Mar 4, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden reborn with a massive Super Tuesday comeback

Joe Biden speaks on the night of Super Tuesday

Biden speaks in Los Angeles Tuesday night. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Super Tuesday made Joe Biden the 77-year-old Comeback Kid, clipping Bernie Sanders' wings and transforming the Democratic primary into a two-man race.

Why it matters: Biden's campaign was broke and all but dead until he won South Carolina on Saturday. The revival that unfolded across 14 states last night was built not only on strong support from African Americans but also a consolidation of white, establishment Democrats around the former vice president.

  • "They don't call it Super Tuesday for nothing," Biden declared at a rally in Los Angeles.

The big picture: This won't be over for a long time. Sanders' enduring appeal to younger voters, Latinos and progressives foreshadows a long fight, especially in the West, but Biden's wins in states where he hadn't even competed were the story of the night.

  • Biden appeared to get significant boosts from the endorsements of former rivals, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg and Beto O'Rourke.
  • Even as the third most viable candidate, Mike Bloomberg was accruing nothing close to Sanders' or Biden's delegates.
  • Elizabeth Warren's relentless attacks on Bloomberg in recent weeks hit their mark. But her big losses last night — including coming in third in her home state of Massachusetts — only ramped up the pressure on her to drop out and help Sanders.

Details: Biden was the projected winner in Alabama, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

  • The Texas win was Biden's biggest victory. With 228 delegates at stake, it was once thought to be leaning toward Sanders and was one of the last states to be called.
  • Sanders was winning Colorado, Utah and his home state of Vermont — and was projected to win the top prize of California.
  • Maine was too close to call.

What they're saying: At the Baldwin Hills Recreation Center in LA, just off a street renamed Obama Boulevard, Biden raised his voice and waved his hands, projecting energy as he invited supporters of Sanders and other former rivals into his camp.

  • "We need you, we want you and there's a place for you in this campaign," he said. "Our agenda is bold, it's progressive."
  • While Democrats must beat President Trump, Biden said, "we can't become like him. We can't have a never-ending war between the parties."

At Sanders' rally in Vermont, several supporters told Axios they wished the night had gone better.

  • There was a clear sense of worry that Biden is back. And with that worry came sneers and anger about "the establishment."
  • Four voters said they simply would not vote for Biden if he were the nominee. Some said they'd write in Sanders or the Green Party candidate.

At Bloomberg's rally in Florida, supporter Herman Berg told Axios that "it's probably inevitable" that Bloomberg bows out of the race with a poor performance, despite how much money he's invested in individual states. "You don’t want to continue wasting it if it’s not viable."

At Biden's rally in LA, Axios met supporters who had always backed him and others who had previously backed rivals Buttigieg and Kamala Harris and switched to Biden late.

  • Vince Cadena, 50, said Biden is "the only one who can beat Trump."
  • Nola Haynes, who's pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Southern California, told Axios that "there has been extreme damage done to the U.S. reputation, and I think Biden is the person to restore that."

The bottom line: A veteran strategist said of the late but swift rally around Biden: "Bernie terror finally took hold in a big way." 

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