The state of the Democratic race

Mickey Arce, Contributing Writer

During these unprecedented times, it can be easy to forget that we are in the middle of an election year. The Democratic primary race for President ended back on April 8, when then-candidate Bernie Sanders did some simple math, accepted his defeat and stepped out of the race. Sanders is a proud Independent Senator from Vermont and a self-described democratic socialist. Bernie Sanders was a top tier candidate for the presidency in many different respects: he outraised all of his non-billionaire opponents, he consistently polled in the top three Democratic candidates nationally, and he qualified for every DNC sponsored debate amongst other things. 

On April 8, when Senator Sanders believed that he did not have a viable path towards the Democratic nomination, he had only won delegate majorities in nine contests. During the 2020 Democratic Primary, Sanders lost states that he had won in 2016 (Oklahoma, Washington, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Maine and Massachusetts). Sanders’ decision to withdraw from the 2020 Democratic Primary was a hard reality to accept for many of his supporters, as he seemed unstoppable after tying first in Iowa, winning New Hampshire and winning in Nevada. During his concession speech, Sanders applauded his enthusiastic base of supporters for allowing him and the movement to get as far as it did. 

Sanders’ exit from the Democratic primary leaves Joe Biden as the presumptive Democratic nominee. Despite Sanders’ popularity, the Democratic Party began to coalesce around Biden well before the Super Tuesday contests — and it made a difference. In addition, the endorsements have been pouring in for Biden after Sanders suspended his campaign. The most prominent voices to endorse Biden have been Bernie Sanders himself and former President Barack Obama. Party unity and defeating Trump seems to be a common theme in these endorsements. 

Can Joe Biden unite the Democratic Party and defeat Trump? Biden has plenty of time to do this and many polls seem to suggest that he can, but rest assured, it will not be an easy road ahead. Though polling suggests that Biden is more likable than Hillary Clinton, and certainly more favorable than Donald Trump, polls are known to be unreliable indicators of real elections. At this point in time, Biden has comfortable leads in the polls; however, in an attempt to expand his lead, he has looked to appeal to Sanders supporters. In doing so, Biden has been slowly moving towards the left, a feat he is pulling off without alienating his moderate base. On the downside, Biden’s age also works against him, as he is four years older than Trump. Biden also lacks the enthusiasm that helped propel Donald Trump and former president Barack Obama to the presidency. Moreover, Biden cannot hold traditional campaign rallies due to current social distancing guidelines set out by the CDC, which complicates his efforts to reach out to voters.   

Joe Biden’s success will ultimately depend on his ability to mobilize voters on all sides of the political spectrum. It will also depend on Trump’s ability to manage the pandemic that we are all experiencing. Biden may not have been the first choice for Democratic voters, maybe not even someone’s tenth pick for President. However, Joe Biden is the last man standing in the Democratic race for President, and it is important for Democratic voters to rally behind him if they want Trump out of office.

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