First things first: We certainly know who the biggest winner was — Joe Biden. Just a couple of weeks ago, pundits scrambled to write the definitive Joe Biden political obituary. Today, Biden can claim the mantle of frontrunner again, at least for a while. When the dust settles in California, Bernie Sanders will likely have gotten more delegates in last night’s Super Tuesday sweepstakes, putting back in the lead. A near-even split is a very long way from the dominant performance Sanders promised, though, and needed to avoid a brokered convention that Sanders will inevitably lose.
So who lost Super Tuesday? Let’s go in descending order:
Bernie Sanders — He got stunned by an underfunded and not terribly well organized Biden campaign, but he’s still alive in the race. Sanders has pledged to be able to steamroll Donald Trump in a national election with his grassroots enthusiasm, especially among younger voters, but they failed to show up yesterday despite large turnouts in some states. Biden beat him in all the states where Trump is likely to be favored in November, plus a couple – Massachusetts and Minnesota – that Sanders should have won. That might take the gloss off Sanders’ general-election argument, especially since Biden barely campaigned in several of those states.
The Democratic Party — For Democrats, it’s a mixed bag. They no longer have to fear a Sanders juggernaut overtaking the ticket, and with that the inevitable rebranding of their party as Democratic Socialists. This might yet save them from devastating down-ballot losses, but in the short run means a long fight to a brokered convention that might end up splitting the party anyway. They’re left with Biden, his centrist appeal and his poorly organized and funded campaign, rather than Sanders’ organization and fundraising prowess combined with his Marxist beliefs. Mixed bag hardly does that choice justice.
Elizabeth Warren — It’s tough to say that Warren lost on the same scale because she was never in it to begin with. The senator from Massachusetts had a polling bump in the fall but has declined precipitously ever since. She scored delegates in the Iowa caucus debacle but finished a distant fourth in neighboring New Hampshire. Finishing third place in her home should spell the end of Warren’s campaign. An even more bitter sting: Warren finished third place among women in her own home state, ten points behind Biden.
Michael Bloomberg — AKA the $500 Million Bust. Bloomberg lost almost as big as Sanders did, although he likely won’t acknowledge it. Bloomberg jumped into the race four months ago because of a perceived deficiency in the Biden campaign, and he has spent $500 million of his own money since then. That has managed to buy just 46 delegates (with California’s distribution left to be seen) at a per-unit cost of around $10 million per delegate. Even with his national media saturation, Bloomberg never came close to winning in any state. Biden’s rebound has made Bloomberg not just a redundant figure but a somewhat ridiculous one as well.
For my money, though, the biggest loser last night was … Fidel Castro. Looks like even Democrats aren’t ready for socialism — yet.