The battle to the nomination

The race to Democratic nominee continues, as the front-runner shifts

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Photo by Carter Marks

The race to the nomination is rapidly changing, as a new frontrunner emerges, Joe Biden.

Elizabeth Hahn, Entertainment Editor

Politics is a dangerous game. At one moment, someone’s campaign could be on the verge of tasting victory only to be beat out in the polls soon after feeling so confident. The craziness has not stopped in the 2020 elections, especially for the Democratic candidates. As potential nominations drop out, this election has been a rollercoaster right from the start, but it got even more interesting following Super Tuesday.

In the beginning of the primary and caucus process, many people thought Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was sure to get the nomination. He was winning state after state, however, former Vice President Joe Biden has largely gained support among moderate voters. Super Tuesday was when it all changed. While it seemed like Sanders was surely going to be our nominee, the tables have turned and it’s looking promising for Biden.

Possibly the biggest factor in Biden’s catapult forward in the polls came when a string of Democratic candidates dropped out of the race. Former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Businessman Michael Bloomberg and Senator Elizabeth Warren all recently ended their campaigns, not foreseeing a favorable outcome if they were to keep going. 

Of course, less competition is less competition. However, Biden was strengthened even further when Buttigieg, Klobuchar and Bloomberg endorsed him following their respective announcements ending their run. All three encouraged their supporters to turn to Biden and cast their votes for him in the upcoming primaries and caucuses. Other notable endorsements have included former Texas Representative Beto O’Rourke, former Maryland Representative John Delaney and Senator Kamala Harris, according to the Business Insider article “Candidates who’ve dropped out of the presidential race are endorsing either Biden or Sanders. Here’s whose side they’re on and why.” Recently, former candidates Andrew Yang and Cory Booker also voiced their support for Biden’s campaign.

Biden also won big on Super Tuesday. This day is what can make or break a campaign, as 14 states cast their votes in primaries and caucuses that day. To win Super Tuesday puts a candidate in a desirable place heading toward the Democratic National Convention, where the delegates and superdelegates cast their votes. Politico’s record of the results of the states who voted that day show Biden winning 10 states to Sanders’ four. He was also able to claim victory in four more states following what a lot of people are calling Super Tuesday II. Leading up to these, Biden was far behind and wasn’t picking up very much momentum, however this surge in delegates will likely help pull more support into his campaign.

Probably the biggest reason people see Biden’s campaign as more attractive than Sanders’ is because of the moderate views it holds. When running a campaign, candidates must try to capture the “electoral sweet spot.” Gallup’s examination of political ideologies in “The U.S. Remained Center-Right, Ideologically, in 2019” shows that moderates are the second largest group of voters in the US, with an average of 35% of Americans identifying this way in 2019. Moderates can really go either way, so it is important for candidates to try to rope these people into their campaigns.

Sanders fails to capture this support with his far left policies. He is running on Medicare For All and free college, but people continue to wonder how all this “free stuff” will be paid for. Taking this approach is hurting his campaign. Voters in the middle of the spectrum are not going to want to elect a candidate with far left, liberal policies that could raise their taxes. Sanders has also been accused of being a socialist, which does not help to encourage moderate voters either. In order to bring in these types of people, someone running on policies that don’t stray too far away from the middle has a better chance of victory.

Moderate candidates, like Buttigieg and Klobuchar, have already voiced their support for Biden. Their backing will most likely transfer to his campaign. A study conducted by Pew Research Center found that 31% of the Democrats surveyed described Biden’s policies as moderate and 20% even went as far as to say they were conservative. Pulling in the truly middle, conservative-leaning, and liberal-leaning moderates is what is going to make or break each’s campaign.

Another problem Sanders faces is the superdelegates. Unlike delegates who are required to vote however their district votes, superdelegates are not tied down by this rule. They can vote for whatever candidate they choose. It has been clear from the very beginning that the Democratic Party doesn’t want Sanders to be president. He has struggled to receive endorsements from big party names and the media usually attempts to shine a negative light on him. The New York Times interviewed 93 superdelegates out of the 771 in “Democratic Leaders Willing to Risk Party Damage to Stop Bernie Sanders,” and found an overwhelming opposition to Sanders’ campaign. These voters can make or break the whole convention, and it is not looking very good for Sanders.

I feel as though the Sanders ship has sailed. He is rapidly falling behind and that doesn’t even take into account the fact that he will likely not be able to obtain the superdelegates he would need to win. Biden is surging forward and picking up support from different types of voters. While Sanders’ young band of followers remain strong, it probably won’t be enough to win him the nomination. However, this election process has had a lot of twists and turns, so anything can happen.