Super Tuesday is the biggest date in the Democratic primary calendar, with 14 states voting across the nation and around 40% of all delegates at stake.
Joe Biden emerged as the front-runner, staging an impressive comeback following a fifth-place finish in the New Hampshire primary. He managed to sustain the momentum from a surprisingly large victory in the South Carolina primary, winning 10 of the 14 states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
The former Vice President was successful throughout the South, running up big margins in Alabama, Virginia, Arkansas and North Carolina. Strong support from black voters was the bedrock of his success in the region, like in South Carolina, where the state’s influential black congressman, James Clyburn, endorsed Biden.
Biden also benefitted from endorsements from former Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Amy Klobuchar, who both dropped out on the eve of voting. In Klobuchar’s home state, Minnesota, the race appeared to be a toss-up between her and Bernie Sanders. It ended up being a near double-digit Biden win. These endorsements, along with those from other party figures, clearly contributed to Biden’s remarkable comeback.
Super Tuesday delivered a heavy and unexpected blow for the erstwhile front-runner, Bernie Sanders. Despite winning his home state of Vermont, as well as California, Colorado and Utah, Sanders lost Oklahoma and Minnesota, where he had beaten Hillary Clinton in 2016, and Texas, where he had campaigned hard and polls predicted victory.
The loss underlines the extent to which many Democrats appear to be uneasy with the idea of Sanders as the nominee, as well as the ability of the Vermont senator’s ability to win over black voters – something that condemned him against Clinton in 2016.
Sanders, however, dominated the under-29 vote, winning 65% to Biden’s 17%. His coalition of voters is also no longer just white liberals, as it largely was in 2016, but is strong amongst Latino voters, particularly among the young. Sanders could yet prevail in a battle that is now a two-horse race.
Super Tuesday was disappointing for Mike Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren. After spending more than $500 million, the former New York City Mayor did not manage to make any significant breakthrough and dropped out the race the following morning. Senator Elizabeth Warren trailed in third place in her home state of Massachusetts and didn’t come close to winning in any other state, facing relegation to fourth place in a number of contests.
As well as narrowing the race to a two-way contest, the Super Tuesday results dampened the thesis that Democratic voters are alienated from their party establishment.
Sander’s supporters have insisted for some time that he is the kind of outsider that the nation needs. But the Democratic establishment proved much more resilient than expected. In fact, the prospect of the Vermont senator becoming nominee seemed to galvanise moderate Democrats, who fear that he is unelectable against President Trump in November.
Final delegates are yet to be allocated, but Biden has an overall edge in delegates. Last week, it was predicted that Sanders would achieve an impregnable lead on Super Tuesday. Nothing close to that has happened and Biden is abruptly the front-runner once again.