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How Super Tuesday Was Affected by Moderate Merging and Progressive Polarization

Both former Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Amy Klobuchar suspended their campaigns just days before Super Tuesday. On Monday night, both of the candidates joined Joe Biden at a Dallas rally. Both candidates announced that they were endorsing the former Vice President for his presidential run. Joining both Klobuchar and Buttigieg was former candidate and 2018 sensation Beto O’Rourke. 

The decision for both Buttigieg and Klobuchar to drop out seems to have been mainly due to their inability to connect with minorities. The two surged in majority-white New Hampshire but fell heavily in Nevada and South Carolina. Both campaigns ultimately had to evaluate their chances for the nomination and deemed that there was no viable path forward. 

As results pour in from the 14 states and one territory, it’s clear that these endorsements could have worked some magic. While polls as late as a week ago in Minnesota showed that Biden wasn’t even in the top three, many did show that Klobuchar was either coming in first or second. With her drop out from the race and her endorsement the night before Super Tuesday, Biden saw a huge unexpected victory in Minnesota, winning a majority of the vote and the state overall. For another example, Texas was seen as an easy sweep for Sanders. However, with O’Rourke’s endorsement, Biden pulled ahead and won the state. In his Super Tuesday speech, Biden admitted that the endorsements from Klobuchar and O’Rourke helped him heavily in those states. 

Obviously, the endorsements weren’t the only thing that has made Super Tuesday “super” for Joe Biden. After coming off from a massive win in South Carolina, Biden saw a series of events that fueled his momentum. For starters, his large win against Sanders secured the idea that he was better with minorities. This fueled a series of wins in the South on Super Tuesday, including Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. His momentum and media traction from his big win in South Carolina also helped him heavily amongst last-minute decision voters, who overwhelmingly supported Biden over Sanders. 

However, there’s no doubt among many people that the moderate endorsements heavily helped Joe Biden. In fact, most of the established Democrats have jumped onto the Biden ship heading towards the white house, fearing that Sanders would be too radical to secure the election against Trump. It’s the exact opposite of what happened in the 2016 GOP primaries, as moderate Republicans stuck around for too long and instantly handed the nomination to President Donald Trump. The division that occurred because Republicans were unwilling to drop out of the race put a block against a moderate GOP candidate as votes were split among many candidates all at once. 

Biden’s campaign has seen a final boost since Super Tuesday ended. Former mayor Michael Bloomberg has dropped out of the race in the last of efforts to fully consolidate the moderate democrats. His ad funding system along with generous sums of money will all be handed straight to Joe Biden, who he endorsed immediately after dropping out. This step is huge for Biden since Bloomberg voters fill the same lanes as Biden voters, which is to say that the majority of them are moderate and older. With Bloomberg out of the race, most of the voters are going to turn to Biden, which is a near clear sign that Biden could build a new delegate lead that would be hard to overcome. Bloomberg, while nowhere near winning in most areas, did pull a sizeable number of voters in Super Tuesday’s largest delegate state, California. If Bloomberg’s voters all went to Biden in the state, Sanders would have lost this state by around 200,000 votes. Bloomberg’s drop out marks the last of moderate candidates in the race (except for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who is not expected to qualify for debates or projected to win any states.) 

And there’s something else working heavily in Biden’s favor: progressive polarization. 

After a series of hard losses in Iowa and New Hampshire, Elizabeth Warren decided enough was enough. Even though she spent previous debates agreeing with Sanders on major issues like healthcare, the Massachusetts Senator decided to shift gears and set herself apart from Sanders in every way she could. She started targeting Sanders in debates and online, creating a split in the progressive sector between “Bernie bros” and her supporters. Her presence in the race hurt Sanders heavily in the Super Tuesday race. 

Warren is different from Bloomberg in that her base is very unique. While it’s true that many of Warren’s voters are progressive, the rest backed either Biden, Buttigieg, or Klobuchar in large numbers, meaning that Warren’s departure from the race could actually give a bigger boost to Joe Biden than Bernie Sanders. However, she’s taking up the same lane as Sanders, aiming for the same young progressive voters Sanders tries to draw to his camp. This was costly on super Tuesday in states like Massachusetts, where Biden pulled a surprising victory, likely because progressive voters were split between Warren and Sanders. If Warren continues to stay in the race and the primaries move towards more progressive Western and Northern states, this could pave a path to destruction for both Sanders and the progressive party. Warren still is unsure of whether she wants to suspend her campaign, or what the potential next step forward would be for her. However, there’s a strong possibility that Biden, now equipped with endorsements from the top four moderate Democrats previously in the race, along with endorsements from many of the established GOP, could sweep next week’s primaries if the progressive sector of the party continues to collapse. 

However, there’s no knowing what might happen if either Sanders or Biden ends up clinching the nomination. This is because the general election could be a repeat of 2016, when many Sanders supporters ditched the polls and neglected to vote for Clinton. That was a base the Democrats needed to seal a victory and was a base that was completely missing. With many already pledging that they will vote for Sanders and only Sanders, its uncertain what could happen if Biden grabs the nomination. On the same note, the established DNC likely wouldn’t see a full unification behind Sanders if he were to grab the nomination. The progressive moderate split could be the same one that destroyed victory for the Democrats back in 2016

After his disappointing Super Tuesday results, Sanders has pledged to drop out of the race if Biden ends up at the DNC with the most delegates, avoiding a contested convention. Democratic victory in November would only occur if the two split sides of the Democratic party consolidate like the moderates just have. Until the convention, Super Tuesday has confirmed that the remaining primaries are a two-man race and have proven the power of unity, a lesson the Democrats need to take with them if they want a chance in the general election. 

Featured Image via NBC News @ 3:17

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Joanna Hou
Written By

Joanna Hou is a 16 year old high school student based in San Diego, California. She is passionate about current events, law, and politics. She is an avid writer, journalist, and musician (euphonium and flute). In her spare time, she enjoys reading and boba. Instagram: joannah_11

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