By Arturo Castañares
The Democratic political establishment has begun to jump on the growing bandwagon of former Vice-President Joe Biden on the eve of the biggest day in the primary elections season.
Tuesday will be what is called ‘Super Tuesday’ when 14 states, including California, hold their primary elections. 1,357 delegates will be up for grabs in one day, accounting for nearly half of the total delegates awarded during the primaries. After Tuesday, the remaining 32 states represent the remaining 2,467 delegates.
California will allocate 415 delegates or 30% of Super Tuesday’s delegates. Political polls in California on Sunday showed Bernie Sanders leading with 34.3%, Joe Biden at 18%, Elizabeth Warren at 17.3%, and Michael Bloomberg at 10.5%.
On Sunday, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg announced he was suspending his campaign, and hinted he would consider endorsing Biden. After a phone call with Biden and a separate call with former President Barack Obama on Saturday, Buttigieg said he would sleep on it and decide about an endorsement.
By Monday, not only had Buttigieg endorsed Biden, but Minnesota US Senator Amy Klobuchar also suspended her campaign and announced her endorsement of Biden, too.
Later on Monday, former Nevada US Senator and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced his endorsement of Biden. Biden and Reid served together in the US Senate for 22 years, and Reid was a staunch supporter of the Obama/Biden Administration during his time as Senate Majority Leader. And late Monday afternoon, former presidential candidate and former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke announced he too will endorse Biden at an event in Dallas on Monday night.
Billionaire Tom Steyer, who spent an estimated $280 million of his own money on his campaign, also dropped out after Saturday’s primary election in South Carolina where he came in a distant third to both Biden and Sanders, but did not earn any delegates.
The remaining top-tier candidate is former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg, also a multi-billionaire, has not yet appeared on any ballots in the first four states. He is funding his own campaign and has already spent an estimated $300 million.
The exit of Buttigeieg, Klobuchar, and Steyer may yield more votes for Biden than Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who is a more liberal candidate than Biden. Since the beginning of the campaigns, Sanders and Massachusetts US Senator Elizabeth Warren have been seen as competing for the more left-leaning segment of the Democratic electorate, and Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Tom Steyer, and others more for the moderate and conservative segments of the Democratic vote.
The battle for delegates in important for candidates to win the Democratic nomination. A total of 1,991 delegates are needed to clinch the nomination outright. If no candidate reaches that number by the last primary election on June 2, then the candidate will go to the Democratic Convention in July without a presumptive nominee.
In that case, delegates at the convention will vote on the floor through successive rounds of voting until a nominee is chosen in what is known as a contested convention. No Democratic convention has gone to a floor vote to chose its nominee since 1952.
Other prominent Democratic leaders that have endorsed Joe Biden include former Virginia Governor and former DNC Chairman Tery McAuliffe, former California US Senator Barbara Boxer, and former Arkansas US Senator Blanche Lincoln.
The most anticipated endorsement is that of Barack Obama, who as of this weekend, still maintained that he would not endorse anyone during the primaries. Biden, of course, served as Vice-President under Obama, and the two have said they are close friends. An endorsement from Obama could help solidify support for Biden among moderate and minority voters.
As the last Democratic president, Obama is still considered the titular head of the Party and remains hugely popular among Democrats.