On February 29th, following his win in South Carolina, former Vice President Joe Biden solidified himself as the Democratic establishment’s darling candidate for the 2020 nomination.
In the run-up to South Carolina, the Democratic National Convention (DNC) flirted with other moderate options beyond the seemingly senile Mr. Biden. They looked at Mayor Pete for his youth and remarkable ability to charm the press. They looked at Senator Warren whose policies enticed the “woke” liberal camp of the party (a segment with increasing prominence) without the threatening label of socialism; plus, she’s a woman, another box for the establishment to check. However, one candidate that the DNC refuses to even glance at is Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
As a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist, Bernie Sanders will almost never present himself, in this political climate, as a viable option for the DNC. This is despite CNN exit polls proving that the Democratic and Independent voter populace wants policies like Medicare for All, a Sanders staple. In fact, in all 23 states that have held primary voting, the number one issue for Democratic and Independent voters has been healthcare. This, coupled with the fact that 21 of those same states showed significant support for a “government plan for all instead of private insurance” should have placed Sanders in great shape, but it hasn’t.
When looking at these same exit polls, another trend shines through. 22 out of the 23 current primary states had a significant majority of voters claim that it was more important to have a candidate that could beat Donald Trump than a candidate who had policies they could get behind. These same polls are showing that the American people believe that the candidate to do that is Joe Biden, not Bernie Sanders. This is where the DNC comes in.
The DNC is the governing body for the democratic party, a body that strives to represent the old school values of the party. As such, the DNC typically supports the old school Democrats, or those that have policy points that are already in line with preexisting democratic policy from previous administrations. This explains why in 2016, almost all of the DNCs superdelegates, the unpledged delegates present at the national convention, sided with Hillary Clinton, a fine representative of the “status quo” they hoped to preserve. To have the “radical” minded Sanders would cause an inalterable shift in democratic politics, a shift that the DNC is unwilling to make.
In the 2020 election, Politico has already been reporting attempts by DNC members to gain “support for a plan to potentially weaken Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign and head off a brokered convention.” The DNC wants to present a united front against the Senator and unfortunately, if 2016 is any indication, they can do so with the help of superdelegates.
When Bernie began to gain momentum at the start of this primary process, it was remarkable to watch as establishment figures, including former President Obama, denounced his chances of ever beating President Donald Trump despite firm evidence in both 2016 and 2020 showing that Bernie would win in an election against Trump (Real Clear Politics Polls) . Furthermore, many candidates began to question Bernie’s right to the nomination as they claimed he would not be able to achieve a majority of the delegates come July (this of course being the preferred outcome for the DNC as voting would then fall to the superdelegates).
Popular vote be damned. When choosing between the Senator and the former Vice President, there was no contest for the convention. Despite Biden’s remarkably weak finishes in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada, his win in South Carolina allowed the DNC the perfect opportunity to get behind the former VP and squeeze out Sanders. Out of nowhere endorsements from influential moderates began to flood in just days before Super Tuesday. Endorsements from the likes of Pete Buttigieg (who was beating Joe Biden at this point in the primary), Amy Klobuchar, and Beto O’Rourke helped to give Joe Biden his now trademarked “joe-mentum” pushing Sanders from the spotlight.
While it is extremely apparent to many that the DNC obviously orchestrated the endorsements that have given Joe Biden his momentum, nothing can be done to reverse the damage to the Sanders campaign. Joe Biden won Super Tuesday. However, it is too early to count Sanders out as his policies continue to poll extremely well unilaterally and he continues to draw large fervent crowds at his rallies. There is still hope that the candidate with broadly supported policy plans can be elected the next President.