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Biden vs. Sanders: Heading into Super Tuesday and Beyond

Robert Dimuro

Posted on March 1, 2020 11:44

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The minority vote will be key in determining whether Biden or Sanders receive the majority of delegates heading into the convention.

Former VP Joe Biden has a big reason to be happy heading into Super Tuesday - a blowout victory in South Carolina that many hadn’t expected. It was almost the direct opposite of the results in Nevada, both in percent of the vote and in the proportion of delegates awarded for Biden and Sanders. In fact, Biden now has a temporary lead over Sanders in the overall popular vote from the first four states.

Democratic Candidate Joe Biden. Photo by Michael M Stokes. (CC by 2.0)

What’s unique about Biden is his controversial strategy: he’s relying solely on the Black vote to propel him to the nomination and to the presidency. Many pundits criticized the integrity of this strategy and doubted his firewall in the Deep South, which, so far, has held up in SC.

One explanation for Biden’s huge victory is that, shockingly, 24 percent of SC voters deemed Rep. James Clyburn’s endorsement of Biden the most important factor in their vote. As such, it’s clear that Biden’s years of senatorial experience and making inroads with the Black community have paid off in giving him his first-ever primary victory in a presidential campaign.

Moving forward, it’s clear that getting out the Black vote will be Biden’s key strategy in his quest to keep up with Sanders and force a brokered convention. Moreover, in a brokered convention, moderate and establishment Democrats would stress that turnout among Black voters is especially crucial to defeating Trump because of the fact that Black voter turnout dropped 5 percent from 2012 to 2016 - the biggest single factor in explaining low voter turnout for Clinton overall.

However, despite Biden’s success with the Black community, it would be incorrect to assume that he has the broadest coalition of support among all the candidates. Surprisingly, that title arguably goes to Sanders. Sanders has improved upon his 2016 run, in which he was criticized for only appealing to white voters, by building a multiracial and multigenerational coalition that none of the other white candidates have been able to match.

Democratic Candidate Bernie Sanders. Photo by Gage Skidmore. (CC by-SA 2.0)

 

In addition to Sanders’s success in the mostly white states of Iowa and New Hampshire, he has established his own firewall with Latinos based on the polls heading into Super Tuesday and his dominant performance in Nevada, a state with a high Latino population. As a result, Sanders could also make the case in a brokered convention that he is best suited to defeat Trump with a coalition of Latino voters that outsizes the Black population by 25 percent.

In broader terms, Trump is licking his lips at the prospect of a struggle at the convention between Biden and Sanders. If Biden can capitalize on his surging momentum, Super Tuesday will add to the chaos and almost guarantee a brokered convention. Four years ago, Trump enjoyed the same show, as he quickly became the presumptive nominee while Clinton and Sanders dueled it out and risked dividing the Party. In 2020, a brokered convention risks dividing Democrats beyond repair in their calls for unity against President Trump.

Robert Dimuro

Posted on March 1, 2020 11:44

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