If you don’t like Mike Bloomberg, Elizabeth Warren, or Bernie Sanders, Super Tuesday night is just delightful so far.
For the past few months, Americans have been living in a fascinating political-science experiment: how far could a campaign carry an uninspiring candidate with essentially unlimited spending and TV ads? Tonight, we got the answer: not very far at all! Bloomberg spent a half-billion dollars to win American Samoa and a handful of delegates here and there across 15 states. It is the most expensive failure in American political history. The 2020 Bloomberg campaign makes the past efforts of H. Ross Perot, Steve Forbes, Michael Huffington, and Jon Corzine look tightfisted.
Bloomberg will reportedly “reassess” his campaign tomorrow morning. What’s left to assess? He’s gotten thrashed just about everywhere he ran, even when enjoyed gargantuan, unprecedented advantages in television advertising. He’s a Rolls-Royce advertising campaign with a Yugo candidate. If he had never debated, he might have remained above the 15 percent threshold in more places.
At this hour, Elizabeth Warren is not merely not winning her home state, she is running third. The networks are projecting a Biden win in Massachusetts. Marco Rubio’s second-place finish in Florida’s GOP primary four years ago was considered an embarrassing defeat, but at least Rubio won Minnesota, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico, and came close in Virginia. Warren probably won’t win any state and may not finish above third in any state. The hype-to-performance ratio of Warren’s 2020 campaign is stunning, on par with Beto O’Rourke in the midterm cycle. Her critics and skeptics were right: Her fans were deluding themselves.
For Bernie Sanders, the bottom just fell out from underneath his feet. The Vermont senator and his campaign probably expected Biden to win the southern primaries, and Sanders didn’t need to win those. But in addition to sweeping the southern states by a wide margin, Biden is winning in Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Minnesota, and he’s above the delegate-threshold line just about everywhere.
Sanders could still salvage the night by winning Texas and California. But overall, the story of Super Tuesday is the utter collapse in momentum for Sanders. The African-American vote has just come out in massive numbers for Biden in state after state, while there’s no sign of that massive wave of new and younger voters that Sanders promised. Bernie still has a good chance of winning the nomination, but the Democratic Party’s establishment pulled its act together at the last minute, and it looks like a long, hard fight all the way to Milwaukee.
For Biden, this night is near-miraculous. Democrats may well end up with some buyer’s remorse; Biden is the same guy who unnerved so many Democrats with his aging appearance, forgetfulness, and gaffes. But the party establishment has put its doubts aside and decided to ride or die with him. After a long, cacophonous noise, the Democratic primary is down to two extremely different candidates.
And hey, Tulsi Gabbard won a delegate in American Samoa!