The night was wild. And during the night Bernie Sanders under-performed. States he won in 2016 he lost. While he won California, his other firewall, Texas, did not go his way. Both Mike Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren did terribly. Their race is likely over. Bloomberg is now out and I expect Warren to drop out within seventy-two hours. I also expect her to endorse Joe Biden on the way out.
There are a few things that emerged in the exit polling. The most significant in my mind is that people made their minds at the last minute. This means that neither Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden made their case in an overwhelming way. However, the momentum is clearly with the Biden camp.
Another is that the youth vote continues to be a non-reality. Yes, the system is rigged and we need major changes. But this will not happen unless the revolution shows up in overwhelming numbers at the booth. This did not happen. And it is worst for the progressive wing, it way under-performed in states it won in 2016, save California. There they have over-performed. With Bloomberg’s endorsement of Joe Biden on the way out, that blunts the delegate haul for Sanders.
Now here is the truth. Sanders needs to over-perform from this moment on, or he will be in a worst place than he was in 2016 regarding delegates. He’s made the argument that whoever gets the plurality of the delegates, even if they do not reach the majority, should get the nomination on the first round. Well, unless Sanders over-performs, Biden should be the nominee.
The reality is that the country wants change. It is in the exit polls, But they are also afraid of four more years of Donald Trump. My fear is that Trump will win four more years with a moderate Democrat as the standard-bearer. But at this point, it looks like Biden will be the nominee is all said and done. And perhaps the party needs to get behind a candidate sooner rather than later. But that is not my call to make,
It is also the case that Sanders did not make his case with the Africa American block in the Old Dominion. This is a very conservative voting block, and this is not necessarily surprising. This is the same area that Clinton swept four years ago, and the endorsement by Congressman Jim Clyburn did have some of an effect. This is also an area of the country where the clergy still has a lot of sway over that particular voting block. The polling told us that Biden was going to sweep, so he did.
Where Sanders under-performed is in Texas (where voting locations were closed and long lines remain an issue. Of course this could be argued as a form of voter suppression, and this case has a little validity.) He also underperformed in the northern tier states where he won in 2016.
The only way that Sanders can make an argument is if he consistently over-performs from now on. Otherwise, he will come to the floor of the convention with even fewer delegates than he did in 2016. Some in his base will continue to believe all this is rigged. But the reality is that this contest, so far, has been more fair, even if raw politics dominate it.
In my mind, Sanders has also made a few strategic mistakes, but that is neither here or there. Unless he starts to over-perform, it is likely over for the Sanders campaign. It is literally math, and hardball politics. At that level, a lot of sharp elbows are employed.