Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Notations On Our World (Weekly Edition): As The Michigan Primary Looms...

As The Michigan Primary Looms.....

The Washington Post
The Daily 202
Intelligence for leaders.


Joe Biden forged a Super Tuesday coalition that could win the Democratic nomination – and presidency

James HohmannWith a victory in Texas giving him a sweep of the South, plus the exclamation marks from winning outright in Massachusetts and Minnesota, Joe Biden is suddenly the front-runner again for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Bernie Sanders leads in California, the biggest prize of Super Tuesday, which will keep the delegate count tight and probably ensures the contest drags on for a few more months. The independent senator carried his home state of Vermont, as well as Colorado and Utah. But Sanders crashed into a brick wall down South, just as he did four years ago against Hillary Clinton, despite his efforts to court African Americans.
Biden won Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama and Oklahoma by double digits. Maine, which the Sanders camp expected to carry, remains too close to call. Sanders won the Pine Tree State decisively in 2016.
“We increased turnout,” Biden told supporters in Los Angeles. “The turnout turned out for us!”
Joe Biden takes the stage at his victory party at Baldwin Hills Recreation Center in Los Angeles. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)
Joe Biden takes the stage at his victory party at Baldwin Hills Recreation Center in Los Angeles. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)
Turnout grew not because of Biden’s ground game, which was essentially nonexistent in the 14 states and one U.S. territory that voted on Tuesday. In fact, he won big in several places where he spent little time and made no real investment in a field program. Momentum mattered more than money. After spending more than half a billion dollars of his personal fortune, former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg’s only win came in American Samoa, where Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) also got a delegate.
Turnout also did not appear to grow because of a surge in young voters that Sanders keeps promising will materialize any time now. Exit polls show about 1 in 8 voters in Super Tuesday states were 18- to 29-year-olds, compared to 3 in 10 who were 65 or older. Sanders struggles with these older voters.
Instead, turnout appears to have spiked from 2016 to 2020 in key general election battlegrounds because antipathy toward President Trump continues to galvanize suburban moderates to get engaged in Democratic politics. A Washington Post statistical model suggests Biden won nearly 60 percent of voters who sat out the 2016 primary but cast ballots on Tuesday. Our turnout analysis, conducted by in-house data scientist Lenny Bronner, also shows that Biden possibly received nearly 90 percent of Clinton’s 2016 voters.
Biden romped in the suburbs, excelling with the constituencies that fueled the Democratic takeover of the House in 2018. In addition to his stalwart base of African American voters, the foundation of his wins across the South, Biden fared well with white voters in suburbs from Richmond and Raleigh, N.C., to Houston and Hampton Roads, as well as Nashville and Minneapolis.
Bernie Sanders watches Super Tuesday results in a holding area before his speech in Essex Junction, Vt. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)
Bernie Sanders watches Super Tuesday results in a holding area before his speech in Essex Junction, Vt. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)
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Exit polls show that many decided to back the former vice president in the days after his South Carolina landslide. These voters think he’s the most electable choice to take back the White House and that beating Trump is more important to them than agreeing with a candidate on the issues. It also helped Biden that the field winnowed, and he received endorsements on Monday from former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). 
Biden credited his win in Minnesota, where Sanders invested heavily and held a massive rally on Monday night, to Klobuchar. Exit polls there showed 6 in 10 voters decided whom to vote for in the past few days. Biden won about half that group.
Consider Virginia as a window into why turnout grew. In 2016, 785,000 people participated in the Democratic primary. On Tuesday, about 1.3 million people did. This broke the turnout record set in the 2008 primary that pitted Clinton against Barack Obama. About a quarter of Virginia primary voters were African American, and roughly 6 in 10 chose Biden, according to the exit polls. But Biden also won 6 in 10 white voters older than 45. While Sanders won 3 to 1 among all younger voters, Biden still won the primary in Virginia by 30 points.
“The precincts that saw the biggest increases were largely clustered in Northern Virginia and the Hampton Roads metropolitan area,” Greg Schneider reports from Richmond. “In Henrico, Kate Giska, 39, a small-business owner and political independent, described Sanders as ‘just too extreme, just like Trump is a little too extreme. We’re kind of, like, in the middle, just, like, status quo, just get along.’ She voted for Biden, someone she thinks has appeal for ‘the middle voter, a candidate that can attract the masses.’ None of more than 50 voters interviewed at three Virginia Beach precincts on Tuesday said they planned to vote for Sanders, even if they liked some of his positions. Many said they simply thought Biden had a better chance of winning in November.”
Biden won from coast to coast among those who identify as “somewhat liberal.” He dominated among conservative and moderate primary voters across most of the 14 states that voted, with the exceptions of Colorado and Vermont. But he also fared very well among the large share of voters who self-identify as “somewhat liberal.” Biden won that group by a roughly 2 to 1 margin over Sanders in Alabama, Virginia and North Carolina. Those latter two states will both be battlegrounds this fall.
Sanders’s coalition is built around liberals and Latinos. One reason he’s widely expected to win California, although the race has not been called with 81 percent of precincts reporting, is that two-thirds of voters described themselves as liberal in the exit polling, and this group voted more than 2 to 1 for Sanders. 
Hispanic voters also showed a strong preference for Sanders in the states where they made up the largest shares of the Democratic electorate. About 3 in 10 voters in Texas identified themselves as Hispanic, and just under half of them voted for Sanders. Biden got about 1 in 4 Hispanic votes in the Lone Star State. The share of Hispanic voters was slightly smaller in California, but Sanders won the group by a larger margin, capturing a majority. Biden got about 1 in 5 Latinos in the Golden State, giving Sanders a margin of about 30 percentage points, according to the exits.
Elsewhere, though, Biden made inroads with non-college-educated whites who backed Sanders four years ago. Exit polls suggested Biden had a greater than 2 to 1 lead among white voters in Alabama, and nearly as wide an edge in Virginia. Biden had a smaller but still visible lead among white voters in Minnesota and Oklahoma and a smaller edge in Tennessee, North Carolina and Massachusetts. In Maine and Texas, Biden and Sanders were neck and neck among white voters. And Sanders led among white voters in Vermont, Colorado and California.
Elizabeth Warren’s humiliating third-place finish in Massachusetts, a state she’s represented in the Senate for eight years, makes continuing her campaign increasingly difficult to rationalize. Warren also finished fourth in her native Oklahoma, with 13.4 percent, under the 15 percent threshold required to win any delegates, although not all the precincts have reported. Speaking early Tuesday evening in Detroit as polls remained open in several states, Warren pledged to forge ahead and seemed to plead with late deciders not to keep breaking for Biden. “What I see happening is a lot of folks trying to turn voting into some complicated strategy,” she said, acting almost as if Super Tuesday hadn’t happened. “They are playing games about prediction and strategy. Prediction has been a terrible business.”
After polls closed, Bloomberg campaign manager Kevin Sheekey backed away from his insistence that the former New York mayor would fight on until the Democratic convention in Milwaukee. “You make an assessment in any campaign like this after any time there is a vote,” he said. “As of right now we are committing to stay in, but we will see what happens tonight.” Another campaign aide told Michael Scherer that the campaign is regularly reevaluated, and that process would continue Wednesday, when Bloomberg is expected to return to New York from Florida.
Whether Warren and Bloomberg stay in or not, this has effectively become a two-man race, pitting the 77-year-old Biden – first elected to the Senate in 1972 – against the 78-year-old Sanders, who was first elected mayor of Burlington 39 years ago Tuesday and who has been in Congress since 1991. But the ideological contrast between the septuagenarians is stark. Sanders promises revolution. Biden pledges restoration.
Sanders is also struggling in some states he won last time because Biden is a less effective foil for him than Clinton. The self-described democratic socialist benefited four years ago in several red states like Indiana, West Virginia and Montana from being the sole alternative to Clinton. He ran up the score among self-identified conservative Democrats. With the benefit of hindsight, many of these folks were probably voting more against Clinton than they were voting for Sanders. But she’s not on the ballot this time. Biden has higher favorability ratings among conservative Democrats than she did, and there were other alternatives, including Bloomberg. 
Consider Oklahoma. Sanders won the primary there four years ago by 10 points. “Clinton won self-identified Democrats by 9 points, according to exit polls. But independents, who were free to cross over, backed Sanders by 48 points,” Dave Weigel notes. “While Sanders ran to Clinton’s left, he beat her among self-identified ‘moderate or conservative’ voters by 11 points. Without Clinton as a foil, the Sanders vote fell apart. … Sanders badly lost moderate and conservative voters [on Tuesday], losing them to Biden by 28 points. … Bloomberg won 24 percent of the moderate vote, to just 11 percent for Sanders.”
The fight for the nomination could still drag into the convention in Milwaukee in July, even if Biden continues to consolidate support among moderate voters. Most delegates still have not been awarded, and 32 states still need to vote. Sanders expressed optimism in Vermont last night. “I tell you, with absolute confidence, we’re going to win the Democratic nomination,” he told thousands of supporters.
But, but, but: The calendar is going to get harder for Sanders. “The marquee primary next week will be in Michigan,” Dan Balz explains. “Sanders scored a major upset there four years ago against Clinton, although his victory margin was narrow. Also on the calendar next week is Missouri, a state Sanders lost by less than a percentage point and where the delegates split almost evenly. Missouri will provide another test of Biden’s and Sanders’s support among African Americans, who make up about a fifth of Democratic turnout in that state. Because Washington state has switched from a caucus to a primary, Sanders, though favored, will have a more difficult time piling up the kind of delegate margin he did in 2016. Meanwhile, Mississippi should be fertile ground for Biden, as African Americans made up about 70 percent of the Democratic electorate there in 2016 — even more than in South Carolina.
The round of primaries on March 17 includes Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio. Sanders lost Florida badly to Clinton and will face serious resistance again this year because of qualms about his left-wing agenda. He also lost Arizona and Ohio decisively. Only Illinois was close, though Sanders was on the losing end there, as well. A week after that, on March 24, Georgia holds a stand-alone primary, and there again, Biden will be favored based on the size of the African American vote.”
For his part, Biden will face growing scrutiny that he’s mostly avoided since stumbling in Iowa. He faced few attacks in the last three debates. His performances on the stump can be uneven. Trying to stay disciplined, he delivered his speech in Los Angeles from a teleprompter. Most of it duplicated what he said on Saturday night in his victory speech in South Carolina. “They don’t call it Super Tuesday for nothing,” he said. “For those who have been knocked down, counted out, left behind, this is your campaign.”
Scott Clement contributed exit poll analysis.
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