Super Tuesday Part 2: Where Is Bernie Sanders' Youth Vote?

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Miss., Sunday, March 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)


Tuesday night was a big night for Joe Biden, with clear sweeps of key states – in particular, Michigan – and establishing himself as the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party in the 2020 presidential campaign.

Biden’s win in Michigan is impressive in multiple ways, particularly as it’s Bernie Sanders who billed himself as the working man’s candidate, but just as important is the realization that Democrats have to be facing right now: There is no youth vote, and there never was.

Where Are The Young Voters?

The strategy was questionable from the start, but it’s only become more clear as this primary has gone on that young voters simply are not showing up on election day. Biden is winning counties with college towns and other areas where young voters have been polling well. But it’s one thing to answer a poll or go to a rally, and it’s quite another to show up on election day, and young voters are not doing that.

That’s sending Sanders’ campaign crashing into the ground hard. There is no path to the nomination for Sanders that doesn’t include young voters in his coalition. His dominance with Hispanic voters appears to have gotten stagnant. His appeal with black voters is zero. Working men are moving into Biden’s campaign. The former Vice President has all the momentum behind him. Sanders has to flat out dominate in the remaining states, and there’s no indication that he can pull that off.


But What Does That Mean for Trump?

If the Democratic Party is unifying behind Biden, it means a unified front opposing Donald Trump. Most importantly, tonight was an early look at how blue-collar states are looking ahead to the general election. Biden has a lot of momentum behind him after Michigan, but these are places that Trump won in 2016. Trump will have to work very hard to keep those voters on his side.

But the thing is, it was close in 2016. If Tuesday’s numbers are indicative of anything, the vote in 2016 – both the Democratic primary and the general election – was a very anti-Hillary vote. Biden can win this area because he comes across as much more approachable than Hillary, who didn’t even show up in 2016. Granted, Tuesday’s viral video clip of Biden cursing at and threatening to slap an autoworker doesn’t come across well, and it happened too late in the election day to make a difference in the turnout, but it seems like that won’t move the vote one way or another.

Trump can’t neglect (and I don’t think he will) the midwest, especially states like Michigan and Pennsylvania. He will have to make the case that he is the one who can best represent them. Biden has to make the case that Trump is not doing enough for them, which could be a hard sell unless the markets continue to decline and we do hit a recession.


Should We Expect a Vice Presidential Pick?

I’m not too sure that either side wants to make that commitment yet, because it’s so early and you don’t want to commit yourself to something that big and be unable to take it back, but it’s very certain that these talks are happening. You can expect both of them to be considering a female VP pick, and probably a minority female at that.

Kamala Harris is the obvious choice, but she has a lot of baggage from her time as a prosecutor. I think that, despite not being a minority candidate, Amy Klobuchar would be a solid choice for Biden. Elizabeth Warren might be tapped, but she was unable to connect with voters and you need someone who can do that.

Stacey Abrams of Georgia will get a lot of speculation, but she lost her own state and publicly rebuked the Biden campaign for tossing out speculation that she might be Biden’s pick. Tulsi Gabbard could be a great pick for Biden, but she would have to drop out first (it is frankly unclear why she hasn’t yet).

Bottom Line

Biden’s the nominee. Unless something really earth-shattering happens, there is no path for Sanders. That is good news for Biden, but that also means he has to find some way to pick up the pieces of Sanders’ insurgency. Sanders’ supporters aren’t just fans. They’re acolytes. Biden will have to win them over. He’ll have a chance on Sunday to win them over, and Sanders will have a chance to land some hard blows on Biden.


That bitterness, though, is exactly what Trump wants. And if that is how this continues, then it’s going to make Democratic unity a lot harder.


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