Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders won the single biggest prize in Super Tuesday’s dramatic slate of primary contests.
With a victory in California, Sanders is on track to reap a large share of the state’s 415 delegates, the Washington Examiner reported. But Sanders underperformed nationwide, as Joe Biden solidified a stunning chain of victories that slowed the momentum of Sanders’ socialist “revolution.”
Sanders wins California
Sanders had been predicted to win California, and voters in the state delivered. Buoyed by strong support from young people and Latinos, Sanders won 33% of the votes in California, while Biden won 25%, with 80% of precincts reporting.
The result was a pronounced improvement for Sanders, who lost the state to Hillary Clinton back in 2016. But by night’s end, Sanders’ win was not a coup de grace, as some had predicted, but merely further justification for him to stay in the race.
It remains unclear exactly how the delegates will be divided up until all the votes are counted, The Hill notes, but Sanders is projected to fall behind Biden in total delegates after the former vice president had an unexpectedly spectacular evening. While Sanders won his home state of Vermont, as well as Utah and Colorado, Biden took the nation by surprise by sweeping 10 states, including Texas, the second-largest delegate prize.
Biden scored impressive wins in the South with robust support from black and older voters — winning Alabama, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas — and he dealt a demoralizing blow to his rivals by also snagging liberal Massachusetts and Minnesota, as well as Maine. He also cleared the 15% threshold in California, thereby denying Sanders the sum total of the state’s 415 delegates.
The former vice president’s comeback capped off a dizzying turnaround that played out in less than a week. Sanders had been seen as the unstoppable frontrunner — and Biden a lost cause — before a resounding victory in South Carolina’s primary Saturday led two of Biden’s rivals, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), to suddenly drop out and endorse him.
Biden likely benefited from the less-crowded field, but he also was the favorite of voters who made up their minds just a few days before voting, according to the Associated Press — a sign that South Carolina’s result, and the subsequent consolidation of the Democratic Party behind Biden, had worked to his advantage. Sanders continued a dismal trend that hobbled him in 2016 and in recent primaries: he struggled to win over African American voters across the South.
Over for Bloomberg — and Bernie too?
Biden swept the black vote, as well as that of older voters and more conservative Democrats, according to the AP. Sanders, as expected, dominated with young people, very liberal voters and Latinos. Those demographics worked to his advantage in states like California, where Sanders swept half of Latino voters, but they failed to translate into a nationwide vindication of his challenge to the Democratic establishment.
The party’s primary is now a contest between two men with dramatically different visions for the country and largely disparate coalitions. Biden, the 77-year old establishment pick, is promising a restoration of the “decency” of pre-Trump America, while Sanders urges more radical change.
The primary-packed day also marked the effective end of the road for former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who suffered a humiliating collapse by garnering just one win — in the American territory of Samoa — after pouring half a billion dollars of his personal fortune into advertising. Bloomberg’s exit will certainly work to the advantage of Biden, whom Bloomberg endorsed and whose prospective failure was something on which Bloomberg had relied.
It’s not over yet for Sanders — but Super Tuesday did not go as he had hoped. At a press conference Wednesday, Sanders struck a defiant tone as he vowed to triumph over Biden’s campaign, which he said was backed by billionaires and a corporate establishment desperate to stop his movement.