Joe Biden is finished? Donald trump will be re-elected for sure? After the “Super Tuesday” surprises, you can ignore those predictions.
Good afternoon from Washington.
The campaign for the White House is, roughly speaking, a two-year affair, that’s how long the cycles in US politics are, but sometimes the race tips over in three days.
And that’s how it happened in this stunning week. I was in California for Super Tuesday. The most populous state was the biggest prize to win on Super Tuesday. I wanted to study the triumph of Bernie Sanders up close, which all observers here were waiting for. The main question was how big it would be: Would he be able to outrun his rival and stay in the race? This was the situation when I got off the plane at noon on Sunday.
Three days later, on election night in Los Angeles, I was actually standing in front of a big winner, only the man’s name was not Sanders, but Joseph Rubinette Biden Jr.
I am too young to have experienced the boxing comeback of Muhammad Ali, but now I was witnessing the greatest resurrection in recent US political history.
From initial favorite to mocked death and then back to a shining winner: I had described Joe Biden’s months in an earlier text as a rollercoaster ride, but that was a gross understatement.
On election night, Biden invited me to a basketball court in Los Angeles in the Baldwin Hills district, where I experienced him as a man who could hardly believe his luck. When he listed the states where he had won, he shouted “Minnesota” with such verve as if he wanted to move there himself. No wonder: He hadn’t even campaigned in Minnesota. He had only a fraction of Sanders’ ads in Texas and won there as well. He did not win California, but he won 10 of the other 13 states.
The magic word is endorsement. Competitor Pete Buttigieg retired on Sunday, Amy Klobuchar on Monday and together with Beto O’Rourke, who had already retired in the fall, they called on their supporters to vote for Biden. Without these endorsements, Biden would not have won Klobuchar’s home state of Minnesota or Texas, whose Democrats O’Rourke adores.
In last week’s column, I had prepared you a bit for Biden to be back in the race. But I hadn’t expected to see the force with which moderate candidates would gather behind him after his victory in South Carolina on Saturday and how this would make up for Biden’s disadvantages on “Super Tuesday” (less money, less publicity, less helpers). Neither did Bernie Sanders …
Biden was elected by the African-Americans in the South, by the middle class in the suburbs, tired of the Trump chaos, as well as by older citizens – this is a coalition of voters that can carry you far.
For a long time, the Democrats’ pre-election campaign was marvelled at above all at the diversity of the candidates: several African Americans were in the race, a handful of women, a Latino, a homosexual, a son of Taiwanese immigrants who wanted to pay each citizen a basic income of 1,000 dollars.
But what remained were two old white men.
Bernie Sanders (78) is the candidate for all those who think that something is fundamentally wrong in the country. His promise: Everything will be different. He is not only campaigning against the Republicans and the “class of billionaires”, but also against the Democratic party establishment. That’s why the fact that the party migrants are gathering behind Biden is not only inconvenient – it fits into his story “Me against the powerful”.
Joe Biden (77) is the man for all those who want to go back to quieter times, who have fond memories of the Obama years (which are suddenly called Obama Biden years) and for whom a socialist on the ballot is too left-wing. His promise: Everything will be the same, just a little better. He now also has the class president of the billionaires, Mike Bloomberg and his resources, on his side.
The duel is open, and whoever wins determines the party’s course – here in the USA there are no program party conventions, only coronation party conventions for the candidate. And whoever is crowned determines the course. On Tuesday the next six states will vote.
With Sanders as his opponent, Trump would have an easy time campaigning against the, to put it casually, “left-wing nuts”. A socialist who threatens prosperity and the economy is an excellent bogeyman for many older voters or for those in the middle who care about the economy. But Sanders, like Trump, has an enthusiastic base that is loyal to her candidate – no matter what her opponents say or what the media reports. A giant pound in the election campaign.