Biden advances with decisive victories
Riding momentum from his Super Tuesday comeback, Joe Biden all but clinched the Democratic nomination this week, racking up commanding wins over Sen. Bernie Sanders in four out of six states. Biden won handily in Missouri, Idaho, Mississippi, and most notably Michigan, a closely watched state where Sanders scored an upset over Hillary Clinton in 2016 but lost this time in a landslide. Washington, long seen as a Sanders-friendly state, was too close to call as The Week went to press; Sanders scored a clear victory only in North Dakota. The former vice president built a broad coalition, faring well with African-Americans, working-class whites, and college-educated and suburban voters. As contests loom in highly favorable states such as Florida and Georgia, Biden’s 864-710 delegate lead seems near insurmountable, a stunning turnaround for a candidate who was all but counted out after weak early showings. Biden reached out to Sanders voters in a subdued speech Tuesday, praising their “passion” and “tireless energy.” “We share a common goal,” he said, “and together we’ll defeat Donald Trump.”
Sanders, who declined to address voters after his losses, pledged the next day to soldier on, despite calls from some Democrats to step aside. At a news conference in Vermont, Sanders acknowledged he’s “losing the debate over electability.” But he cited his strength among young voters and ticked off a list of issues he plans to raise in a debate with Biden in Arizona, including climate change, income inequality, and mass incarceration. “A strong majority of the American people support our progressive agenda,” he said.
What the editorials said
The message is clear, said The Wall Street Journal: “Democrats really, really want to defeat President Trump.” And they’ve decided a socialist revolutionary isn’t going to get them there. The “mass voter mobilization of the proletariat” Sanders promised didn’t materialize. By contrast, Biden powered a huge turnout and showed strength among a remarkable range of groups Democrats need to win. The GOP should not be complacent. “If this coalition and enthusiasm don’t scare Republicans and the Trump campaign, they should.”Biden is the right candidate for the moment, said The Detroit News. In an uncertain time, “Americans are looking for steady, respectable leadership, not a revolution.” In contrast to the far-left Sanders, Biden “is an institutionalist who recognizes the fundamentals of America are sound: They’ve just been undermined by weak and self-interested leaders.” With a proven ability to build bipartisan consensus, Biden is our best ticket out of “gridlock and gotcha” politics that “are not serving us well.”
What the columnists said
Take a moment to “appreciate the magnitude of what has transpired,” said Matt Lewis in TheDailyBeast.com. Just 10 days ago, Sanders seemed unbeatable. But the Democratic Party succeeded where the GOP failed in 2016: It beat back an insurgent outlier and avoided a “hostile takeover” of the party.
Democrats “shouldn’t bust out the party horns quite yet,” said Jonathan Tobin in the New York Post. They’ve hitched their wagon to “the most backward-looking” candidate in memory—and one tied “inextricably” to Barack Obama, whose liberal elitism drove voters to Donald Trump in the first place.
Except that’s not the reason that Democrats lost the White House, or that Sanders did so well in 2016, said Sarah Isgur in TheDispatch.com. The reason for both is that voters just really didn’t like Hillary Clinton. After Clinton’s loss, Sanders and his backers argued that a progressive shift was Democrats’ only hope. Now it looks as if his strength in 2016 was actually built on “an anti-Hillary vote.”
Biden needs to “negotiate a truce with Bernie’s immoderate rebels,” said Eric Levitz in NYMag.com. Winning the election and “fortifying the Democratic coalition” in the future requires reaching young, progressive voters. Biden should adopt popular Sanders positions such as legalizing marijuana and imposing a wealth tax, and “pick a running mate who is better aligned with the future of his party than himself.” If he fails to bring young voters under his tent, “Democrats could be headed for another long spell in the wilderness.” ■