If I were in the dad joke mood, I could say that I guess Bernie Sanders’ Super Tuesday wasn’t so super. If I were trying to play myself off as a knowing millennial engaging in winking hipster irony, I’d still say it and pass it off as a dad joke.
Whichever I chose (you be the judge), the point is that Bernie underperformed on the biggest delegate day of the primary season. The underwhelming performance — combined with Joe Biden’s phoenix-like regeneration from the ashes — means that Bernie is behind in pledged delegates.
The great thing about the Democratic primary process is that it kind of depends on who you ask as to what the pledged delegate count is.
I’m under the impression California is using the same vote-counting methods used by our nascent republic during the election of 1788, meaning this is probably subject to change.
So, what’s behind the resurrection of Biden’s desiccated political corpse?
Some credit it to his convincing win in South Carolina combined with the endorsement of Democratic House Majority Whip James Clyburn, an African-American and the most powerful Democratic politician in the state; the loss underscored how little support the Vermont senator has with black voters over 30.
Some pointed to the dual withdrawal/endorsements by former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar; the latter is credited with helping him win a state where the only candidate who registered significant support before Klobuchar’s withdrawal was Sanders.
Some just credited Democratic voters with coming to their senses after three contests where an unelectable socialist took control of the field.
Not the Bernie Bros, though. Partisans of the crunchy socialist independent instead turned to conspiracy theories both mild and wild about why Sanders lost.
Carlos Maza, formerly of Vox Media, is one of the milder conspiracy theorists. You may remember him as the man who was behind the de-platforming of Steven Crowder on YouTube. He thinks this is all a result of the media treating Biden’s victory in South Carolina in a misleading way.
“It’s easy to blame Warren for this, but the bigger culprit is cable news, which treated South Carolina like a major unexpected comeback for Biden and likely had a huge impact on last-minute voters worried about electability,” Maza tweeted after Tuesday ended in tears:
It’s easy to blame Warren for this, but the bigger culprit is cable news, which treated South Carolina like a major unexpected comeback for Biden and likely had a huge impact on last-minute voters worried about electability.
— Carlos Maza ? (@gaywonk) March 4, 2020
This would only be a point if we didn’t consider the fact Sanders was the frontrunner only because the media treated an anomalous result — the Nevada caucuses — as a sign the Democratic electorate had suddenly and irrevocably shifted.
The fact that a) the caucus format seems to benefit Sanders, as evidenced by his performance in Minnesota in 2016 (caucus format) vs. his performance there in 2020 (primary format) and b) it didn’t erase that Sanders had slightly underperformed polling expectations in both Iowa and New Hampshire.
By Maza’s conspiratorial logic, the media would also be responsible for the fact that Sanders was viewed as the frontrunner before a primary where he clearly didn’t have the infrastructure among African-American voters to post a decent result.
Speaking of blaming Warren, there was comedian Sarah Silverman who — like so many others — secretly believes Sen. Elizabeth Warren is a covert agent of the moderates because she’s siphoning progressive votes from where they really belong — the Bernie camp:
Imagine if Warren got behind Bernie to make sure progress won? I LOVE her but, as of yesterday it would seem she is handing the nomination to Biden by splitting the progressive vote. Is it on purpose? Forgive me -I’m truly jus trying to understand – does she have a chance to win? https://t.co/3x9iS7bl0O
— Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) March 5, 2020
Firstly, does Sanders have a chance to win? Honestly, Warren is like an electable Sanders. That said, delegates are awarded proportionally in the Democratic primaries.
Assume for a moment that, given a three-person race, Warren and Sanders split the progressive/socialist vote.
That still means both would likely meet the 15 percent threshold to get delegates if that vote had enough power to get near the 50 percent mark. If they don’t, there’s no one left to beat Biden, anyway.
And Marianne Williamson was involved in this, because you bet your dark psychic energy that she was.
“Jake Tapper referred to the ‘resurrection’ of Joe Biden’s campaign. This was not a resurrection; it was a coup. Russiagate was not a coup. Mueller was not a coup. Impeachment was not a coup. What happened [on Super Tuesday] was a coup. And we will push it back,” she said.
Williamson deleted her crazy tweet about tonight, so here it is if you’re wondering (or are Bernie’s campaign and want something to attach to the email telling her that her services are no longer required): pic.twitter.com/s6HP8g8J3v
— (((Yair Rosenberg))) (@Yair_Rosenberg) March 4, 2020
Presumably, this push-back will occur on the Battlefield of Love, where Williamson said she would do battle with Trump during her Democratic debate appearances. Right.
Much like Napoleon returning from exile Elba and assembling his troops for a decisive showdown with the Duke of Wellington at what would end up being Waterloo, this, uh, won’t end well.
Then there was author Matt Stoller, who was a bit more apocalyptic about things:
I saw @AOC win her low turnout primary, but other than that I can’t think of a single win against the Democratic establishment in fifteen years. Democratic voters do what Wall Street wants them to do and they are basically fine with the status quo.
— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) March 4, 2020
This is likely the last primary before we start reckoning with mass death. What is coming will change politics in ways that are hard to imagine.
— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) March 4, 2020
I’m presuming that he typed this out on his iPhone as “Gimme Shelter” played at top volume through his AirPods, tears of rage falling on the screen.
At least these tweets of rage were sullen and not caught on video. Cenk Uygur’s meltdown on “The Young Turks” wasn’t sullen and was, of course, caught on video:
Savor this meltdown. pic.twitter.com/r6ArfZIN25
— David Reaboi (@davereaboi) March 4, 2020
I don’t argue with Uygur that Biden’s “mental faculties are under question,” but I’d advise him to watch this again and see what he thinks. Just saying.
So beyond the powers of Democratic establishment, secret moderate Elizabeth Warren, a media which is so in the tank for Biden they were telling us how Bernie was sure to win this thing as late as Friday and a Super Tuesday coup, what else could explain this?
Maybe it was the fact that this was always how Bernie was going to perform outside of the first three primaries and we simply overestimated the McGovern-like powers of the youth vote to carry a radical to the nomination.
Sanders lost pretty much everything big. In every Southern state he invested heavily in he still lost by significant margins. He only won in one of the big contests of the night.
I never bought that he had a serious lead in Texas like other pundits did, and I was clearly right — although he still kept it close, considering Latinos are one of his strong constituencies.
In the other big contest, California is still waiting for the horse-drawn carriages to get the ballots from Southern California to Sacramento to be counted, but the estimates show Sanders won’t go over the top.
Whatever the case, he was supposed to have a lead in delegates coming out of Super Tuesday. He didn’t. And yes, the media seemed inordinately happy about it, with every one of them broadly smiling as they talked about “… a result no one expected.”
Again, this guy was as good as the nominee on Friday. He tumbled back down to earth because he couldn’t make inroads among black voters who aren’t millennials or members of Generation Z.
It wasn’t a coup. It wasn’t Warren. It wasn’t the media. It wasn’t “the last primary before we start reckoning with mass death.” It was a terminally poxed candidate who, after a brief flirtation with him, everyone suddenly realized was terminally poxed.
Or, perhaps this changes. The favorite has changed how many times since the summer? Remember when Kamala was a favorite to be the nominee? Warren? Bloomberg? That last one was just a few weeks ago, just before he got up on a Vegas debate stage and Elizabeth Warren treated him like Ivan Drago treated Apollo Creed.
Conspiracy theories are perversely comforting. They let us think that there’s someone pulling the levers behind the scenes and that this is all the result of bad actors in the media or the Democratic Party or, I don’t know, dark psychic energy. It isn’t.
We simply ascribed too much to Bernie’s convincing Nevada win, along with convincing-ish performances Iowa and New Hampshire, and not enough to the fact that his base remains limited.
If you’re a Bernie Bro (or Bro-ette) and don’t particularly like how this turned out, I’d get used to it.
These things can change rapidly, as the primary season has shown — but the next few rounds of elections are coming rapidly, too, and perhaps too rapidly for the kind of changes Bernie needs to win the nomination.
The simplest explanation, alas, won’t do for the Bernie partisans, who will forever believe conspiracies are afoot, depriving their candidate of what should rightfully be his.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.