Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook MORE savored a political resurrection on Super Tuesday as voters restored him to front-runner status in a race he looked set to lose until recently.
The former vice president won the majority of the 14 states that voted Tuesday, defeating Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.) in several key primaries across the country.
Sanders had begun the day as the preeminent Democratic candidate, but his confidence that he was about to be catapulted within reach of the party’s nomination proved badly misplaced.
As of 2 a.m. Eastern time, Biden had been projected as the winner in nine states to Sanders’s four, with one — Maine — still in the balance.
Biden, against all predictions, was projected the winner in Texas. It was the biggest upset of a night that already had several.
Biden won at least two other states, Massachusetts and Minnesota, where rivals had held an edge in opinion polls.
“They don’t call it Super Tuesday for nothing,” an ebullient Biden told supporters during a victory speech Tuesday night.
The speech was momentarily interrupted after protesters rushed the stage in California. Campaign aides quickly escorted the protesters away.
Sanders can take some heart from the fact that he has been projected the winner in California, the biggest state in the nation and therefore the biggest prize in terms of delegates.
Much will hinge on his margin of victory. But with almost half of all precincts reporting, it appears that both Biden and former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergEngel scrambles to fend off primary challenge from left It’s as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Liberals embrace super PACs they once shunned MORE will win at least 15 percent of the vote each — a crucial threshold figure for winning delegates and thus limiting Sanders’s advantage.
In one night, the race has been reordered in a fundamental way. Biden has been boosted, while Sanders’s strength has been sapped.
The contest is now a two-person race between the two septuagenarians — and it will almost certainly be a prolonged one.
Six states vote next Tuesday, but they include likely wins for both Biden and Sanders in Mississippi and Michigan, respectively.
March 17 sees another four sizable states vote — Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio — where the two leading candidates might again divide the spoils.
Exactly three weeks before Super Tuesday, Biden had seemed to be sinking toward an inglorious end to a long political career when he trailed in fifth place in the New Hampshire primary.
The green shoots of a comeback were first seen with a second-place finish in Nevada’s caucuses on Feb. 22.
But it was Biden’s thumping victory in the South Carolina primary on Saturday that really breathed new life into his campaign.
He defeated Sanders by almost 30 points, delivered a fiery victory speech and, in the next 48 hours, won endorsements from three other moderate former candidates — Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Democrats demand Republican leaders examine election challenges after Georgia voting chaos Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk MORE (D-Minn.), former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegScaled-back Pride Month poses challenges for fundraising, outreach Biden hopes to pick VP by Aug. 1 It’s as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process MORE (D) and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas.)
Klobuchar and Buttigieg had dropped out in the wake of disappointing showings in South Carolina.
Those endorsements were part of a strong shift of the Democratic establishment behind Biden.
The centrists were jolted into action by the realization that Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who skeptics contend is unelectable in November against President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE, was on the brink of building an insurmountable delegate lead.
In the past week, Biden has won the endorsements of a number of Democratic power-players including former Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidHarry Reid says he’s cancer free White House gets jolt from strong jobs report Murkowski, Mattis criticism ratchets up pressure on GOP over Trump MORE (D-Nev.), Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Senate panel passes amendment to bar using troops against protesters Defense bill turns into proxy battle over Floyd protests MORE (D-Va.) and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice.
Sanders’s setback should not be exaggerated. He is very much in the hunt for the nomination, and he has some formidable assets, not least the intensity of his supporters and formidable fundraising prowess.
But he faces some serious questions.
He lost at least two states on Tuesday night — Minnesota and Oklahoma — that he had won against Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House accuses Biden of pushing ‘conspiracy theories’ with Trump election claim Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE four years ago. The loss of Texas was a bitter blow.
He also appears to have lost the black vote again by dramatic margins, a crucial factor in his losses across the South.
Biden won Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. In Virginia, Biden won by around 30 points; in Alabama, by more than 40.
To be sure, this cycle has already defied almost everyone’s predictions. And there are plenty more factors that could add to the volatility.
Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names MORE (D-Mass.), who soared in polls last fall, had another dismal night on Tuesday. She lost her home state and appears likely to be relegated to third place there. She never came within a whiff of a breakthrough anywhere else.
The pressure for her to exit the race could be irresistible. Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarHow language is bringing down Donald Trump Biden, Democrats seek to shut down calls to defund police McEnany, Ocasio-Cortez tangle over ‘Biden adviser’ label MORE (D-Minn.), who has endorsed and campaigned for Sanders, took a veiled but clear shot at Warren on Twitter on Tuesday night for splitting the progressive vote.
If Warren drops out, Sanders would seem the most likely beneficiary.
But a parallel situation could unfold among the centrists.
Bloomberg, who has spent more than $500 million since entering the race in late November, also failed to break through.
Dogged by poor debate performances and squeezed by Biden’s post-South Carolina surge, Bloomberg never came close to winning in any state, though he did win American Samoa, a U.S. territory.
He posted respectable numbers in some states, including California and Colorado, but that hardly justifies his enormous expenditure.
Bloomberg and his aides are reportedly considering whether to stay in the race. A withdrawal could come as soon as Wednesday.
Those permutations will work themselves out. But Super Tuesday was Biden’s night.
If he ends up becoming the nominee, this will be a critical moment. But this year’s race could have some fresh twists still left.
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