COLUMBIA, USA – A resounding victory in South Carolina has thrust Joe Biden back into the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, but that could all change in two days when voters go to the polls in 14 “Super Tuesday” states.
With 48% of the vote in South Carolina, the former vice president more than doubled the 20% won by national frontrunner Bernie Sanders, reviving Biden’s campaign and positioning him as the senator’s leading rival.
“This is a big boost for us,” Biden said Sunday on CNN, but “we have a long way to go.”
Sanders continues to hold poll leads in many of the Super Tuesday states – including the biggest prize, California – and he had double-digit leads in two nationwide surveys released Friday, February 28.
“I think we’ve got a great chance to win in California, in Texas, in Massachusetts and a number of states,” Sanders said Sunday, March 1, on CBS.
But into an already turbulent Democratic race – which has gradually winnowed down a record-large field – Biden’s victory Saturday, February 29, injected a note of uncertainty.
“The biggest question is whether this will slingshot Joe Biden into victory in some Super Tuesday states,” said Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.
The victory there, powered by support from black voters, was Biden’s first in the race, but came at a crucial time, helping dispel some earlier doubts about the 77-year-old’s energy level and broad appeal.
The money factor
As the race goes forward, money will loom ever larger.
Biden claimed he had been outspent 40-to-1 in South Carolina, but said his victory there brought in an infusion of $5 million in overnight donations; Sanders has raised huge amounts in mostly small donations, including $46 million in February; and the way billionaires Bloomberg and Steyer deploy their enormous wealth going forward could have a serious impact.
Biden argued on Sunday that as a centrist, he would be far more effective atop the party’s ticket in November against Trump than Sanders, who calls himself a democratic socialist.
“I can bring along Democratic victory up and down the ticket,” Biden said on ABC. “I can win the United States Senate. I can keep the House and increase the number” there.
In his victory speech Saturday, Barack Obama’s former number two alluded to some Democrats’ fears that Sanders might be too radical for many American voters.
“We have the option of winning big or losing big,” Biden said.
Trump himself is said to see Sanders as an easy target in a country where the “socialist” label can be toxic.
Sanders on Sunday shrugged off both Trump’s tweets and Biden’s cautions.
While criticizing several of Biden’s past stances – including his vote for the war in Iraq – Sanders sounded a conciliatory note.
“At the end of the day,” he told ABC, “I have known Joe Biden for a very long time. He’s a decent guy. I have no doubt if I win he’ll be there, and if he wins, I’ll be there.”
The 78-year-old said he was sure Democrats would come together in the face of a president he said was “a pathological liar, running a corrupt administration.”
The results Tuesday could help clarify the Democratic race – either giving Sanders an almost insurmountable lead or auguring weeks or months of continued uncertainty. – Rappler.com