Monday, March 16, 2020

The Resurrection of Joe Biden. What Happened?

In less than two weeks, Joe Biden went from near political death to a resurrection that put him on an apparently secure track for the Democratic nomination. What caused that extraordinary recovery and momentum?

A correlation of forces that defined the Democratic electorate in 2020 received a series of jolts from February 19 to March 3 that launched a change that was unprecedented in modern presidential nomination history. Repeated polls showed a majority of Democrats wanted to beat President Trump, not start a revolution or class war. They were looking for a unifier more than a disrupter, an experienced, reassuring professional, not an outsider. The events that moved the Party:

Nevada Debate
The Nevada debate started the political shift when Elizabeth Warrant eviscerated Michael Bloomberg and ended his viability as a substitute for Biden.

Nevada Primary
Next, the Nevada primary’s 30-point win for Sanders panicked the Democratic Party establishment, who believed Bernie Sanders would be a disaster in a general election. Candidates and establishment figures began attacking Sanders, starting with Pete Buttigieg, and even including Sanders’s mostly supportive colleague, Elizabeth Warren.

South Carolina and Clyburn Endorsement
Representative Jim Clyburn’s endorsement of Biden calmed and focused the South Carolina electorate and was the catalyst for Biden’s huge 30 percent run at the finish. Biden’s sweeping win (a reversal of Nevada) puts in place the resurrection narrative that Democratic voters and its establishment were waiting for.

Buttigieg and Klobuchar Endorsements
Amy Klobuchar’s and Pete Buttigieg’s pre-Election Day endorsements added more velocity to Biden’s momentum.

Super Tuesday
Joe Biden at his Super Tuesday night rally in
Los Angeles, Calif., March 3, 2020 | Mike Blake/Reuters
Biden’s sweep of Super Tuesday – winning 10 out of 14 states – included places he hadn’t campaigned and had no resources.

The astonishment of it may have been best described by David Brooks as a cultural phenomenon where a community of people are anxiously waiting for an event or person to send a signal and they react in unison.

“In my years of covering politics I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like what happened in the 48 hours after South Carolina — millions of Democrats from all around the country, from many different demographics, turning as one and arriving at a common decision.

It was like watching a flock of geese or a school of fish, seemingly leaderless, sensing some shift in conditions, sensing each other’s intuitions, and smoothly shifting direction en masse.” (David Brooks, NY Times, March 8, 2010

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