by Erick Johnson,
Joe Biden vaulted near the top of the Democratic primary race riding a wave of Black support on Super Tuesday, and stunning rival Bernie Sanders on a wild night that turned the primary into a two-man contest and forced billionaire Michael Bloomberg to drop out.
Biden, who shared deep ties to Black voters as vice president for President Barack Obama, captured 10 of 14 states, many of which have large Black electorates. As of press time Wednesday, March 4, Biden led with 553 delegates to Sanders’ 488.
Those numbers are likely to change as votes continue to be counted in California, the biggest prize, where 415 delegates are at state. News outlets declared Sanders the winner moments after the polls closed.
Biden captured Alabama, Arkansas, Minnesota, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Massachusetts and Maine. Biden won the southern states largely with the help of Black voters, many of whom are older moderate and conservative citizens, who are turned off by Sanders’ Democratic socialist platform.
Perhaps the biggest reason for Black support is Biden’s experience as Obama’s vice president. He served the nation’s first Black president for eight years, from 2008 to 2016.
Biden’s campaign for the White House began with high hopes in a crowded field of candidates. With lackluster performances in nationally televised debates, Biden’s appeal began to decline in opinion polls. He won just six delegates in Iowa, 0 in New Hampshire and 6 in Nevada. Languishing below his rivals, Biden’s presidential outlook looked bleak.
Biden’s chances rose dramatically on February 29 in the South Carolina primary.
The state’s large Black electorate flooded the polls to give Biden a dominating victory that set in motion his stunning rise in the Democratic race. With 49 percent of the vote, Biden gained 38 delegates and climbed near the top where he was second only to Sanders.
Two days later Democratic opponents Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar dropped out of the race and immediately endorsed Biden. On Thursday, March 5, Elizabeth Warren dropped out of the race.
But it was Biden’s Black voter support that saved his dying campaign and turned his white hopes around.
Buttigieg and Klobuchar, who received little to no support from Black voters, failed to get any delegates in South Carolina. Buttigieg spent more time and money in South Carolina than any other candidate but his efforts fell flat. Throughout his campaign, Black Lives Matter activists protested at Buttigieg’s rallies, reminding the South Bend, Indiana mayor of the disenfranchised Black residents, and the police shootings in his city.
On Wednesday, March 4, one day after he failed to reap the benefits of his $500 million personal investment in his presidential campaign, Bloomberg dropped out of the race.
“Three months ago, I entered the race to defeat Donald Trump,” Bloomberg tweeted after meeting with his inner circle of advisers in Manhattan Wednesday morning. “Today, I’m leaving for the same reason. Defeating Trump starts with uniting behind the candidate with the best shot to do it. It’s clear that is my friend and a great American, Joe Biden.”
Super Tuesday was Bloomberg’s first appearance on the ballot after he skipped the caucuses and primaries in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. With his self-funded, record setting financial campaign, Bloomberg placed his bets on Super Tuesday.
Steve Benjamin, the Black mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, supported Bloomberg, who at the beginning of his campaign, apologized for his “Stop and Frisk” campaign of stopping and arresting Blacks and minorities while he was mayor of New York. Many Blacks felt his apology was disingenuous and came too late.
Trying to win Black voters, Bloom- berg unveiled his economic justice plan to bring more jobs to Black communities where there are few homeowners and Black-owned businesses. Despite these efforts, Black voters did not bite.
The race between Biden and Sanders shares similarities with the Democratic race between Clinton and Sanders in 2016.
In that race Blacks supported Clinton while progressive, young and middle-aged white voters and Latinos backed Sanders. There is concern on both sides of this year’s primary that Biden and Sanders would struggle to reach other voters outside their voter demographic block.
Sanders on Super Tuesday did not draw as many young millennials to the polls like 2016. Their low-turnout is the reason political analysts say Sanders did poorly in many states.
However, between the top two Democratic candidates, Sanders is the only one who has publicly supported reparations for slavery to Black American descendants. Biden hasn’t made any substantial campaign promises to help Black America. His deep tie to Obama is his greatest claim for drawing Black voter support at the polls.
While people of color continue to keep his White House hopes alive, questions remain as to what Biden will do for Blacks in exchange. Black leaders across America have yet to make demands of Biden to help people of color.
The Democratic race now turns to March 10 where Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, and Washington will hold their primaries.
But the next biggest showdown is March 17 or Super Tuesday II, where Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Georgia and Arizona all hold their primaries with a total of 682 delegates up for grabs.
Florida, Georgia and Illinois have some of the largest Black electorates in the country.
DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE Joe Biden speaks at a rally after his stunning comeback on Super Tuesday. (Screenshot from YouTube)