Billionaire Mike Bloomberg envisioned a two-man race going into Super Tuesday. He was banking on it, literally, which is why he decided to come in later rather than put himself in the firing line during the February primary/caucus season. He figured nobody would emerge as the frontrunner in the moderate lane, leaving him with an unofficial mandate to take on Senator Bernie Sanders mano-a-mano starting in March.
Former Vice President Joe Biden blew up those plans with an unexpectedly lopsided victory in South Carolina just three days before Super Tuesday.
Sleepy Joe Biden’s victory in the South Carolina Democrat Primary should be the end of Mini Mike Bloomberg’s Joke of a campaign. After the worst debate performance in the history of presidential debates, Mini Mike now has Biden split up his very few voters, taking many away!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 1, 2020
Biden was favored going into the race, but nobody had projected him to get nearly 50% of the vote. Heck, I had him at around 30% with Sanders and billionaire Tom Steyer at around 20% each. But Biden blew out the competition with Sanders only getting a handful of delegates and Steyer ending his campaign.
It’s the worst-case-scenario for Bloomberg; as I noted yesterday, Bloomberg needed Sanders to either win or come in a very close second. With 90% of the votes counted, it isn’t close at all with Biden beating 2nd-place Sanders by nearly 30-points. If Biden could have stalled out in South Carolina, the path for Bloomberg to take the reins in the moderate lane would have been clear. Super Tuesday would likely have swung in his direction after almost exclusively campaigning in the 14 states for the past two months and sinking hundreds of millions of dollars into big market television ads.
By winning huge, Biden’s campaign is officially back. The anointing of Bloomberg as the only possible Bernie-killer is postponed. It may even be derailed if he doesn’t over-perform on Super Tuesday. Currently, Sanders has the lead in most states, including a double-digit lead in California. To be competitive, Bloomberg needed Biden to be so embarrassed by the results of South Carolina that he bowed out. The opposite happened.
Besides Steyer, the other candidates are not expected to drop out before Super Tuesday. It’s only three days, after all. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar each have their homes states voting on Tuesday, meaning if they do not do well they can announce their campaign ends in friendly territory. Mayor Pete Buttigieg is still in third-place in the delegate race and had a decent fourth-place finish in South Carolina; 8% in a state with a mostly Black Democratic electorate is actually decent news for the young, gay candidate.
This victory did more than keep Biden in the race and give him momentum ahead of the most important day of the year for the nomination. It also signaled to those quietly rooting for him that they could go public with their support. The most notable was former Virginia Governor and DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe, who announced his endorsement of Biden just after the results showed the former VP had won big. Virginia’s primary is on Super Tuesday, and as South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn demonstrated, these types of endorsements help greatly to alert state voters about who to trust.
The Bloomberg campaign is putting on a happy face for the public, but privately they’re stewing. His poor debate performances knocked him out of favor with the Democratic Establishment, which has led to speculation that the DNC put their thumbs on the South Carolina scale to give Biden the big win he needed.
South Carolina strapped the defibrillators to the Biden campaign’s chest and surged it back to life. In doing so, they may have stuck a dagger in the Bloomberg campaign’s back. Super Tuesday could eliminate all but two candidates, Sanders and… who?