Good Friday Morning, especially to American Samoa, who gave Michael Bloomberg and Tulsi Gabbard their only delegates of Super Tuesday. What a difference a week makes. Last week at this time, Bernie Sanders was the clear frontrunner, Joe Biden was running on fumes begging South Carolina to save him. This week? Unless something dramatic happens, Joe Biden looks poised to win a majority of the delegates before convention gets here, leaving Bernie Sanders on the outside looking in, again.
If I were putting odds on it, I’d say Biden has a 90% shot of pulling it off. FiveThirtyEight has “No One” as the statistical leader at 61% right now. That means Democrats would have to go to at least a second ballot. That could be true, but right now, Biden has the clear momentum. The 10% hesitancy I have is that there’s one more debate in Arizona. If I were the Democratic Party, I’d cancel it. But they’re going through with it. And in a debate with fewer people to hide behind, Biden could implode. Or something else could happen. Nothing about this primary season has been linear — change is always around the corner.
I’ll share some more thoughts on what happened and whether or not this was the Democratic establishment forcing its will on people—links to follow.
Where you can find me this week
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Autopsy of an Impeachment: How and why the Democrats failed – The Dispatch
My debut piece for The Dispatch, the new news site of Steve Hayes and Jonah Goldberg. I attempt to strip down the entire impeachment and show what was genuinely animating the process, and not the daily news cycle. Hayes called it, a “comprehensive look … at how speed and partisanship doomed Democrats’ impeachment efforts.” And Goldberg said, “Save this for a long read.” They were both very complimentary, along with the entire Dispatch team. Give it a read and subscribe to their newsletters! I may or may not be framing those tweets.
This week on the show, host Daniel Vaughan talks through the coronavirus outbreak in the United States and what to make of the latest infection stories in Washington, New York, and Florida. Also, he covers Pete Buttigieg dropping out of the Democratic primaries and what to make of Joe Biden’s dominant win in South Carolina.
One of the dynamics that became clear about Bernie Sanders was that Democrats didn’t see him as just some crank — they saw him, finally, like a crazy politician. Will that be enough to stop him from winning the nomination? We’ll see. But Democrats finally acknowledged the socialist threat of Sanders.
One of my major issues with this COVID-19/coronavirus outbreak is that the national media’s coverage of it has been so inadequate. Especially when you compare it to local news coverage. Without local journalists reporting the truth, we wouldn’t get any real information on this virus from the national media, who are focused on politicizing every aspect of it.
Joe Biden won South Carolina. Then Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar both dropped out and endorsed Biden. Super Tuesday sees Biden tear up the field, winning across the board and leaving the day with both the delegate and popular vote leads in the primaries. Michael Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren are out now, leaving just a two-man race: Sanders versus Biden (Tulsi Gabbard is technically still running).
It’s a stunning turn of events in this primary season. And from the outside looking in, conventional wisdom in DC is that Biden’s victory is a sign that the Democratic Establishment is strong and dictating terms. It’s well-known that Bernie Sanders is disliked across most quarters of the Democratic Party, and the ease with which the media is unleashing everything against him suggests that Democrats want him out of the race.
Matt Lewis, conservative contributor for the Daily Beast and CNN, summed up the mainstream mindset right now:
It’s clear that Democrats have MUCH better control over their party than Republicans did in 2016. This is for the good of the country.
I get why this is conventional wisdom. At first blush, it seems right. But I’m not sure it’s 100% correct and overstates the case that the Democratic Party orchestrated Biden’s comeback victory at the expense of Sanders. To be sure, you can look at events like party leader endorsements and the party pushing candidates to drop out (Buttigieg/Klobuchar) as the establishment trying to force the field to winnow, to enhance their lane to victory.
But that doesn’t tell the whole story.
For starters, what happened in South Carolina was a unique set of circumstances. Joe Biden was the only candidate competing for black voters in that state — where nearly 60% of the Democratic primary electorate is black. Bernie Sanders, who got obliterated in the South by black voters choosing Clinton over him in 2016, had four years to reach out to black voters and try to gain their trust and support. He didn’t do it.
If you go back and look at polls during that time, Biden’s only competition for black voters was Michael Bloomberg, who wasn’t on the ballot in South Carolina. Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders couldn’t get an inch with black voters. That made South Carolina the perfect storm for a Biden comeback. The only way to defeat him here was for Bernie to make inroads, and it’s clear so far in 2020, Sanders hasn’t grown his coalition or ceiling.
With South Carolina in the bag, and Bloomberg imploding from two awful debates, Biden was able to make the case he was the only candidate left with a path. Six of the fourteen states on Super Tuesday contained sizeable black voting populations in them. Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and Warren didn’t have a chance.
In that respect, this turnaround for Biden was less about the establishment dictating terms — and more to do with the establishment listening to one of their core constituencies, black voters, and following their lead. Was the establishment acting? Yes. But the action didn’t happen until there were clear signals that black voters still wanted to go with Biden in South Carolina. With that being the case, the party worked to clear the field for Biden to defeat Sanders.
That wasn’t possible in 2016. Trump had a much larger and more diverse coalition in 2016. Ted Cruz didn’t have a path forward after losing in South Carolina but demanded he be considered the runnerup, despite having nothing real to offer in the way of a challenge to Trump (their support overlapped and Trump had the more extensive base).
I could go on ranting about what happened in 2016. But suffice it to say, party strength doesn’t explain what happened with Democrats. And you can prove this by looking to Congress. Nancy Pelosi has little control over the left-fringe of her coalition. She couldn’t even get her caucus to condemn anti-Semitism. This is not a strong party. It’s a party that had a weak frontrunner in Sanders, and a robust demographic block that wanted Biden.
And you can tell why the other candidates lost black voters when they talk about why their candidate lost. Bernie Sanders blamed the media and the establishment for distorting who he is to voters. Elizabeth Warren and her supporters blame sexism for why they lost. The far-left can’t look at itself as the reason for losing; it has to blame everyone else.
In this case, if you’re blaming the establishment for why you lost (Sanders), what you’re saying is that black voters only do what the establishment tells them. Bill de Blasio, a prominent Sanders supporter, hinted that the reason Sanders lost the black vote was that they’re low information voters. Put all this together, and you can see why Sanders could win any support: if you don’t support him, you’re low-information and a stooge.
Elizabeth Warren is all but calling black voters sexist for not voting for her. Remember, this same voting block nominated Hilary Clinton in 2016 and voted for her in the general election. Black voters pushed Clinton over the finish line in 2016 against Sanders. They’re doing the same with Biden here. That’s not sexism — it’s Warren just being an awful candidate.
In a way, if you want to see a form of racism against blacks in the Democratic Party, this is a prime example. These candidates spent a lot of time pandering to black voters, but they never respected them at any point. Warren and Sanders never tried to win this vital voting bloc (same for Buttigieg and Klobuchar), and it cost them dearly. That’s not the fault of the establishment, the media, or anyone else. That’s the fault of the candidates and their campaign.
Biden won because he tried to win a critical demographic and build a coalition. It worked. It’s always worked because that’s how you win campaigns. The Democratic Party isn’t a stronger party than the Republican Party. Democrats just have a strong base that said “No!” to the extreme candidate running and pushed everyone to a more moderate candidate.
And if you believe, as I do, that socialism should get defeated at every level — whether primary or general election, it’s an excellent sight to see a socialist lose.
Links of the week
Elizabeth Warren’s candidacy failed because voters saw through her – Philip Klein, The Washington Examiner
No Deal Is Better Than a Bad Deal: And a bad deal is what we got with the Taliban. – Thomas Joscelyn, The Dispatch
Early voting is a terrible idea, and California’s primary proves it – Jonah Goldberg, LA Times
Democrats have fix in against Bernie Sanders? Give me a break! – John Podhoretz, NYPost
Twitter Thread(s) of the week
Satire piece of the week
CHEROKEE NATION—Having dropped out of the presidential race, Elizabeth Warren rode in solitude back to her reservation, having failed to take the land back from the pale faces.
“I am sorry, my people. I have failed,” she said somberly, a single tear rolling down her cheek. “The white man still holds our land, and the very trees cry out against them. May Great Spirit grant us another chance in 4 harvests.” The Cherokee people looked confused, so she clarified: “That means years according to the Indian talk book I picked up.”
Thanks for reading!