Saturday, March 7, 2020

What a Difference a Week Makes

I didn't want to comment on the Super Tuesday Democratic presidential vote until now because, not only did I have a lot of other things I wanted to get off my plate, I wanted to wait and see how the results of Tuesday's voting would unfold.  
And after four days, I never thought it would unfold like this!
A week and change ago, Joe Biden was looking at either a possible loss or merely a narrow win in the South Carolina primary, and when he got the big win he needed, pundits - oh, those silly pundits! - doubted that he wouldn't get a bounce quickly enough to fare well in the Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses just three days after.  When the dust settled, four of his opponents said farewell to the campaign and withdrew as candidates, all but one of them backing Biden.  And while Bernie Sanders is still in the campaign, the polls and the trends indicate that running against Biden will not be as easy for him as running against Hillary Clinton in 2016.  
For one thing, Sanders has to persuade voters why his massive spending proposals make sense at a time when the deficit is skyrocketing and he has no foundation to build them on, thanks to Trump's dismantling of the Obama legacy.  Also, a lot of people who voted for Sanders didn't so much vote for him as vote against Hillary Clinton.  Biden is likely to get more votes simply because more people like him.  Another thing is that Sanders has a problem getting more people to back him.  He should have spent the past several weeks expanding his base and giving skeptical centrist voters reasons to follow him instead of Biden, but he apparently couldn't think of any.  His supporters, though, did give people tons of reasons not to vote for Joe Biden.  Bernie may not have enough people willing to vote for him just because they dislike Biden as passionately as his base does, but for anyone who doesn't like either one of them, there's always Tulsi Gabbard. :-D 
Unless you give Sanders points for being Jewish, Tulsi Gabbard is the last example of diversity in the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination campaign. She's a woman, she's a Hindu, and she's part Samoan.  But she has no chance of wining the nomination and everyone in America knows it.  She's made too many controversial foreign-policy statements, and her domestic-policy positions seem redundant in light of Sanders' campaign.  The departure of Elizabeth Warren has led women to bemoan the failure of any of the female Democratic candidates to become the party's nominee and lament that the United States won't have a female President in 2021.  Some have have blamed misogyny for the failure of the female candidates' campaigns in this cycle.  
Ladies?  At the risk of sounding like I'm "mansplaining" here, let's review.  It's not Amy Klobuchar's fault or Elizabeth Warren's fault that they won't be the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee.  Klobuchar got a lot of momentum, but her failure to capitalize on it had less to do with her campaign abilities than a lamebrained primary/caucus calendar that constrained her.  Neither she nor Warren had the support in South Carolina they needed to go forward.  Warren, the only female candidate to make it to Super Tuesday, only competed in eighteen states.  She might have been a contender at the convention or even won enough delegates for a majority beforehand if the other thirty-two states got to weigh in in a national primary.    I would have voted for either Klobuchar or Warren in November if one of them been nominated.  Despite the underlying fear of a repeat of 2016 - a female presidential nominee losing to Trump - we have to remember that Hillary Clinton was a more polarizing figure than either Klobuchar or Warren, yet she won the popular vote.  Warren would have been a perfect candidate to take on Trump.  Look what she did to Michael Bloomberg.
And that was the really big surprise of the past week.  Bloomberg had the money and the organization, but, as pundits didn't quite figure out until he got out, he didn't have the love and the devotion from voters. Heck, even Martin O'Malley in 2016 had all that!  Bloomberg based his campaign on the idea that the center-left wing of the Democratic Party would abandon Biden, and he calculated that he could fill the gap.  It was all calculation and no passion.  Good grief, people were taking paying jobs with his campaign and actually spent their free time canvassing for someone else, as reported in both the liberal magazine The Nation and the conservative National Review.  But, if you counted the number of Bloomberg supporters who volunteered their own time to the campaign, you'd likely have been disappointed.  
Warren may have gone, but she took Bloomberg down with her in the debates.  But she also did Biden a favor.  Now Mike is ready to help Joe win the White House and defeat Donald Trump by pulling out his wallet and spending lots of money on Biden's behalf.  And that may be Bloomberg's greatest achievement.
And now that the dust has settled, so have I.  Until next time . . . 

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