Post-South Carolina: The African-American Vote and Biden’s Enhanced Path

Biden button.

The major message to be derived from Joe Biden’s South Carolina landslide victory is as follows: The African-American vote is overwhelmingly coalescing nationally behind Joe Biden, both in terms of numbers and depth of commitment.

In South Carolina yesterday, Biden exceeded the most optimistic projections of both his campaign management and the media pundits, garnering at least 61 percent of the African – American vote.

The continued accelerating African-American support behind the former Vice President will enhance his chances for the Democratic presidential nomination as he proceeds on his four-stage path: 1) Super Tuesday; 2) Florida on March 17; 3) The Eastern Triangle, consisting of the New York and Pennsylvania primaries on April 28 and New Jersey on June 2; and 4) the 700-plus  super-delegates at the July Democratic National Convention.

Each of these stages warrants separate examination:

Super Tuesday

The major Super Tuesday boost to the Biden campaign from the South Carolina triumph and his accelerating support in the African-American community will be felt in Virginia.  An outright Biden victory in Virginia is now not only possible, but indeed probable.

Earlier in February, the renowned Monmouth Poll, rated A+ by Nate Silver, had Michael Bloomberg and Bernie Sanders at 22 percent in the primary with Biden at 18 percent.  Yet as poll director Patrick Murray then noted, the poll, with a margin of error of 4.9 percent, did not foreclose the possibility of a Biden victory, especially given the fact that only one in four voters were firm in their choice.

Now, as the African-American vote swings overwhelmingly nationally to Biden, he has emerged as a clear favorite in Virginia.   The highly reputed Christopher Newport University poll, which has an A/B rating from Nate Silver, was in the field from February 3 through February 23 and reports Biden in the lead with 22 percent, followed by Sanders at 17 percent and Bloomberg at 13 percent.

And for Biden, there is icing on the cake in Virginia.

He now has the endorsements of former Governor and Bill and Hillary Clinton intimate Terry McAuliffe and US Senator Tim Kaine.  And McAuliffe is a super-fundraiser, which should prove invaluable to Biden in the month ahead.

Biden will win in Virginia.  And the accelerating coalescence of the African-American vote around Joe should enable him to meet the 15 percent thresholds on Super Tuesday in California and Texas, entitling him to receive his proportionate share of the statewide delegates in both states.  By the way, Nate Silver this morning makes Joe Biden an outright favorite over Bernie Sanders in Texas! Out of an abundance of caution, I’ll stick with a prediction of a strong second place finish for Joe in The Lone Star State.

If Biden wins in Virginia and attains the 15 percent thresholds in California and Texas, then Dayeinu, as we say in Hebrew – it will be sufficient to constitute a successful Super Tuesday for Joe.  There now, however appears to be a possible Super Tuesday bonus to Joe resulting from his tidal wave of African-American support: There is a growing chance of Biden victories in Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

Florida – Tuesday, March 17

The current Nate Silver average of the polls in Florida has Joe Biden at 27.1 percent, Michael Bloomberg at 24.2 percent, and Bernie Sanders at 15.9 percent.

Democratic registered voters are 48 percent white, 29 percent black and 17 percent Hispanic.   As African-American support solidifies around the former Vice President, the likelihood of his Florida victory increases.

Michael Bloomberg’s status has declined from being a prospective nominee to that of an X-Factor in the race.  If he loses in Florida, the Sunshine State, the odds are high that he’ll withdraw from the race – and endorse Joe Biden, as former Pennsylvania governor and DNC Chair Ed Rendell predicted this morning.

If Bloomberg withdraws before the Florida primary, a Biden Florida victory is guaranteed.  Bernie Sanders is on the verge of becoming a Florida political pariah, having alienated Cuban voters with his defenses of Castro and Jewish voters with his virulently anti-Israel position.

The Eastern Triangle (New York and Pennsylvania, April 28 and New Jersey, June 2)

In Pennsylvania, where Joe has solid Scranton roots, the polls show him to be ahead.  And Biden has the emphatic, powerful endorsement of the lead Democrat in the Commonwealth: former Governor and mayor of Philadelphia Ed Rendell.

The skyrocketing African-American support for the former Vice-President will result in an avalanche of votes for him arising from Philadelphia, sealing his victory in the Keystone State.

In New York, it is the ethnic factor that favors Biden, particularly if Bloomberg drops out. As in Florida, the Jewish vote will be overwhelmingly against Sanders, due to his virulent anti-Israel position, which contrasts with Biden’s record as a senator of solid support for the Jewish State. And the African-American vote, solidly behind Biden, when combined with the Jewish vote, means a comfortable Biden victory in the Empire State.

After all these years, our dream in New Jersey of our primary being a decisive factor in the nomination of a major party presidential candidate will come to pass on June 2.  As in New York, the combination of the African-American and Jewish votes will spell victory for Joe Biden in the Garden State.  And an endorsement from Phil Murphy will make New Jersey’s governor a presidential kingmaker.

The Super Delegates

Even if Biden attains all the primary victories described hereinabove, the likelihood is that he and Bernie Sanders will both arrive at the July Milwaukee Convention with an insufficient number of delegates to win the nomination on the first ballot.

The result: a “brokered” convention, where the nominee is picked on the second or third ballot.  The 700-plus super-delegates will determine the nominee.  They are largely of a center-left bent, and they will give Biden the nomination.

The words “brokered convention” have a negative connotation, implying “smoked-filled” rooms and incompetent nominees.

That is historical nonsense.  The greatest Democratic president in American history, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was nominated on the fourth ballot at the 1932 Democratic National Convention, defeating such luminaries as Alfred E. Smith, John Nance Garner, and Newton Baker.  And that Convention in Chicago was the occasion when FDR first used in his acceptance speech those immortal words, “A New Deal!”

In any event, Joe Biden’s landslide victory in South Carolina and the coalescence of the national African-American community around his candidacy have undoubtedly changed the shape of the 2020 Democratic National sweepstakes. Indeed, there is a song, sung by the late, great Dinah Washington, wife of the also late, great Detroit Lion Dick “Night Train “Lane which summarizes how magnificent Joe Biden feels today – “What a Difference a Day Makes!”(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmBxVfQTuvI&feature=share)

Alan J. Steinberg served as regional administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush and as executive director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission.

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