It looks like a two-man race.
Former Vice-President Joe Biden enjoyed a pretty dominant evening on Super Tuesday, though Senator Bernie Sanders proved his worth by winning in delegate-rich California, the night’s most prized victory.
Now, with most other leading candidates having dropped out of the race, including Mike Bloomberg, and with all of them endorsing Biden, Wednesday morning looks like the Democratic nomination for president is split between two options: Biden and Sanders.
Who Won Where?
Biden was the winner in Alabama, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee, Virginia, and Maine.
Sanders earned the most votes in Colorado, Utah, Vermont, and California.
Elizabeth Warren ended the night without a single first-place victory, not even in her home state of Massachusetts, which delivered a surprise win to Biden. While the lukewarm showing may cast doubt on the future of the liberal senator’s campaign, Warren vowed to “stay in the fight” until this morning when her campaign asked for some space to consider the future.
Mike Bloomberg placed first at the American Samoa caucus, but saw no other wins. He announced the next morning that he would suspend his campaign, endorse Joe Biden and, maybe more important for Democrats, continue to throw his money behind stopping Donald Trump.
Biden’s New Coalition
Just a week ago it looked like Barack Obama’s former vice-president might disappear from the running. After embarrassing defeats to Sanders in the three earliest nominating contests (Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada), the Biden campaign staked its future on what it called the firewall—black voters in South Carolina.
The firewall held. Biden’s overwhelming victory in South Carolina on Saturday came after a perfectly timed endorsement by Representative Jim Clyburn. Biden bested Bernie Sanders by some twenty percentage points and seemed to prove to the broader electorate that Biden was not just a viable candidate, but that his appeal among African-American voters was unmatched by any other player in the race.
An avalanche of endorsements ensued: in the three days between the South Carolina primary and Super Tuesday, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, in another case of precise political timing, both suspended their campaigns and immediately endorsed Biden – seeing him as the only moderate Democrat capable of drawing a wide coalition of voters across race, gender, and economic class. Overnight, Joe Biden appeared to take on the mantle of the most electable Democrat.
Amy Klobuchar’s home state of Minnesota was in play on Super Tuesday, and delivered a victory to Biden, who thanked the senator and credited her for the win.
Biden had also gotten an endorsement from former candidate Beto O’Rourke, whose home state of Texas provided a narrow, but significant victory for Biden.
The Sanders Revolution
Bernie Sanders clearly represents the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, even as fellow leftist Elizabeth Warren remains in the race. What the Vermont senator proved in Nevada was repeated in his triumph in California, that his message of economic equality hits home for Latino voters.
California is still tabulating votes, and so the full delegate count will not be available until later this week, but Bernie’s win there still sends a strong message that a significant group of Democratic voters are hungry for change and are willing to give his bold ideas a shot.
The Democratic race now becomes a battle between the two poles of the party: a far-left, progressive wing led by a self-labeled democratic-socialist, and a center-left, moderate wing, led by one of the country’s longest-serving and highest-profile career politicians. With Sanders, Biden, and Warren all promising to stay in the race until this summer’s Democratic National Convention, it will be several months before we know for certain which candidate will go up against Donald Trump as the party’s nominee. Future primaries appear to favor Biden, but the votes have to be cast.