The Day After SuperTuesday

Day after SuperTuesday March 3, 2020

Which is two days after our son Jake’s birthday, by the way.

Last night Joe and I attended a DSA Bernie Watch Party at a venue near the West Oakland BART station called 7West.  From what I could tell driving through the neighborhood in the dark, it has gentrified like mad in the last 10 years; no longer artists’ lofts, warehouses, empty lots, debris left over from the 1989 earthquake that knocked down the freeway where the four-lane Mandela Expressway now runs. But this transitional quality makes it a great venue for places where you need parking and space to dance and not pay a lot of money: it was huge; tables, a long bar, a big dance floor near the band, and then a big outdoor fenced-in area with bike racks and picnic tables.

And it was jammed, even when I got there about 10:30 pm, and Joe said that thousands of people – kids, from my point of view, human beings less than 40 years old (Jake is 44) – had been there earlier. The bike racks were overwhelmed. Pretty white group, though, from what I could see.  There were two TV cameras, one apparently from a British station, doing interviews. 

For us, a peak moment was when they projected the words to Solidarity Forever on the screen above the band and started playing it and people turned toward the bandstand, stopped talking and sang.  They seemed to be familiar enough with the song to match the words to the tune.  I hugged Joe and wondered aloud if we had ever had the experience of being in a group of people singing Solidarity where one of us wasn’t actually leading it.  Not for a long time, I’m sure. I remember my first time hearing it sung by a crowd, at a CFT labor ed summer school, and being astonished and a little embarrassed by the sincerity of the old people who were singing and holding hands.  No sign of that here. The kids were happy and seemed to know what the words meant.

There was a lot art around, including a be-flagged pickup truck with a big puppet head of Bernie on the roof of the cab. Apparently there were 3 art trucks like this circulating in the Bay Area yesterday.  They did an “art-build” day where people painted and constructed signs, posters, T-shirts, puppets.

Getting back to the details

So here’s what appears to be going on.  We knew something like this would happen but of course there’s expecting it and then having it happen.

Bernie won Vermont, where people think of him and friendly, smart and reliable but not particularly radical.  He won Colorado. He won Utah. He had already won Nevada and New Hampshire. He really won Iowa, although he did not get the majority of the delegates coming out of Iowa – Buttigieg did.  Bernie had about 6,000 more actual votes than Pete Buttegieg did but the party awarded Buttigieg one more delegate than Bernie. I remember watching CSPAN that night and seeing someone from the Bernie caucus stopping by the caucus manager’s desk and asking why.  The answer was something like, “That’s the way it’s done,” or “That’s the way the cookie crumbles.”

At that point, a little over a week ago, Bernie was on a roll – a ”surge” as the media is calling it. 

Then a week ago last Thursday, two days before the South Carolina primary, an elderly Black South Carolina Senator, Senator Clyburn, endorsed Biden.  Up until then Biden had been viewed as a dead man walking, a limp campaign that wasn’t going anywhere. Not just among my friends, but all over the country, people would say, “Biden…..ugggh. Can you picture him on a stage with Trump?”  Then came the endorsement from Clyburn and apparently Black voters who had been waiting for some guidance turned out for Biden and Biden won South Carolina.

I saw Clyburn on CSPAN being interviewed immediately after the Senate voted to acquit Trump. He struck me as someone who had been in office for a long time and was used to wielding the power of his base, and not shy of the camera. Compared to Julian Castro’s comments on leaving the chamber, given what just had happened, Clyburn’s were not sharp.  

After the South Carolina primary, which Biden won, the landscape changed abruptly.  The limp campaign turned into a firestorm — but with the same candidate at the center. Tom Steyer dropped out. Then the moderate-center of the Democratic party — the DNCC — jumped up to “coalesce” around Biden and sure enough, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klochubar announced that they were dropping out of the race, too, and would endorse Biden. So did Beto O’Rourke in Texas, who had dropped his campaign at least a month ago.  Then Bloomberg said he was pausing his campaign.

As the results were coming in last night and Biden was racking up the states, I was driving back from orchestra rehearsal and listening to KQED and heard a pundit say that the only reason Bloomberg joined the race at all was to stop Bernie – he was the party’s Bernie insurance, because Biden looked so limp and weary that the Party was afraid he wouldn’t attract voters and beat Trump.  But after South Carolina, Biden became the candidate of choice, the Not-Bernie. Same guy as before, but suddenly a hero.

By Super Tuesday, of course many California voters had already mailed in their ballots, voting for Klobuchar, Steyer, Bloomberg or Buttigieg.

Delegates: However, Bernie was strong in some states where he lost

The Democratic Party awards delegates to the convention based on the number of votes a candidate receives. A candidate needs 1991 delegates out of 3,979 in order to clinch the nomination on the first ballot of the convention. As of this afternoon (March 5), Biden has 566, Bernie 501, and Elizabeth 61.  Bloomberg and Buttigieg between them share 79, but by now they have dropped out of the race and endorsed Biden. They are still counting votes in Texas.

In states where Bernie won, he won by a landslide.  I’d call it a landslide if the winner won by about 3:2 or better. These are delegate numbers.  

California: 93 Biden, 155 Bernie

Colorado: 9 Biden, 20 Bernie

Iowa: Biden 6, Bernie 12

New Hampshire – Biden 0, Bernie 9

Nevada – Biden 9, Bernie 24

Utah – Biden 1, Bernie 9

Vermont – Biden 5 – Bernie 11

Biden got a landslide, according to my definition, in the following states.  All of these but Oklahoma are Old South states. These are states with a significant African American population. People are talking about “the legacy of Obama” in these states, but I think that we should be looking at the role of the historic Black institutions that are alternatives to the white institutions.

Alabama – Biden 41, Bernie 7

Arkansas – Biden 17, Bernie 9

South Carolina – Biden 39, Bernie 15

North Carolina – Biden 65, Bernie 35

Oklahoma Biden 21, Bernie 13

Tennessee – Biden 29, Bernie 15

Virginia – Biden 66, Bernie 31. 

But in other states where Biden won, the difference was not as great; these were close races.

Maine – Biden 11, Bernie 9

Massachusetts – Biden 36, Bernie 29 even with Elizabeth getting 23

Minnesota – Biden 38, Bernie 26

Texas – Biden 111, Bernie 102.  Beto O’Rourke came out here for Biden. why

In Texas, Latinos aged 18-44 voted 53% for Sanders.   Among older Latinos, only 25% voted for Sanders. 

I am going to have to stop here. Too much is happening.  Elizabeth dropped out but hasn’t endorsed anyone. You can imagine the phone calls going on – “My people will talk to your people.” Maybe I will have to do this more frequently.  Right now (as of Thursday morning) Biden has 565 delegates to Bernie’s 506, due to some re-allocation in Texas. Note that the headline says “Biden increases,” although relative to Bernie’s last number, it was Bernie who increased:

Published by helenaworthen

Labor educator, retired from University of Illinois, taught at TDT University in Ho Chi Minh City in the Faculty of Trade Unions and Labor Relations. Co-author with Joe Berry of Power Despite Precarity: Strategies for the contingent faculty movement in higher education, forthcoming (August 2021) from Pluto Press.

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