On Saturday, former Vice President Joe Biden staggered into the South Carolina Democrat Primary and walloped the field, winning over 48 percent of the vote. While political watchers thought the race in South Carolina might be close, the endorsement of African American Representative Jim Clyburn was decisive. The Democrat Party electorate in Clyburn’s South Carolina is 60% African American.
In victory, the gaffe prone Biden, who two weeks ago claimed the South African government had arrested him for trying to meet Nelson Mandela, gaffed further. While giving his victory speech, Biden spoke with a fake southern accent, and said that Senate candidate Jamie Harrison would be the next president of the United States. During a speech on Monday, Biden horribly and hilariously mangled a quote from the Constitution: ‘We hold these truths to be self evident, all men and women are created by…go you know, you know, the thing.’ He also declared, ‘Tomorrow is Super Thursday!’
Bernie Sanders came in a distant second in South Carolina, winning 19.9 percent of the vote. Tom Steyer, the other billionaire in the Democrat primary, won just 11 percent of the vote and dropped out of the race. On Sunday, after getting only 8.25 percent of the vote, Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, the 4th largest city in Indiana, dropped out as well. Another casualty of the South Carolina Primary was Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, who received just three percent of the vote. Both Buttigieg and Klobuchar endorsed Biden.
With six southern states voting on Super Tuesday, all rich in African American votes and with the field clearing itself, Biden had reason to hope. So did the Democrat establishment, petrified since the Iowa Caucus that the party would nominate a septuagenarian Vermont socialist. The Clinton machine has declared war on Bernie Sanders. Surrogates like former Virginia governor and Clinton fixer Terry McAuliffe, endorsed Biden. Hillary Clinton, still bitter about her 2016 primary race against Sanders, has spoken out publicly against him. Former Democrat Senate Majority leader Harry Reid has endorsed Biden.
Obama has worked very quietly behind the scenes on Biden’s behalf. In 2008, Obama selected Biden because of perceived foreign policy expertise and later trusted him with managing the withdrawal from Iraq. Biden spent the last debate furiously linking himself to Obama and the administration’s accomplishments. But all through the campaign, Obama has remained silent. He has not endorsed his former vice president and Biden insists he hasn’t asked him to. At this point, an endorsement from Obama would help Biden not just with African Americans but affluent Democrats.
On Super Tuesday, Biden matched his South Carolina performance among African American voters in southern states like Virginia where he won 53 percent of the vote, North Carolina (59 Percent), and Alabama (62 percent). Biden won Texas and even defeated Sanders outright in states the senator was expected to win like Minnesota and Maine. Sanders also badly underperformed his own totals from the 2016 primary, though it should be noted this was a two-person race between himself and Clinton.
Because the Democrat system is not winner take all, Sanders still racked up plenty of delegates. In Texas, Biden won 33.6 percent of the vote and 56 delegates, while Sanders won 30 percent of the vote and 50 delegates. Sanders won four states, including the delegate packed California which brought him back from the brink of a disastrous night. While Biden dominates with African American voters, Sanders does the same with Hispanics. The Hispanic vote delivered California to Sanders, 90 percent of Hispanic voters under 30 voted for him. In Texas, he won 45 percent of the Hispanic vote. Biden and Sanders more or less split the white vote throughout.
Overall, Biden had a great night, a major comeback win for a candidate thought to be on the verge of a humiliating defeat. The only humiliated candidate was Elizabeth Warren, who won third place in her home state of Massachusetts. Sanders supporters on the left of the Democrat Party will now put tremendous pressure on Warren, who has tacked left throughout the race, to dropout. There is no doubt Warren is siphoning progressive voters from Sanders. Warren leaving the race can only help him. She was exceedingly nice to Sanders during the last debate, saving her wrath for the corporatist Bloomberg, and is probably angling for Sander’s vice-presidential nomination. After spending half a billion dollars, Michael Bloomberg won only American Samoa.
The race comes down to Biden vs Sanders. Now, delegate math is all that is important. A candidate needs 1,991 to clinch the nomination. As of this writing, Biden has won 461 delegates to Sanders’ 404. Taking place in a variety of states with varying demographics, the race promises to be a long slog. On Super Tuesday, moderate Democrat voters came home and Biden surged. Can Sanders do the same? Next up Idaho, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Dakota and Washington State.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.