If it was possible to be a fly-on-the-wall in the White House today, one could have seen President Donald Trump rubbing his hands in glee. After all, it is not every day that the opposition candidate you are looking forward to maul is handed to you on the platter by the party that the candidate represents.
The Super-Tuesday, the most important day of the Democratic Primaries in the US Polls, has thrown the result the Democratic National Committee (DNC) wanted. After initial few weeks where DNC’s preferred candidates—called “Establishment Democrats” in the parlance of the American politics—were getting smacked by Senator Bernie Sanders, the Establishment Democrats finally decided to pull the carpet from underneath Bernie Sanders.
As the polls come to close in 14 states, ex-Vice President Joe Biden—Establishment Democrats’ blue-eyed boy—is expected to push his tally of delegates to above 670. In comparison, Sanders is expected to reach a total of less than 590. While on the face of it this tally looks competitive, Sanders’ chances of winning the Democratic nomination are now close to zero.
So how did it reach here? After all, just a week or so ago, Joe Biden was languishing at the bottom of the table among the serious contenders. He had lost the first three primaries and caucuses before recovering some momentum at South Carolina. Tellingly, this was Biden’s first-ever victory in any poll in his four decades of active politics. However, that was not enough to put him in the top three.
Under the circumstances, Super Tuesday was looking way out of reach not only or him but also for other Establishment candidates such as Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar. At the other end of the spectrum, Bernie Sanders was scoring massively above not only the other “Progressive” candidate, Elizabeth Warren, but all the others too. Super Tuesday was up for grabs and sources were predicting Sanders to bag well over 800 delegates in his kitty by the time polls closed in California, the state sending the highest number of delegates and where the poll closes last.
Sanders knew that for him to be given the Democratic ticket, not only did he have to have the highest delegates; he had to have the majority of them. Failing to do so would have meant that Democratic Establishment would have asked the Superdelegates—unelected representatives who hold sway in the DNC—to choose from their preferred candidate, one who would be closest to Sanders in the delegate count.
A clear-cut majority for Sanders would have rendered this exercise meaningless. And now that Sanders, by all predictions, is not expected to get the majority, he might as well say bye-bye to his candidature altogether.
So how did DNC pull the carpet from under Sanders? Predictably, via below-the-belt tactics. While it pressurised Buttigieg and Klobuchar, who were cutting into Establishment votes, to withdraw their candidature in favour of Biden, it possibly struck a deal with Elizabeth Warren to not withdraw and split the progressive votes that could have gone to Sanders. She also went after the jugular vein of Sanders in debates and rallies while pulling punches when came to attacking the Establishment Democrats. And the result is telling.
The withdrawals of candidacy by Buttigieg and Klobuchar and the failure to do so by Warren have given the landslide to Biden. Take for example Texas that sends a massive 228 delegates. Just a day ago, Sanders was not only leading the state with insurmountable margin, but the others also were not even able to cross the 15 per cent threshold. Failing so would have meant that Sanders would have bagged all 228 of them. However, with Buttigieg and Klobuchar transferring their votes to Biden and Warren splitting Sanders’, the former pipped the latter by over three percentage points. Warren got close to 12 per cent votes that would have seamlessly transferred to Sanders had she withdrawn.
The same scenario repeated itself across Arkansas, Maine, Minnesota and Virginia. It is difficult to say if Warren will ever be able to recover politically from the way she disgraced herself. The farce was complete when it turned out that she even failed to win her home state of Massachusetts where she came third behind not only Biden but Sanders too. In all probability, she will withdraw her candidature, and for the optics purposes might even lend support to Sander’s campaign, but the damage has been done and she is the one responsible.
As for Biden, his campaign has resurrected with the unfair play by the Establishment Democrats. However, he has his own strengths as well. Biden’s popularity among the African American voters was on display in the southern USA where they form a bulk of Primary voters. This made him win Alabama, Tennessee, Oklahoma and North Carolina. What’s more, if this support sustains, which it will, he will also win upcoming polls in Mississippi, Georgia and possibly Florida too where African American voters are in substantial numbers.
Biden is also doing strong among older White-males and Suburban voters. Sanders is doing exceptionally well among Hispanics, younger voters and first-timers. However, things will complicate when the presidential polls open. Sanders has till now managed to bring in new voters and those Democrats who normally sit-out the polls to the booths.
If an Establishment Dinosaur like Biden, who is in his early stages of senile decay by all accounts, gets the Democratic ticket, these voters will likely not come out and vote. The demographics that Biden represent, like older voters and white males, have no particular aversion to Sanders, for he himself is old and White. African Americans would have also likely rallied behind someone who is a counterfoil to Trump’s racism, but the same cannot be said about those voting for Sanders. These groups abhor Establishment Democrats of which Biden is a personification. Therefore, while Biden’s supporter base could have seamlessly transferred itself to Sanders; the vice versa is next to impossible. And there lies the death-knell of the Democratic Party.
So, if President Trump is rubbing his hands in glee, Establishment Democrats have no rights to complain. They have brought this upon themselves.