Sanders winning the Eastern Vermont primary is expected, though his winning margin is narrow enough to raise a lot of questions. Warren placing fourth in the Northern Massachusetts primary, below the delegate threshold, is an issue for her. Her gracious concession speech wasn’t carried live [clarification: on CNN], while Biden’s phoned-in speech from South Carolina was. Par for the course for the obstacles she’s faced all her life, and during this campaign, as a woman.
There was a tweet yesterday showing Warren greeting Buttigieg, Klobuchar and Biden supporters after bringing her supporters donuts yesterday. It embodies everything “Dick Nixon” (Justin Sherin) said about her last night:
There’s still a lot of hope for Warren supporters like me. Manys the slips twixt cup and lip that could happen to Mayor Pete, Amy and Bernie in the next few weeks. A humane person could be around to pick up the pieces, and she would be an excellent candidate.
The Amy campaign has to be happy this morning, and the Pete campaign should also be pleased. Goodbye Andrew Yang and Michael Bennett. I’m sad that Steyer and Tulsi didn’t join the fail parade.
Bloomberg is the wild card. A friend of mine told me the other day that he’s voting for Bloomberg because my friend feels that he’s sitting at the blackjack table with 17, the dealer is showing a face card, and he needs to take a hit even though it’s crazy to do it. I don’t feel the same way, but yesterday Bloomberg showed the kind of wild card energy he brings to the race. Yesterday morning, some podcaster tweeted out a recording of Bloomberg saying that he concentrated cops on minority neighborhoods because “that’s where the crime is”. In response, Trump tweeted out “WOW, BLOOMBERG IS A TOTAL RACIST”. Then, he deleted the tweet. Why? Obviously, because Trump’s supporters supports stop and frisk, and it offends his base to call a white man a racist.
In response, Bloomberg issued this statement that began with an apology about his failure to end stop-and-frisk soon enough, continued to point out some of his achievements as mayor in minority communities, and ended with a solid attack on Trump. He responded to Trump’s tweet, not the podcaster’s attack. It’s about as good a statement as one can make in the circumstances, and it shows that he’s serious about winning, since billionaires and apologies are like oil and water.
This is Bloomberg’s strength: he wants it, bad, and it shows; he dwells inside Trump’s head, and whenever he goads Trump into an attack, he just takes a baseball bat to him, and Democrats love it. Attacks on Trump are far more palatable to Democrats than the 19th debate over M4A, because what unites every Democrat is the desire to beat Trump. If you’re Bloomberg-curious, this has to be part of the reason: Trump fears him, and he spends every day shitting on Trump. (Though I’m betting that Bloomberg-curiosity will end with his first contact with a debate stage, when his rusty fumbling meets the buzz saw of the time-sharpened debate skills of the top four candidates, especially Warren and Sanders.)
The problem that bedevils Bloomberg and every other challenger to Sanders is that the anti-Sanders opposition is split. Bernie has a hard core of supporters. Other Democrats are divided over the flavors of the day (Buttigieg and Klobuchar, right now), Warren, Bloomberg and certainly Biden as we get into the South. As we saw in the New Hampshire debates, nobody wants to go after Bernie hammer and tongs, because they don’t want to alienate the Sanders supporters that they need to pick up to win.
This is similar to the situation with the Republicans in 2016. Support for the non-Trump candidates ping-ponged between each of them depending on whatever ephemeral event brought them into the spotlight. Because each of them wanted to pick up the pieces when the “unelectable” Trump flamed out, they limited themselves to a few half-hearted, ineffectual attacks in the early campaign. Once they realized he was a serious contender and started hitting back hard, it was too late. Obviously, it’s nowhere near too late for Democrats — still, Bu-mentum, Bloom-mentum, Liz-mentum or the Klobucharge needs to manifest itself soon, otherwise we’ll all be feeling the Bern.[Update: See Steve M for more detail on the collective action problem with the non-Sanders candidates.]