Just a week ago, the probability of Joe Biden getting the Democrat nomination was pretty slim. He lost the first three states, which puzzled and discouraged the voters eager to get a solid candidate that can beat Donald Trump this November. This disappointment led to chaos inside the Democratic party: Biden was continuously collapsing in the national polls, opening a window for Bernie Sanders to move ahead and secure his leading position. The former left the moderate Democrats upset, to say the least, the latter – excited Bernie’s base as their hopes for the “economic revolution” and ultimate defeat of the establishment became more procurable.
The last Democratic Debate in South Carolina was not a good look as well, although it’s applicable to virtually all candidates on the stage. Saturday night’s results changed the direction of this race as Biden emerged as a clear winner in South Carolina. His victory not only brought him the majority of the delegates but also started a chain of events that social media users called #Joementum.
Biden’s momentum really began just before the actual voting. Jim Clyburn, Representative from South Carolina, endorsed him a few days before the caucus, giving Biden much needed boost in the polls. “When Barack Obama came to South Carolina, he had just lost New Hampshire the week before, and lost it big. But we propelled him into the nomination and the presidency,” said Clyburn.
Despite several scenarios of FiveThirtyEight predicting South Carolina primary results to be just a one-time occurrence or a mirage reflective of “geographic and demographic strengths and weaknesses of the candidates,” Clyburn was actually correct: South Carolina did indeed play its usual role. It became a “firewall” as Biden called it.
First, Pete Buttigieg announced on Sunday that he drops out of the race. Buttigieg had a great start in Iowa and New Hampshire, but as the race moved to more diverse states, it was hard for him to maintain the support of the voters, especially among black Democrats. “The truth is that the path has narrowed to a close, for our candidacy if not for our cause,” said Buttigieg Sunday night, expressing his concern for the impact he makes on staying in the race and concluding that America needs leadership that can heal the nation.
Then another big news came out on Monday – Amy Klobuchar also suspended her campaign ahead of the Super Tuesday primaries. Both former candidates, Buttigieg and Klobuchar, flew to Dallas to join Joe Biden at the rally and endorse his candidacy. They were joined by Beto O’Rourke, a former Representative from Texas, who also endorsed Biden.
Such unity on the eve of the Super Tuesday contest gave another boost to Biden’s campaign, consolidating a moderate wing of the left behind one candidate. As Tom Miller said, this gave Biden “a realistic path toward the nomination.” Monday night Biden collected a few more endorsements from other political figures, such as former Senator Harry Reid. Media immediately portrayed these moves as a way to slow the rise of Bernie Sanders, who calls himself a Democratic socialist.
Not surprisingly, this prompted Sanders’ campaign to respond. “Establishment is nervous not because we can’t beat Trump but because we will. And when we do, the Democratic Party will again be a party of the working class,” said Faiz Shakir, a campaign manager for Bernie Sanders, Fox News reported. By Tuesday morning, the Democratic bid for the nomination clearly became a two-man race.
Super Tuesday’s results propelled Biden fast into the first row when he swept 10 states and won enough delegates to surpass Sanders in the delegate count. “We have seen, in that 72-hour period, Joe Biden go from being a joke to a juggernaut,” said Van Jones, a CNN commentator. Biden certainly exceeded expectations to secure Texas, Minnesota, and Massachusetts, as these states were counted for Sanders. The former Vice President managed to win all of them and even more. For the record, he didn’t even have an active campaign in some states that he claimed.
He still lost several states to Sanders: California, Colorado, Utah, and Vermont. However, Biden made a turnaround that gave moderate Democrats sigh of relief: the prospect of choosing between Donald Trump and a Democratic Socialist in November is postponed until further notice.
Super Tuesday still doesn’t mean that Biden will run away with the nomination easily: there are several states on the way. Bernie Sanders is going to fight till the very end, considering his massive grass-roots movement anxious for a change. However, Joe Biden just got his shot to win the big prize. And for some Democrats, it means evading Sander’s victory of the nomination.