Biden Revives Campaign, Winning Nine States, but Sanders Takes California
Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, New York Times, March 3, 2020
The Democratic presidential race emerged from Super Tuesday with two clear front-runners as Joseph R. Biden Jr. won Texas, Virginia, North Carolina and at least six other states, largely through support from African-Americans and moderates, while Senator Bernie Sanders harnessed the backing of liberals and young voters to claim the biggest prize of the campaign, California, and several other primaries.
Mr. Biden’s victories came chiefly in the South and the Midwest, and in some of them he won by unexpectedly wide margins. In a surprising upset, Mr. Biden even captured Ms. Warren’s home state of Massachusetts, where he did not appear in person, and where Mr. Sanders had campaigned aggressively in recent days.
It was a remarkable show of force for Mr. Biden, the former vice president. In just three days he resurrected a campaign that had been on the verge of collapse after he lost the first three nominating states. But he bounced back with a landslide win in South Carolina on Saturday, and on Tuesday, in addition to victories in Texas,Virginia, North Carolina and Massachusetts, he prevailed in Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Minnesota.
Mr. Sanders rebounded late in the evening in delegate-rich Western states: He was quickly declared the winner in Colorado and Utah after polls closed there, and he also claimed the largest delegate lode of the primary race, California, The Associated Press reported. Mr. Sanders also easily carried his home state of Vermont.
Yet Mr. Biden’s sweep of states across the South and the Midwest showed he had the makings of a formidable coalition that could propel him through the primaries. As he did in South Carolina, Mr. Biden rolled to victory in several states with the support of large majorities of African-Americans. And he also performed well with a demographic that was crucial to the party’s success in the 2018 midterm elections: college-educated white voters.
For his part, Mr. Sanders continued to show strength with the voters who have made up his political base: Latinos, liberals and those under age 40. But he struggled to expand his appeal with older voters and African-Americans.
The results also called into question Mr. Sanders’s decision to spend valuable time over the past week campaigning in both Minnesota and Massachusetts, two states where he had hoped to embarrass rivals on their home turf. The gambit proved badly flawed: It was Mr. Biden who pulled off upset wins in both states, with the help of a last-minute endorsement from Senator Amy Klobuchar that upended the race in Minnesota.
The early returns were a comprehensive setback for Mr. Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, who entered the race late and spent more than half a billion dollars on an aggressive advertising campaign. But Mr. Bloomberg slumped badly after a series of damaging clashes with Ms. Warren, and many moderates and African-Americans appeared to have abandoned him for Mr. Biden. Hours into vote-counting, Mr. Bloomberg had won only one contest, in American Samoa.
Addressing supporters in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Tuesday night, Mr. Bloomberg tried to put the best face on a dismal evening. “Here’s what is clear,” he said. “No matter how many delegates we win tonight, we have done something no one else thought was possible: In just three months, we’ve gone from 1 percent in the polls to being a contender for the Democratic nomination for president.” Still, Mr. Bloomberg planned to review Tuesday’s results and decide his path forward in the race, people familiar with the campaign’s plans said.
Mr. Sanders was on track to rack up delegates in California, but he was sharing some of them with Mr. Biden in his own state of Vermont. And in Colorado, another state Mr. Sanders carried, he was dividing them four ways, as he, Mr. Biden, Mr. Bloomberg and Ms. Warren all reached the 15 percent threshold to win delegates there.
Few presidential candidates have endured the political roller coaster Mr. Biden has found himself riding in recent weeks. After finishing a distant fourth in Iowa and then coming in fifth in New Hampshire, he was short on money, in danger of losing support to Mr. Bloomberg and facing a do-or-die primary in South Carolina.
Yet after shaking up his campaign and installing a longtime adviser, Anita Dunn, as his chief strategist, Mr. Biden was able to claw back into contention by finishing second in Nevada. Then, after two solid debate performances during which his ascendant rivals were the ones under attack, he picked up a crucial endorsement: Representative James E. Clyburn, the highest-ranking African-American in Congress and the most influential South Carolina Democrat, came out for Mr. Biden at an emotional news conference.
With Mr. Clyburn’s imprimatur, Mr. Biden built a considerable advantage with black voters that propelled him to a 28-point rout in South Carolina.
His big victory immediately prompted what Mr. Biden had been seeking for months: a flood of support from Democratic leaders, donors and his onetime rivals. By Monday night, just 48 hours after what was his first victory over three separate presidential runs, Mr. Biden was at the rally in Dallas, gaining the endorsements of his three former opponents.