What a difference a day makes, huh? 24 hours ago, the burning question was Would Biden’s South Carolina firewall be strong enough to keep him in the race? But one night later, the more pertinent question just might be Could California end up being Bernie Sanders’ firewall? But after a whirlwind 24 hours, all we really know is that Super Tuesday is going to be wild, but some of the prediction models may have gotten turned on their heads.
Biden’s Bounce – Oddly enough, Joe Biden might be about to find out what Pete Buttigieg felt like about a month ago. Everybody noted at the time that Mayor Pete should have gotten a big bounce out of his performance in Iowa, but it was muted because nobody knew who actually won the Chinese Fire Drill caucuses for days. This may have robbed Buttigieg of increased standing in polls, as well as a jump in fund raising coming off of the victory.
There’s no doubt as to the size and strength of Biden’s victory in South Carolina, but once again, timing becomes an issue. Normally there’s about a week between primaries, time for a winning candidate to campaign off of that win, get a couple of updated polls in, hopefully get a fund raising boost off of the victory. But this year, with only 72 hours between South Carolina and Super Tuesday, Biden doesn’t have the physical time to go from rally to rally bragging about the outcome. Also, there isn’t time for a fund raising bump before Super Tuesday, and even if he does get one, not enough time to get additional ads up on the air in the Super Tuesday states.
There is one way in which this situation may actually be beneficial to Biden. Because South Carolina was held on a Saturday, and the results known on Sunday, both off news days, his victory in South Carolina should still be front and center national news for most of Monday. That’s precisely the kind of last minute free advertising that Biden needs, and may help power turnout for him on Tuesday.
I’m proud of Pete – I don’t know if I’m the only one who saw it, or if I’m mistaken, but it just seemed to me in the debates that Buttigieg’s attitude towards Sanders was a little more personal than most others. Maybe it was his military background, but like with myself, it just seemed to me like that socialist banner that Bernie so loves to wave really got under his skin.
That being said, it takes both guts and class to get out of the race before Super Tuesday. After all, there was no reason for him to do so, his plans were already laid, appearances set, he could have just ridden it out to see what happened. But clearly Buttigieg wants Sanders stopped, and letting Biden get over 15% in California is an important part of doing that. With or without an endorsement, Biden is the natural beneficiary for Buttigieg’s supporters, and they’ll be welcomed with open arms.
Also, I’m proud of Tom Steyer too. I jumped Tom’s shit like a trampoline when he got into the race. But like Buttigieg, now that Biden looks more and more like a viable candidate, he doesn’t want to dilute the moderate vote in favor of either Sanders or Bloomberg. If this is taking one for the team, then the team owes them a dinner after the game.
A cowlick sized grain of salt – That’s what I’m taking Bernie Sanders state polling numbers with going into Super Tuesday. It’s not that I distrust the polling, or the criteria in it, but Sanders has basically under performed at every turn, and I think I know why.
If the first four contests are anything to go by, Bernie’s socialist movement had better pick up the pace if they want to beat the sloth to the bathroom. The entire thrust of Sanders’ electability claim is that he and he alone can unleash a heretofore unheard of horde of young, impassioned voters to sweep the movement on to victory over Trump. But after four contests, three of which Biden barely showed up for, Biden still leads Sanders in overall national votes.
Look. credit where it’s due. Nobody throws a rally like Bernie, at least not on the Democratic side. Bernie is a rock star. But just because people will show up for a free concert in the park doesn’t mean that they’ll stop off at the booth on the way out to buy the CD. Bernie’s strongest, most ardent support is from the 18-35 age range. But the problem with that is that the fuckers just won’t show up to vote!
Biden won every county in South Carolina, including “college town” counties, where Sanders should have been able to run up the score. And in New Hampshire, Sanders lost the county where Dartmouth College is to Mayor Pete. Poll numbers are fine, but as Cuba Gooding Jr said in Jerry McGuire, Just show me the money!
Last minute surprises – The problem with Joe Biden’s monster win in South Carolina, and the dropping out of Mayor Pete and Tom Steyer is that it may not make as much difference in the behemoth Super Tuesday states of Texas and California, due to early voting. Apparently early voting started in California on the day after the 2018 midterms, and as long as mail in ballots are postmarked by Memorial Day, they’ll be counted. And Texas isn’t much better.
As a result, don’t look for any kind if definitive delegate count result out of California Tuesday night, because likely you won’t get one. Cast your mind back to the 2018 midterms. There were several tight House races in Southern California, several in Orange County, which weren’t finalized and called for more than a week, leaving the strength of the Democratic majority in question. While most of the delegates will probably be apportioned, there may still be some last minute surprises.
Because of the length of early voting in California and Texas, it may mute some of the effect of Biden picking up late Steyer and Buttigieg support. My personal feeling is that Biden’s uber strong South Carolina showing will bring out last minute voters in California, especially African Americans who may have been on the fence about voting in the first place. That plus the last minute influx of Steyer and Buttigieg voters will put him over the critical 15% threshold. And since having a third candidate top the 15% threshold would, according to Steve Kornacki at MSNBC, strip Sanders of at least 105 delegates from his haul, California is the only place that I want Michael Bloomberg to do 15%.
Sweet Home Alabama – Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia are all voting on Tuesday, and they’re all minority rich states. Joe Biden didn’t just win the black vote in South Carolina, he powered it out to the polls the way that Bernie Sanders keeps claiming he can do with the youth vote. With the presumed addition of votes from Steyer and Buttigieg, and considering that black church goers stood up and turned their backs on Michael Bloomberg today, if Biden can power out the African American voters in those states the way he did in South Carolina, he can minimize some of the damage that Sanders is expected to do in California and Texas.
Off the wall – I just heard this in passing today on one program or another, I don’t remember which, and it stuck with me. On it’s face, it’s ridiculous, but the more you think about it in political terms, the more it grows on you. Don’t drop on the floor and require CPR tomorrow if sometime during the day you see a BREAKING NEWS banner, followed by the story that Senator Kamala Harris has endorsed Joe Biden for President. Harris is popular in California, and a last second endorsement from her could help power turnout for Biden on election day to contain the damage Sanders would like to do. And while Harris may not be Biden’s first choice for Vice President (I’m thinking Stacey Abrams), can anybody say Attorney General?
The bottom line – At this time on Friday night, Joe Biden was a distant third place in delegates, some 40 delegates behind Sanders, and 20 behind Buttigieg. The fact that as we lay our heads down tonight, Biden is 7 delegates behind Sanders, and Buttigieg is out of the race is astonishing. With all of the sea changes in the last 36 hours, I’m not even going to attempt to predict an outcome for Tuesday.
Instead, I’ll agree once again with Steve Kornacki’s assessment. The ultimate goal for Biden on Super Tuesday is to hold Sanders to no more than a 300 delegate lead coming out of the day. Because as you get into later march and on into early April, you start to hit states like Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan, all more industrialized states with heavier minority populations, much more fertile ground for Biden than Sanders. I wasn’t joking when I said at the top that the most important question on Tuesday was whether or not California ended up needing to be Bernie Sanders firewall. If Biden can keep Sanders in sight on Tuesday, and then clean up in the industrialized states later in the calendar, the more likely it becomes that we go to Milwaukee with no first round delegate winner, and Biden brings it home in the second round with the help of the Super Delegates. Don’t touch that dial.
To know the future, look to the past.before the insanity of the 2020 election, relive the insanity of the 2016 GOP primary campaign, and the general election, to see how we got to where we are. Copies of President Evil, and the sequel, President Evil II, A Clodwork Orange are available as e-books on Amazon, at the links above. Catch up before the upcoming release of the third book in the trilogy, President Evil III: All The Presidents Fen