Former Vice President Joe Biden campaign is attempting to consolidate the so-called ‘center lane’ vote following his win in South Carolina.
David Plouffe on MSNBC just now: "This is a two person race right now." Says there's only two people who can accept the Democratic Party nomination right now – Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden.
— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) March 1, 2020
Plouffe is not an official Biden campaign worker but knows him dating back to their work together in the Obama Administration. He’s arguing from a Democratic Party establishment vs. populist position under the guise the former is more of a return to normalcy against the latter.
It’s not hard to figure out Plouffe’s target. He’s quite concerned Mike Bloomberg, more than any other candidate, may fracture the ‘center lane’ on Super Tuesday, allowing Sanders a majority of delegates.
“Biden is going to be, I think, really harmed on Tuesday because Bloomberg is going to take votes and delegates,” Plouffe also said on MSNBC noting Sanders will likely lead the delegate count after Super Tuesday. “Not all of that would have gone to Biden, but I think it’s fair to say a lot of them would.”
Bloomberg’s role in the Democratic race is both interesting and mercurial. He did not appear on the ballot, despite showing up at last week’s South Carolina debate. An appearance most everyone thought was abysmal. Bloomberg’s hammering Super Tuesday states with campaign ad after campaign ad plus rally after rally. He’ll air a three-minute response to President Donald Trump’s coronavirus plan on Sunday night.
The concern regarding Bloomberg’s Super Tuesday strategy is understandable. His poll numbers hang around the teens despite a higher unlikability rating compared to other candidates. Plouffe is correct in guessing the numbers would likely filter to more establishment candidates like Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, and Biden. There’s a direct link to Biden’s poll plunge in Texas and the rise of Bloomberg. Buttigieg is also rising in the Texas polls, although not at a rate which puts him anywhere near the top or even the double digits.
One still has to wonder whether Bloomberg’s long game is a potential contested convention. It’s a risky strategy given the rather static results of the early primary states. The only real surprise was Buttigieg’s performance in Iowa and New Hampshire. He won zero delegates in South Carolina, at the moment, and isn’t doing well in other states. Yet it may not be enough to get Buttigieg out until after Super Tuesday.
There is enough of a so-called ‘center lane’ vote to push Sanders back to the fringes if the polls are to be believed. The problem is no one, outside of Tom Steyer, is willing to leave the race. A 57-delegate lead for Biden and Sanders is far from insurmountable. Super Tuesday will likely garner several dropouts from the center lane, but may not be enough to put Biden in the lead for those votes. Morning Consult noted the Bloomberg supporters are the only group that sees Biden as their ‘second choice.’ Biden supporters typically have Sanders as their second choice, although Bloomberg is within four-percentage points.
We may see a repeat of 2016 where everyone expects Sanders’ bubble to burst but he rides it to November. The voter anger is palpable especially towards the so-called establishment of the Democrat Party. The rage, understandably, never quelled after the 2016 shenanigans involving Hillary Clinton. It may never die regardless of who comes out on top.