Biden Is Back: This Week in the 2020 Race

Biden Is Back: This Week in the 2020 Race

In just seven days, the Democratic race has changed almost beyond recognition. Let’s catch you up on the biggest week of the campaign so far.




Joe Biden Lands First Big Primary Win

The former vice president energized his campaign with a big win in South Carolina. And Bernie Sanders, who came in a distant second, had his largest loss so far.

All those who’ve been knocked down, counted out, left behind: This is your campaign. Just days ago, the press and the pundits had declared this candidacy dead. Now, thanks to all of you, the heart of the Democratic Party, we just won and we’ve won big because of you. If Democrats want to nominate someone who will build on Obamacare, not scrap it; take on the N.R.A. and gun manufacturers, not protect them; stand up and give the poor a fighting chance and the middle class get restored, not raise their taxes; and keep the promises we make; then join us. You cannot win them all. A lot of states out there. And tonight, we did not win in South Carolina. And that will not be the only defeat. There are a lot of states in this country. Nobody wins them all. Hey, you guys. So let me say this. I said, if I didn’t see a path to winning then I’d suspend my campaign. And honestly, I can’t see a path where I can win the presidency.

The former vice president energized his campaign with a big win in South Carolina. And Bernie Sanders, who came in a distant second, had his largest loss so far.CreditCredit…Maddie McGarvey for The New York Times

We know the South Carolina primary might seem like ancient history, but it was actually only last Saturday. So it’s worth remembering where the race stood going into it.

Eight days ago, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont was the clear front-runner for the nomination, having basically tied in Iowa, won in New Hampshire and blown the rest of the field away in Nevada. South Carolina was always going to be more challenging for him, but he was polling competitively with former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. there, and if needed, he had Super Tuesday right around the corner to lift him back up.

Instead, Mr. Biden won South Carolina by nearly 30 percentage points, and his moderate competitors started dropping like flies. Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., and Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota both ended their campaigns and endorsed Mr. Biden — a development that caught Mr. Sanders’s team off guard.




Super Tuesday Is Over. What Just Happened?

Joe Biden had a strong showing, Bernie Sanders picked up the biggest prize of the night, California, and Michael Bloomberg dropped out. Alex Burns, a Times political reporter, lays out what happened, and what it means for Democrats.

This was a night that was supposed to bring clarity to the Democratic race … “Hello, hello, hello, hello!” “Here’s what is clear.” “I don’t know what’s going to happen later tonight.” … and establish whether there was one clear front-runner or maybe two clear front-runners, or no front-runners at all. We’ve covered contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. “Can I get you to wear a button?” “I’m with the press.” “Sure I know, I’m just trying.” And now we’ve arrived at Super Tuesday. Super Tuesday is the single most important date on the primary calendar. You have more than a dozen states and territories voting at the same time. And it is the first real test of which candidates are drawing broad national appeal. “Winston-Salem, thank you!” “Hello, Denver!” “Tennessee will deliver. This is the Volunteer State.” The biggest prizes on the map are Texas and California. But all told, you’re looking at about a third of all the delegates that are at stake in the Democratic primary are at stake on Super Tuesday. This was a good night, especially for Joe Biden. “It’s a good night! It’s a good night!” We have seen that Biden has been regaining traction in the race over the last couple of days. “It ain’t over, man. We’re just getting started.” But he pulled off a series of big wins and upsets in places where even a newly revived Biden campaign wasn’t terribly optimistic about winning. Over the last few days, we have seen an extraordinary coalescing of support around Joe Biden. “I am ending my campaign and endorsing Joe Biden!” When he collected those endorsements on Monday from Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, that only accelerated his new momentum. So many of Joe Biden’s most important and biggest victories on Super Tuesday came in states where black voters make up either a majority or a very, very large share of the primary electorate. “We just got in from Alabama. We won Alabama!” Joe Biden edged out a narrow victory in Texas, but it was a close outcome. And Bernie Sanders recorded very significant support, especially from Latino voters and progressives. This was a solid night for Bernie Sanders. This was not some massive setback. It was not the massive breakthrough that his campaign hoped it would be. But what we did see him do, was continue adding significantly to his delegate count in a series of states where his progressive base was strong. “Hi, my name is Tom. I’m from the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign.” Most importantly, California. In his speech on election night … “This will become a contrast in ideas.” … Bernie Sanders made it pretty clear that in the coming weeks he is going to be going after Joe Biden even more aggressively. “One of us in this race led the opposition to the war in Iraq — you’re looking at him.” It was not such a good night for Michael Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren. Warren has needed to make a comeback, and she did not carry a single state. She even came in third in her home state of Massachusetts. This was the first time that Michael Bloomberg’s name appeared on a ballot in this Democratic primary. He spent hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising, and other campaign operations in the Super Tuesday states. In the end, he only won a single contest in American Samoa. Ultimately, Bloomberg and Warren both dropped out. For the first time in this campaign, you really have the two wings of the Democratic Party organized under a pair of clear front-runners. Joe Biden, closer to the political center … “Look, most Americans don’t want the promise of a revolution. They want results. They want a revival of decency, honor and character.” … and Bernie Sanders, further to the left. “From day one, we have been taking on the establishment. It is no surprise, they do not want me to become president.” There is clearly a real hunger among many voters in the party to coalesce quickly around someone they see as an electable challenger for President Trump. Do you want some kind of salutation or — Producer: “No, no.” It’s only March, and we’ve got a long way to Election Day. The Times will continue covering the campaign from all angles, from the campaign trail to investigations to analysis and beyond. For our latest reporting, go to Thanks for watching.

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Joe Biden had a strong showing, Bernie Sanders picked up the biggest prize of the night, California, and Michael Bloomberg dropped out. Alex Burns, a Times political reporter, lays out what happened, and what it means for Democrats.CreditCredit…Josh Haner/The New York Times

A week ago, Mr. Biden was lagging in polls of Super Tuesday states. But South Carolina reshaped the race exactly as Mr. Biden had hoped.

Aided by several competitors’ withdrawals and endorsements, Mr. Biden dominated states he was expected to win narrowly, won states he was expected to lose and topped it off with victories in places he hadn’t even visited.

All told, he won 10 of the 14 states that voted on Super Tuesday, while Mr. Sanders took Colorado, Utah, Vermont and probably California. (Mr. Sanders leads there, but the race has not been called.) California is a big deal — it awards far more delegates than any other state — but that doesn’t change the reality coming out of Super Tuesday: While the race certainly isn’t over, Mr. Biden is now the front-runner.

The results were devastating for Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who finished third in her home state and whose delegate haul was in the dozens, while Mr. Biden and Mr. Sanders won hundreds. They were also a stinging rebuke to former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, who had gambled hundreds of millions of dollars on the idea — incorrect, as it turned out — that he could seize moderate voters from Mr. Biden.




Warren Calls Campaign ‘The Honor of a Lifetime’

Senator Elizabeth Warren discussed why she decided to exit the race for the Democratic nomination, and said she was not ready to endorse one of her rivals.

“I will not be running for president in 2020, but I guarantee I will stay in the fight for the hardworking folks across this country who have gotten the short end of the stick over and over. That’s been the fight of my life, and it will continue to be so.” Reporter: “Will you be making an endorsement today? We know that you spoke with both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders yesterday.” “Not today, not today. I need some space around this, and want to take a little time to think a little more. This has been the honor of a lifetime. Ten years ago, I was teaching a few blocks from here, and talking about what was broken in America and ideas for how to fix it, and pretty much nobody wanted to hear it. And I’ve had a chance to get out there and talk with millions of people. Gender in this race, you know, that is the trap question for every woman. If you say, ‘Yeah, there was sexism in this race,’ everyone says ‘Whiner.’ And if you say, ‘No, there was no sexism,’ about a bazillion women think, ‘What planet do you live on?’”

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Senator Elizabeth Warren discussed why she decided to exit the race for the Democratic nomination, and said she was not ready to endorse one of her rivals.CreditCredit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Five candidates ended their campaigns in the past week, in this order:

The dropouts reflected, over the course of just a few days, a decisive consolidation around one standard-bearer in the centrist wing of the Democratic Party, Mr. Biden, and one on the left, Mr. Sanders. (Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii is still in the race, but she is averaging less than 1 percent in polls and has won only two delegates, both from American Samoa.)

Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Washington will all vote on Tuesday.

Michigan is particularly important because it is the first of the former “blue wall” states — the ones that decided the 2016 election — to hold its primary. (The other two, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, won’t vote until April.) The Democratic nominee will almost certainly need to win back those states to beat President Trump, and Mr. Sanders is focusing heavily on them: On Thursday, he canceled a rally in Mississippi to go to Michigan.

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