The verdict delivered by Democratic voters on Super Tuesday almost certainly has a lot more to do with who they don’t want at the top of their ticket than who they do.
Faced with the prospect – or specter – of frontrunning socialist Bernie Sanders leaving the rest of the Democratic presidential field in the dust, voters opted to cling to a somehow reassuring figure with deep flaws but a familiar face. To be sure, this was a cry for help.
Consider that, unlike Bernie and his army of small donors, and the billionaire Bloomberg’s bottomless bank account, Joe Biden was running on financial fumes just days before Super Tuesday. Even a big victory in South Carolina over the weekend did not provide sufficient time for him to capitalize with a fundraising bonanza and corresponding ad campaign. And yet, a critical mass of voters, desperate to avoid the ripe possibility of a self-proclaimed socialist representing them on the ballot, decided to cling to a candidate who had, until just days before, been almost a joke.
The field, which included a record-shattering 29 candidates at one time or another, conveniently narrowed just in time for the former vice president to profit immeasurably, swooping in and feeding off the carcasses of two candidates considered moderate by current Democratic standards who suddenly withdrew just days before voters went to the polls in 14 states.
In addition to being the beneficiary of this transparent, last-minute establishment consolidation/conspiracy designed to cull the herd, Biden got the added bonus of spontaneous combustion by yet another relative moderate – deep-pocketed newbie Mike Bloomberg – on the same debate stage where Biden delivered a defiant, if typically error-filled, performance. Bloomberg spent some $500 million, which bought him an average of about 12% support across the board on Super Tuesday. A princely sum but not enough to keep him in the race – he withdrew early Wednesday, leaving no safety net if Biden stumbles again, which of course, remains as live a possibility as a resurgence by Bernie.
When you consider the wild swings in recent polls and the phoenix-like rise of Biden from the ashes of three humiliating beatdowns in February, you quickly understand that Democrat voters have obviously been dissatisfied with their options. But now, with the shouting over and more than a third of their delegates up for grabs, they were being painted into a corner. On the biggest single day of their electoral season, one that could well shape the very future of their party, the Democratic faithful were left with the choice of two men who are not even Democrats – a socialist-cum-communist, and a soulless, wooden money machine – plus a scolding schoolmarm, and ol’ Uncle Joe.
It seems almost certain that the Democratic power brokers made Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar an offer they could not refuse, with a clear message: You’ve had a nice little run, but if you stay in this race and continue to siphon votes away from our chosen vessel, the former vice president, your future in this party could become very cloudy. But jump on board, be a team player, give a speech saying you think Lunch Bucket Joe would make a terrific president, and we will look upon you and your still-promising career with favor.
The voters responded in kind, as if it was a political version of hands up, don’t shoot. OK, OK, we’ll put a figurative bonnet on that warthog and pull the lever for One Percent Joe. Do we really have any other choice?
So Bernie won the first three contests, Biden 11 of the next 15, and six more states are set to vote on March 10. Remember that, even with a sweep of ten states on Super Tuesday, including every large state except California and Colorado, Biden still possesses less than one-quarter of the 1,991 delegates needed to clinch the nomination. Given the twists and turns we have already witnessed in this race which attracted a cattle car of wannabes, voters in the 32 states who have yet to weigh in will now watch as the spotlight turns back to the immediate past vice president, and the scrutiny which led to his rapid decline in January and February resumes afresh. Expect to hear discussions restart about Biden’s famous stumbles, gaffes, and memory lapses – plus the alleged corruption revolving around Hunter Biden and the millions he received from a Ukrainian company while his father fired the prosecutor investigating that company.
Backed into a corner like a collective wounded animal, Democrats responded by returning to the devil they know, hoping against hope that their chosen vessel can first remove the stench of socialism from atop their party, and then somehow overcome his own ineptitude. But if Joe Biden fails to justify the conditional seal of approval the voters gifted him on Super Tuesday, they will still have plenty of time to pull another 180-degree turn and continue their search for someone, anyone, who can present a respectable image for their embattled, war-torn party.
Read more from Tim Donner.