Super Tuesday is arguably one of the most important days for Democratic candidates on the campaign trail, and the events of March 3, 2020 clearly reflected this ability to ‘make or break’ a campaign. The approximately 1,344 delegates were derived from fourteen states and one territory, including Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and American Samoa.
The allocation of delegates on this day has often set a precedent for how successful a candidate will be among certain demographics throughout the rest of the election season. As expected by many, statistics showed black voters favoring Joe Biden in Southern states, especially Alabama, where 72% of black voters chose him, and Virginia, where he received 69% of black votes. Latino voters favored Bernie Sanders in California, donning him with 49% of the Lation vote, though this didn’t prove true in Texas, where he only got 39%.
Additionally, Super Tuesday—especially this year—wielded the power of narrowing the playing field; in the few days before and after Tuesday, Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, and Michael Bloomberg all dropped out of the race, the latter three publicly endorsing Biden. Biden received a huge boost during Tuesday’s primaries, not just due to the endorsements, but also due to his overwhelming victory, winning the majority of votes in 10 out of the 14 states and, with 566 delegates, pushing him closest to the 1,991 delegates one needs to win the nomination. Sanders, who won four states, trails with 501 delegates. Tulsi Gabbard, still in the race to the confusion of the entire nation, has two delegates.
Super Tuesday offers valuable insight into which candidate will face off against Trump, and this year has shown how internal party politics plays into strategic moves. There is no doubt that the Democratic National Party is leaning towards a more moderate candidate, or rather a candidate who is more representative of their party (as Sanders is more of a Democratic Socialist than a staunch Democrat), such that at this point in the race, their preference is towards Biden. The possibly calculated dropouts of Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and even Bloomberg that have boosted Biden’s chances and in turn harmed Sanders’ may be symptoms of a pressing issue: party infighting and establishmentarianism
As voters have split between Biden and Sanders, with older voters tending to support the former and younger voters the latter, the Democratic Party has found itself similarly split, focusing specifically on the electability of their nominee. Many moderates, especially within the party, fear that Sanders’ left vision for the country will scare away Democratic voters, resulting in them either not voting, or worse, voting for Trump and potentially also hurting down-ballot races for Congress and Senate. Hence, Biden is seen by many as the “safer” choice, as reflected by shockingly high Super Tuesday vote numbers for him despite his early failures in Iowa and New Hampshire. There is good reason to believe that while many Sanders’ supporters voted for him because they agree on his stances on issues, the majority of Biden supporters voted for him because they believed he was the candidate that could actually beat Trump. This clear divide on why people are voting for candidates, and questions of electability versus ideology, is incredibly dangerous for this election because the same thing happened in 2016.
The last Democratic primaries were between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and today’s political dynamics feel like they mirror the ones of 2016. Like Biden, Clinton was seen as the candidate who could beat the Republican nominee. And just as he was in 2016, Sanders is the candidate whose voters agree with his policies. This rift inevitably caused turmoil within the party and may have cost the Democrats the 2016 election.
This year’s Super Tuesday not only showed Biden’s significantly growing support among moderate voters, many of whom were practically handed over by Buttigieg and Klobuchar, but also exposes the repeating problem of conflicting ideologies within the Democratic Party that lead to divided voters and dwindling support. If the party does not want to repeat the mistakes of 2016, they should heed Super Tuesday as a warning that they are starting to head down the same path and figure out how to avoid suffering another devastating loss in 2020
Inica Kotasthane is a fifteen year-old writer who attends Watchung Hills Regional High School in Warren, New Jersey. Kotasthane is the Politics and World News Editor in her school newspaper, The Arrowhead; Secretary of her school’s Future Business Leaders of America, and remains active in speech and debate. Inica plans on pursuing her interests in Political Science and Writing through journalism or policy making, and hopes to continue to raise awareness and change for social issues affecting the world today.