Democrats right the ship with moderate consolidation

April 3, 2020 — by Michael Wong

Editor’s note: This story was written prior to the coronavirus pandemic that started mid-March.

Heading into Super Tuesday on March 6, a contested convention in which no candidate wins the majority of delegates seemed highly possible, with FiveThirtyEight putting the odds at 69 percent. Instead, former vice president and early front-runner Joe Biden saved the Democratic nomination process with wins across the country and currently has greater than a 99 percent chance of winning the nomination, a dramatic reversal of the campaign many once proclaimed dead as recently as February.

With the primary settled into a two-person race between him and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and a very likely chance that Biden will prevail, Democrats should be relieved about the nomination and throw their weight behind Biden, their best candidate. 

Despite early losses in Iowa and New Hampshire, Biden’s favorability among black voters provided him with an edge over Sanders in South Carolina in the primary on February 29. Though some polls showed Bernie closing the gap, Biden handily won the state by nearly 30 points after a key endorsement from Representative Jim Clyburn.

Soon after, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar exited the race and endorsed Biden, making way for Biden’s sweeping Super Tuesday victories in key states such as Massachusetts (Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s home state), Maine and Texas.

His win in South Carolina and the results from Super Tuesday not only proved that Biden’s campaign could recover, but it also confirmed the overwhelming black support that carried him to a near 30-point victory. Democrats have a leader in Biden who brings a solid constituency of black voters, a close connection to Barack Obama’s former presidency, and, most importantly, a platform unburdened by the “socialist” tag.  

Self-proclaimed Democratic-Socialist Sanders has tried to base his campaign on a revolution of younger voters. But while the voting preferences of the younger and more liberal heavily skew toward him, not enough young voters support his grassroots campaign. In fact, his losses on Super Tuesday prompted him to acknowledge his inability to draw in enough young voters, a crucial portion of his voter base.

In addition, Democrats are motivated by the desire to remove President Trump, and the issue of electability will prove an essential factor in bringing a November victory. 

As a former vice president, Biden began his campaign on his electability, and his string of victories prove that he is a true contender who can deliver votes in crucial swing states. As a Pennsylvania native, his background mirrors the blue-collared American demographic that Democrats need for a victory.

Though “socialist” may have different connotations in the solidly liberal states, where 79 percent of Democratic voters view the ideology positively, socialism has a drastically different tone for the rest of America as the only category (among race, sex, religion and political beliefs) which less than a majority of voters that are willing to vote for. Sanders, a self-declared democratic-socialist who registered as a Democrat only for the platform, presents himself as an obvious target for his alignment, and his unabashed praisal of Fidel Castro’s literary improvements will not bode well.

For all the talk of eradicating the Democratic establishment, a brokered convention would only tear the party to pieces and hand President Trump  re-election. While Biden may not be the perfect candidate for many left-leaning liberals, he is still the best candidate Democrats have. Rallying against Trump and uniting democrats based on his history of policies and electability will prove vital in securing the party their best chance at a win in November.

Update: With the coronavirus epidemic, Democratic primaries in 15 states including New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania have postponed their primaries, the July convention in Milwaukee has been delayed to August. The two candidates have been essentially locked out from the campaign trail, though Sanders currently has no realistic chance of winning. While criticism has precipitated over the president’s handling of the coronavirus, Trump currently boasts an all-time high approval rating of 49 percent, which will be a huge factor heading into the election if he can sustain it. In national polling, however, Biden maintains around a six point lead for the general election.

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At UC Berkeley, PhD student Abrar Abidi and research assistant Yvonne Hao have embarked on a goal of creating hand sanitizer for the Bay Area's most vulnerable populations, including the homeless and the incarcerated. Their hand sanitizer includes glycerol mixed with other products, in accordance with a formula from the World Health Organization. So far, they are producing 120 hundreds of gallons of sanitizer each week. Photo courtesy of Roxanne Makasdjian with UC Berkeley.

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