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Today’s read: 8 minutes.
Joe Biden prevails, Bernie’s on the ropes, a question about Warren dropping out and some important numbers.
Joe Biden on a tour of the Middle East in 2016. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kentavist P. Brackin/released)
After spending more than a half-billion dollars and only earning delegates in American Samoa, Mike Bloomberg announced he was dropping out of the campaign for the Democratic nomination and endorsing Joe Biden. “I’ve always believed that defeating Donald Trump starts with uniting behind the candidate with the best shot to do it,” he said. “After yesterday’s vote, it is clear that candidate is my friend and a great American, Joe Biden."
Last night, Joe Biden’s wife Jill fought off animal rights protesters who stormed the stage during his victory speech, producing this wild photo:
What D.C. is talking about.
Joe Biden. You would have had to have deer ears to hear this one coming. The former vice president’s campaign seemed dead in the water just two weeks ago, and now he’s going to head into the final stretch of the primary race firmly in control of his fate. Biden cleaned house on Super Tuesday, sweeping the south and dealing a huge blow to Bernie Sanders’ momentum. Biden is projected to win Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. He also picked up Minnesota and Massachusetts for good measure and managed to stay competitive in Maine, Vermont and Texas, where some folks thought Sanders would romp. Sanders won California and did enough in the south to avoid a death blow, but his path to 1,991 delegates and the nomination just got a whole lot harder. “The trajectory of the Democratic primaries is clear: it would take a miracle for Sanders to prevent Biden from becoming the nominee,” pollster Dave Wasserman said. Neither Mike Bloomberg nor Warren won a single state (Bloomberg did win American Samoa), though each were viable to earn delegates in about five or six states. Results are still coming in — and will be for days — but the general contours of the night appear clear: the odds of Joe Biden becoming the Democratic nominee just skyrocketed. Here’s how the major papers covered it:
What the left is saying.
Joe Biden’s camp is on cloud 9. They absolutely cleaned up in some states where they didn’t even campaign or have active field offices in. Their “earned media,” or the free press they got in the last two weeks, seemed to run laps around Bloomberg’s war chest and Sanders’ grassroots funding. Not only that, but Biden did more than just clean up with black voters this time: he also punctured the theory that young voters would save Bernie. Biden simply dominated with the over 45 demographic and Sanders is yet to get the youth turnout he keeps promising to dig him out of that hole. The conventional wisdom is that Sanders’ strength was in Super Tuesday states. Now Biden’s camp says the race is moving on to places where Biden is even stronger and will extend his lead. #TeamSanders is fuming and a bit shocked. They’re blaming Warren, who stayed in the race and ate up chunks of the vote in important states. They’re blaming voter suppression, which led to hour-long waits in states like Texas, California and Oklahoma. They’re blaming the corporate media, which framed Biden as an underdog and then heralded him as the comeback kid.
What the right is saying.
It’s all about Bernie. Last night was a repudiation of everything Bernie stands for. Democrats across the south rejected his Democratic socialism, his burn it all down attitude, and instead they embraced Joe Biden. White liberals spent the last year telling black voters who they should vote for: Warren, Sanders, maybe even Kamala. Instead, black voters unambiguously threw their support behind “another old white guy,” Joe Biden. The liberal activists on Twitter don’t even understand their most important base. Bernie keeps calling his movement a “multiracial, multigenerational” revolution but he can’t seem to get young people or non-white voters to actually show up and vote for him. Especially in the south. There’s also quite a few on the right who are enjoying watching Mike Bloomberg flame out. After wasting $500 million, he simply did what he could have done from the start: endorse Joe Biden. Trump spent the morning mocking Bloomberg for wasting so much money and trying to stoke more intra-party drama by blaming Warren for staying in the race.
Maybe none of it matters? The bad debate performances, the gaffes, the sketchy record, the polls, the early state momentum, the donations, the field organizing… it could be that this race was always as it was: Biden had broad appeal with the Democratic base that mattered (older voters and black voters) while Sanders dominated the airwaves and social media with talk of a revolution that was never coming to fruition. There’s so much to take away from last night I’ll just give you some rapid-fire thoughts as things settle.
- This race seems over. But, if anything, this primary should teach folks that what comes next is unpredictable. A year ago, Kamala Harris was called the favorite. Two months ago, Mike Bloomberg was certain to buy the nomination. Last week, Bernie was running away with it. Today, Biden is a lock. It was a big night for the former vice president, but there’s a lot of time between now and the convention for something to derail his nomination. I wouldn’t bet on this thing being over.
- It’s good that Mike Bloomberg couldn’t buy himself onto the ticket. $600 million isn’t enough to convince voters you are charismatic, honest or care about real issues, and while he certainly had some inroads across the south it’s comforting to see this Super Tuesday flop (for me, at least).
- Liberals, especially the white ones, still don’t understand black voters. Especially young, wealthy, educated white liberals. If you want to know why so many black voters are throwing their support behind another “old white guy” from the “establishment” and not an intersectional feminist or the guy calling for a revolution, don’t ask the pundits on Twitter. Go talk to actual black voters, read some writers of color who back Biden, or spend some time in the south.
- The scenes of the voting lines last night are nauseating. People needing seven hours of their day to vote is a total travesty, and I am humbled by the folks who stuck it out. That’s not Democracy and it should never happen in this country. I don’t care what side you’re on: voting should be accessible and easy.
- I saw a lot of “2016 all over again” fatalism from the progressive left this morning. Let me be clear: Joe Biden not as weak of a candidate as Hillary Clinton and the threat of Donald Trump to the left is a lot more real this time. If Biden wins the nomination, he will start this race as the frontrunner. He’s almost surely got Pennsylvania locked up. He’s proved black voters will turn out for him. Trump is loathed by 55% of the country. If he makes a smart, unifying pick for Vice President and benefits from some Bloomberg dollars he’ll be in a perfectly good position to win. The race is different than it was in 2016 (and yes, Biden could definitely lose if the Bernie-left decides to sit out or cast protest ballots).
Give me a hand.
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Your questions, answered.
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Q: What is Elizabeth Warren's reasoning for staying in the race? If there is a contested convention would she be a likely "middle" pick to appease both people who don't want Bernie and people who don't want Biden?
- Conrad, Berlin, Germany
Tangle: Just like anybody else, I can only speculate as to her reasons for staying in. Before Super Tuesday, one could make a reasonable case that she was capable of a surprise run that could have made her candidacy viable again. We’ve had a lot of surprises in this race so far and I don’t think it was completely unreasonable for Warren to feel like she could make a run on Super Tuesday.
Some reporters have suggested that a contested convention would lend itself nicely to her nomination. Suppose Biden and Sanders were left fighting for the delegate lead — a candidate like Warren could be the party “compromise,” just as you speculated. On the surface, this series of events is almost logical. A charitable read on the idea looks something like this: Bernie is a radical, Biden is a moderate, Warren combines Bernie’s progressive ideals with Biden’s pragmatism and she’s got better relationships with the “Democratic establishment.”
The issue with that is — well — it’s a complete pipe dream. It’d be totally unprecedented in U.S. politics and it would necessitate giving the nomination to someone who couldn’t even finish top-two in voting. It’d mean choosing a nominee who was performing the worst of the three in head to head polls against Trump, couldn’t muster non-white support and had all the same general appeal issues as Bernie without any of the base of support that Biden has. I have no idea how a rational party wanting to rid the country of Trump could justify thrusting Warren into the general election when voters don’t want her there.
The cynical take here is that Warren is 70 years old and this could be her last election. Maybe this is all a big vanity trip and she’s not ready to give up the big crowds or national television spots or the thrill of campaigning. Maybe her support for Sanders’ policies isn’t what it seems and she really doesn’t mind if Biden runs away with the nomination. Maybe she isn’t ready to concede the progressive lane to Bernie when the two’s relationship has been strained and their supporters continue to clash. None of that rings true for me, but I can see why some people are landing there.
The less cynical take, and the one I subscribe more to, is that until this morning, Warren had a plan. Her campaign made it clear their goal was to finish top two in some important Super Tuesday states and to earn enough delegates to be in the hunt at the convention. In a world where Sanders, Biden and Warren were all sharing equal delegates, her candidacy could have been a real option. Instead, she couldn’t even finish top-two in her own state — a sobering reality that calls into doubt her odds of succeeding on the national stage. Underperforming as much as she has will not lend itself to her being a solution at a contested convention.
As resistant as I am to political predictions, I’ll make one here: her campaign will be over soon. Maybe today, I suspect this week, but if not — probably next. Her staffers have already begun fighting out in the open, sharing their demoralization online and have essentially lost the narrative on what their plan is. Most of her employees are unionized and she simply doesn’t have the money to keep paying them. With last night’s results, the reality of her path must be settling in. While it was mostly Sanders supporters questioning why she was in the race while moderates coalesced, those questions are beginning to hit the major cable news channels and even the centrists in the party. Nobody quite sees what the point of her staying in is now, and as those questions continue to reverberate, the answers will become less and less charitable.
Sensing that, I think Warren will have to bow out sooner rather than later.
Yesterday, I said that 373,000 people turned out for the South Carolina primary in 2008 (during Obama’s run) and 528,000 turned out last week. Actually, it was 373,000 people who turned out in 2016, not 2008. And this week, the number was updated to 538,000, which did still exceed the approximately 532,000 people who showed up for Obama’s primary run in South Carolina in 2008 — an encouraging sign for Democrats. Click.
A story that matters.
One family that evacuated China and came home to San Diego was quarantined for coronavirus upon returning to the U.S. Then they got a bill for $4,000 following the mandatory quarantine. The family had accepted the U.S.’s offer to get evacuated from Wuhan, where the first outbreak of the virus took place, and then were forced into the quarantine — which they thought would be paid for. After being repeatedly tested for the virus, and coming up negative, the family was released. Then the bill showed up. “I assumed it was all being paid for,” Frank Wucinski, the father, said. “We didn’t have a choice. When the bills showed up, it was just a pit in my stomach, like, ‘How do I pay for this?’” This experience is one that is about to start popping up for a lot of families in the U.S., and it has reinvigorated the debate on socialized medicine. Just yesterday, several Republican lawmakers suggested treatment for the coronavirus should be free, setting off befuddled reactions from progressives on the left. Click.
- 70%. The percentage of black voters who supported Joe Biden in Alabama, best of any Democrat.
- 37%. The percentage of black voters who supported Joe Biden in California, best of any Democrat.
- 56%. The percentage of black voters who supported Joe Biden in North Carolina, best of any Democrat.
- 50%. The percentage of black voters who supported Joe Biden in Texas, best of any Democrat.
- 66%. The percentage of black voters who supported Joe Biden in Virginia, best of any Democrat.
- $1,600. The amount of money, per vote he received, billionaire Tom Steyer spent before dropping out.
- 15.34 million. The total number of viewers during the South Carolina debate on CBS News last week.
- This wild exit poll showing many of the voters who didn’t vote for Bernie Sanders support his signature policy:
Have a nice day.
Instead of detentions, Ohio high schools are offering yoga and mindfulness classes to students. The adaption is part of a growing trend across America where schools are recognizing the wastefulness — and perhaps even the root cause — of kids being in detention. The “emotional reset sessions sit at the heart of a new Ohio statewide education initiative encouraging schools and teachers to offer mindfulness training to students.” Leaders at the Ohio schools have concluded that forcing kids to sit in a room against their will for an hour rarely does anything to promote personal reflection or behavioral change. Who would have thought? Click.