era that has been marked by a clamoring for change.
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