5 primary takeaways: Joe Biden is Democrats' antidote
Joe Biden's surge toward the Democratic presidential nomination rolled on with a dominating victory in Florida, the largest delegate prize in Tuesday's primaries, and wins in Illinois and Arizona.
Takeaways from Biden's latest victories:
BIDEN'S SURGE BECOMES A WAVE
Biden continues one of the most remarkable presidential campaign turnarounds in U.S. history.
His campaign always said he didn't have to win Iowa or New Hampshire, because his base was in more racially diverse states that followed, a theory that often seemed more like an excuse than a strategy. But even that plan didn't foresee the kind of catapult he has managed since blowing out the field in South Carolina on Feb. 29.
The former vice president has put together broad coalitions of Democratic primary voters: African Americans, white college-educated suburbanites, city dwellers of all demographics, rural and small-town voters who haven't yet defected to Republicans (or who might be returning from the GOP).
Certainly, it may be as much about President Donald Trump as anything else — Biden's "electability" case coming to fruition. But Biden's read on the electorate shouldn't be discounted. During a primary campaign whose narrative was dominated by Bernie Sanders and other candidates' ideological push for a progressive national makeover, Biden held to his core belief that 2020 was most fundamentally about re-establishing a sense of normalcy, then moving forward, “results,” not “revolution.”
Biden noted in a brief address, livestreamed late Tuesday, that Sanders and his supporters “have shifted the fundamental conversation in this country” with the Vermont senator's two presidential campaigns. But the primary results offered the latest evidence that Biden is who and what more Democrats actually want in the Oval Office.
SANDERS' SINKING FEELING
Sanders' campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, said Wednesday that his candidate “is going to be having conversations with supporters to assess his campaign."
But Shakir also suggested that Sanders is in no hurry to make any decisions about leaving the race, noting in a statement, “The next primary contest is at least three weeks away.”
It continues a pattern for the senator of not directly addressing the future of his presidential bid, which has the money to continue but now trails so badly in delegates that his path to the nomination has narrowed almost to nonexistent.
Sanders spoke for 20 minutes via livestream Tuesday night, before the results were even in, and did not once mention the election. Instead, he tried to project calm as he outlined his coronavirus response plan.
It's become an odd role for a candidate whose entire brand has been his defiant call for a political revolution.
Biden’s latest drubbing of Sanders comes as the half of the states yet to vote scramble to find a safe way to cast ballots during the coronavirus outbreak.
It’s unclear how robust future primary elections may be. With the entire country under virtual house arrest it’s impossible for Sanders to recreate the massive rallies that have powered his presidential bid. Every time he criticizes Biden, Sanders angers the majority of the party’s voters who have backed the former vice president and risks sowing dissent before the general election.
Even on the issue of health care, the cornerstone of his campaign, Sanders is losing. Florida Democrats thought Biden would be better than Sanders on health care by a significant margin, according to AP VoteCast surveys of the electorate. Voters in Arizona and Illinois were about evenly divided between the two candidates on health care.