Biden All But Wraps it Up

He's a long way from 1991 delegates but no one can beat him.

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign stop in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., March 9, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid.

The Associated Press headlines its post-Super Tuesday II report ” Joe Biden’s nomination to lose.”

Joe Biden’s path to the Democratic presidential nomination widened significantly Tuesday with commanding victories in Mississippi, Missouri and Michigan, a state that his rival Bernie Sanders won four years ago.


Biden has become the reliable Buick of this race.

His momentum accelerated as he broadened his delegate lead over Sanders with a series of decisive victories. The former vice president’s solid win in Michigan came in a state Sanders was depending on both to bolster his case going forward and for the practical delegate math involved. He came into the day about 96 delegates behind Biden, and Michigan was his best shot at preventing that lead from getting any wider. (Democrats require 1,991 delegates for nomination.)

As it is, Sanders lost a big state where his upset of Hillary Clinton four years ago gave him reason to continue his presidential bid through the end the nominating calendar in June. This time, the first round of voting after Super Tuesday ended the same way as last week’s surprise outcome: with a Biden celebration and an increasingly steep climb for Sanders.

Biden isn’t just leaning on his base of African Americans. AP VoteCast surveys in Michigan and Missouri also show he topped Sanders in suburbs and, notably, across small-town and rural counties, where Sanders had led Clinton in 2016.

“We need you, we want you, and there’s a place in our campaign for each of you,” Biden said Tuesday night. “I want to thank Bernie Sanders and his supporters for their tireless energy and their passion. We share a common goal, and together we’ll beat Donald Trump.”

Sanders’ bad March can be explained this way: Biden’s net delegate gains out of Alabama last week and Mississippi on Tuesday — two Republican-dominated states — essentially cancel out the delegate advantage that Sanders pulled out of California, which has the largest delegate trove.

They note that Sanders’ only real role now is as potential spoiler:

Sanders stayed in the race until June four years ago, fueled in no small part by his Michigan primary victory. This time, the path going forward looks much different.

The Vermont senator faces a fraught choice. Does he try something new: going after Biden even more aggressively as an establishment figure, a relative foreign policy hawk, a budget centrist who threatens Social Security? There’s little evidence over the last two weeks that any of that would change the fundamentals of the contest.

Another option: Sanders can continue advocating for the issues that his supporters hold dear, like “Medicare for All” and free college, not explicitly ceding the nomination but using his base to pressure a Biden-led party to move as far left as possible.

Every other candidate in the race, save Tulsi Gabbard, has dropped out. All of the significant drop-outs, save Elizabeth Warren, have circled the wagons and endorsed Biden. The party establishment is trying to get Sanders to do the same.

POLITICO (“Democrats weigh how to nudge Sanders out after Tuesday losses“):

Even before Joe Biden romped in another big primary night on Tuesday, Democrats were already talking about the next move: how to get Bernie Sanders out of the race.

More than two dozen political operatives and delegate experts agreed in interviews that a walloping in Michigan and Mississippi and a tight finish in Washington state would all but close Sanders’ path to the nomination.

By late Tuesday, Biden was declared the winner in Michigan, the state that Sanders aides had held up as a must-win for the campaign. He crushed Sanders in Mississippi on the strength of overwhelming African-American support. And Biden coasted in Missouri.

Now Democrats, trying to avoid a prolonged primary that they say would only help Donald Trump’s reelection efforts, are conferring over when — or even whether — to prod Sanders to clear the way for Biden.

Democrats agree they want to avoid a repeat of 2016’s protracted race and risk turning over a bloodied and bruised nominee to face off against President Donald Trump. Singed by the devastating general election loss four years ago, some Democrats say they refuse to go down that road again.

But others say Sanders has signaled that this time will be different — that he’s far more likely to jump than wait to get pushed. A scenario in which Sanders voluntarily quits — regardless of how long it takes — is the best way Democrats could coax his supporters to coalesce behind Biden, some Democrats argue.

Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge said if the polls are right and Biden wins big in Michigan and elsewhere Tuesday, Sanders should consider dropping out.

“I think then Sen. Sanders is pragmatic enough to understand that there is no path,” Fudge said. “If in fact, he wants to let the people speak — the people have spoken. I would certainly hope that he would then do what is best for the party and what is best for the country. I would just believe that he is a strong enough politician to know when it is time to fold his hand.

“The problem is math,” she added. Then, speaking of the number of delegates needed to clinch the nomination, she said, If you “can’t get to 1,991, you can’t win. It’s real simple.”

The Sanders campaign was uncharacteristically quiet Tuesday. After cancelling a rally in Ohio due to coronavirus concerns, Sanders flew back to Burlington, Vermont. A Sanders aide said he would not address supporters after Michigan, Missouri and Mississippi were called for Biden.

However, the aide said Sanders was still planning to debate Biden on Sunday, where his team has long believed he would thrive in a one-on-one match-up with the former vice president. Some left-wing allies are cheering him on, despite the disappointing results for Sanders.

“The progressive world wants a Bernie vs. Biden debate, as should all Democratic voters,” said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which is closely aligned with Elizabeth Warren. “Not because it will likely change the outcome, but because in order to not change the outcome, Biden has to withstand one-on-one scrutiny similar to a debate with Trump — and he would likely need to cement some popular progressive positions that Bernie challenges him on. All of that makes us more likely to defeat Trump.”

We’ll see what Sanders does but, frankly, he should drop out now before another debate. All he can do at this point is hurt Biden.

But appeals to party unity are unlikely to sway someone who is ostentatiously not a member of the party. And who is leading a movement selling the message that Establishment Democrats are essentially no different from Donald Trump.

FILED UNDER: 2020 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. grumpy realist says:

    Oh dear god Ralph Nader round II?

    I really really hope not.

  2. Lounsbury says:

    The old political radical game (Left or Right variants) of they’ll all agree with me if I only shout louder and if we destroy the system. And no data can disprove because it’s always the System never their own fault.

  3. Sleeping Dog says:

    Bernie, that thing in your back is a fork, you’re done. Time to give it up. Let Joe spend the next few months safely campaign behind teleprompters and hammer Tiny.

  4. Liberal Capitalist says:

    If the goal is to defeat POTUS Trump in the General Election, then I can see why Biden pulled ahead of Sanders.

    Do I support Sander’s views. Yes. Is he the person to defeat Trump? No.

    “You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.”

    With Biden, there is a chance to take the Presidency and a chance to take the Senate.

    Recess is over. It’s time to clean up the mess.

  5. Kit says:

    Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve gained a grudging admiration, and even a hint of affection of crusty, cantankerous Bernie. He’s very much an American original, for better and for worse. While he would never have made a good president, he has a pretty good idea of what ails America and he is angry, and the situation demands that. And he’s communicated that anger and thereby helped to raise awareness. Now his time is over. He is likely all but spent as a political force and should gracefully leave the stage. Now it’s Biden’s hour, and it’s time to come together. As another cantankerous, disagreeable bastard once said: you go to war with the army you have.

  6. mattbernius says:

    My support is behind Biden.

    I do think it’s a good idea for the Sunday debate still to happen. First of all, any debate prep is a good thing. Secondly, I think its a unique opportunity to have a substantive two person debate without having to play to an in-person audience. Frankly that would be good for the party and the county.

    Plus one more week, and one more set of states, would give Sander’s supporters time to accept what’s going on and for most to move beyond a narrative that “the party” is trying to force them out of the race.

    That would go a long way towards building party unity.

  7. Scott F. says:

    I know this would never happen, but what would be “good for the party and the country” is a debate on Sunday where Sanders and Biden take advantage of the free TV time to turn every question into a statement on the values they share as liberals combined with some Trump and GOP bashing.

    Then at the end of the debate, Bernie formally drops from the race and endorses Joe right there. It would be a political TV moment talked about for years.

  8. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    I agree that Sanders should drop out soon. For the good of the Country. Today. Tomorrow.
    It is time to turn the corner and focus all efforts on removing the cancerous tumor festering in the White House.
    It’s glaringly obvious that Sander’s entire argument for his electibility is fatally flawed; he hasn’t brought out the youth vote, that he promised, in any significant numbers, and his success against Clinton in 2016 apparently, based on 2020 results, had more to do with Clinton Derangement Syndrome than his own popularity.

  9. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    If you are in Donald Trump’s camp, and you are at all tethered to reality, you have to be extremely nervous. Huge turnout. Big enthusiasm. Republicans endorsing Biden.
    It doesn’t look, to me, like the 2018 Blue Wave has crested yet.
    And when it does crest, it very well may take wash Trump out of the White House and back to Mar-a-Lago.
    Florida deserves Trump.

  10. mattbernius says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    If you are in Donald Trump’s camp, and you are at all tethered to reality, you have to be extremely nervous. Huge turnout. Big enthusiasm. Republicans endorsing Biden.

    Yeah, as one person put it, Biden was the guy Trump was so concerned with, he was willing to get himself impeached to try and stop his forward progress.

    @Scott F.:
    That would be a pretty WWE heel to baby-face turn moment, wouldn’t it. I think they should have pyrotechnics go off after the announcement.

  11. DrDaveT says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    It’s glaringly obvious that Sander’s entire argument […]

    You did that just to tweak Teve, didn’t you.

  12. Teve says:

    @DrDaveT: I doubt it. Several people here cant’ work apostrophe’s. 😀