Biden puts roadblock in front of Sanders’ revolution
CNN’s David Chalian breaks down exit polls from Virginia’s primary election. Joe Biden is projected to win the state thanks to African American voters and voters’ views about his electability.
CNN contributors weigh in on the Super Tuesday results — and what they portend for the Democratic presidential primary. The views expressed in this commentary are their own.
Joe Lockhart: The South delivers big for Biden
Ever since the polls closed in South Carolina Saturday night the political debate has been dominated by this question: how big a bounce is Joe Biden getting from his blowout victory there? Tonight Virginia — and North Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee — told us that that bounce was big. But like many things in the race, it’s not as simple as it looks.
Just last week, the race in Virginia had tightened, and some polls showed Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders trading the lead from day to day. But the only poll that really matters comes on primary day, and those voters delivered Biden big victories.
Virginia, for one, was in many ways set up structurally for Biden. Exit polls show that nearly 50% of voters made up their mind in the last few days, a big plus for him after his South Carolina win. But among black voters, so far solidly in the Biden camp, the majority said they made up their minds before the start of February.
Virginia also had no early voting. In neighboring North Carolina, similar to Virginia in demographics, about a third of voters cast their ballots before today, starting last Friday.
Watch tonight for the difference in margins in Virginia from North Carolina. They will give us insight into the impact of early voting, voting before South Carolina, that will be a big question as we look west to the big prize tonight, California.
Joe Lockhart was White House press secretary from 1998-2000 in President Bill Clinton’s administration. He co-hosts the podcast “Words Matter.”
Sarah Isgur: A brokered convention looks less likely
Were predictions of a brokered convention too hasty?
As of 24 hours ago, most pundits agreed that no candidate looked likely to get to the 1,991 pledged delegates needed to clinch the Democratic nomination. This would have meant that Democrats wouldn’t have had a nominee until July and only then after a messy, multi-ballot process that would have given the 771 superdelegates an outsized role in determining the eventual nominee. Any outcome of a brokered convention was sure to divide the party only months before the November general election.
But what a difference a day makes: The night was still young and Joe Biden had already won Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee with numbers that signaled overwhelming support from the African American community, the backbone of Democratic support, and a convincing edge with the college-educated suburban vote that Democrats need for November.
In terms of sheer numbers, Texas and California—still to come at this writing– are critical to see how this race will play out. But if reports are true that Mike Bloomberg’s advisors are pressuring him to drop out of the race after tonight, this could quickly become a two man race. There’s still about 60% of the delegates up for grabs in the coming weeks and months, and that should be enough to avoid that second ballot in July.
Sarah Isgur is a CNN political analyst. She has worked on three Republican presidential campaigns and is an adjunct professor at George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School.
Aisha Moodie-Mills: Black voters matter
Joe Biden is poised for bin wins on Super Tuesday, thanks to the overwhelming support of black voters who make up a significant portion of the electorate, particularly in the South. Building on his sweep of South Carolina last weekend, he’s handily won Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee– and I suspect he’ll do well in Arkansas as well.
Tonight’s results affirm that the pathway to the Democratic nomination runs directly through the black community. Candidates who are unable to break through to black voters just aren’t viable contenders despite how great they might be on issues of racial justice and regardless of how many endorsements they receive from black influencers.
Take Elizabeth Warren, for example, who literally has a comprehensive plan to address everything, including a host of issues that disproportionately impact black people. Even though she amassed an impressive list of endorsements from black leaders — from Black Womxn For to the founders of Black Lives Matter — she’s been unable to break through to black voters in any contest thus far.
Bernie Sanders — despite performing well overall — will likely hit a wall tonight because he too has been unable to draw a significant portion of black voters, even as he’s captured the hearts and imaginations of black youth. Warren and Sanders’ passion and policies just aren’t translating with the folks who cast their ballots on primary day. Why?
The reality is that relationships matter more than being right. Sure, Warren and Biden, and all the other Democratic candidates in this primary, are on the right side of the issues that matter to black communities. But black voters know Joe Biden, and they love him largely because of the goodwill he amassed as the affable wing man to our first black President.
But that’s not all: I was in South Carolina last week and heard several times from voters who planned to vote for Biden, “We know Joe Biden. He came down here and worked with us before there ever was a Barack Obama.” That makes sense, Biden has had a long career, and has been around longer than almost everyone else in the race.
Those relationships built over decades foster trust. He may not be as well-versed on issues of racial justice as other candidates, but black voters know Joe Biden and clearly, that is more than half the battle.
Aisha Moodie-Mills, a CNN political commentator and former president and CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, was formerly a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus PAC. Follow her on Twitter @AishaMoodMills.