Opinion: This Super Tuesday is for second-choice Dems

Sanders must unite the progressive vote with both Buttigieg and Klobuchar suspending their campaigns to endorse Biden.


Wyatt Dlouhy

Students for Pete cheer during a caucus watch for former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg party at the Bell Center in Des Moines on Monday, February 3, 2020. At the time of the watch party, no precincts had finalized results. Buttigieg gave a hopeful speech and claimed victory in Iowa. At the time of the watch party no precincts had reported official results.

Becca Bright, Columnist

On the evening of March 1, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg withdrew from the 2020 presidential race. Nearly 12 hours later, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., also suspended her campaign. Following their campaigns’ end, the two moderate Democrats have endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden’s run.

With Buttigieg and Klobuchar out of the race, that leaves two top-polling candidates: Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

This shift in supporting second-choice candidates will be the landscape for Super Tuesday. Moderate-leaning voters who supported Buttgieg and Klobuchar are now being encouraged to support Biden.

The same shift must happen within the progressive vote.

While I proudly caucused for Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., only a month ago, I find myself among left voters whose support is shifting to Sanders’ campaign to impact Super Tuesday. Because this major primary day is designed to clarify the likelihood of the Democratic nominee, voters must invest in the likelihood of their candidate.

For this primary, voters dismiss the campaigns of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, and billionaire Michael Bloomberg. Out of the now five Democrats still in the race, these two candidates’ polls — as well as popularity among their own party — has been mostly overcast with suspicion and lack of presence.

These candidates should not be valued like celebrities; they should be valued for the projection of their agenda.

Gabbard has not been on a debate stage since the November debate in Atlanta, and she currently polls at about 1 percent. Her presence in the mainstream media has been extremely sparse.

Although Bloomberg is polling right behind Biden and Warren around 12 percent — despite a very late entry in the race — Biden is still the moderate to be taken the most seriously. Two popular moderates’ endorsements of his campaign is a major advantage for Biden.

Even former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, has endorsed Biden. This alone is remarkable for the Biden campaign, given that Texas is a huge target for Democrats in this 2020 race.

These elections stretch literally from sea to sea — from California, to Louisiana, all the way to Maine. A total of 14 states and one U.S. territory will hold primaries, totaling 1,357 delegates. What makes this day of primaries so “super” is that it takes 1,991 delegates to win the nomination.

This very probable shift of second-choice voters toward Biden’s potential as the nominee has mostly solidified the moderate vote. They are now much more unified, and therefore stronger.

Progressive voters must do the same if they logically want a progressive nominee to win the presidency, and not a moderate.

The left cannot afford to strategize against a split within itself.

Those in support of either Warren or Sanders (or both) must remember that the priority of the progressive movement is that it continues to move. These candidates should not be valued like celebrities; they should be valued for the projection of their agenda.

Sanders simply has more likelihood to make the progressive vote within the Democratic Party, the winning vote. He won the primaries in New Hampshire and Nevada. His polling has remained stronger than that of Warren.

Democrats are already split between moderates and progressives. The left cannot afford to strategize against a split within itself.

Just as the moderates have mostly gathered around one candidate, so too should the progressives that are voting today.

A unified vote for Sanders’ campaign should not be seen as a disregard of Warren’s qualification to lead the progressive movement. I still consider her my first-choice candidate, and I will not regret caucusing for her.

Voters, including myself, would also do well to remember that a Sanders’ nomination is not an abandonment of Warren’s agenda, as their agendas are easily comparable.

Even so, it is the ideology and vision of progress that needs loyalty, not the individual figure.

While a Sanders-Warren ticket is a possibility, that reality depends on a progressive winner of Super Tuesday — not a moderate one.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.