On Super Tuesday, Americans witnessed the most historic comeback in American politics. Joe Biden’s strengths as a general election candidate — and the incontrovertible evidence that he is the Democrat best positioned to beat Donald Trump — were on full display. The former Vice President imbued the electorate with his humanity, empathy, and strength. Jim Clyburn said it best: “We know Joe, and Joe knows us.”
Most observers thought the best case scenario for Joe Biden was to win seven states, and finish at least 100 delegates behind Bernie Sanders, but by winning 10 states, and earning a plurality of 50-70 delegates, Joe Biden enters a two week window in March where he has a chance to extend his delegate lead to a level where it would be nearly mathematically impossible for Sanders to catch up.
On Super Tuesday, in every single state, Bernie Sanders earned a smaller share of the vote than he earned in those same states in 2016. For example, Sanders share of the vote dropped 17% from 2016 in North Carolina, 12% in Virginia, 8% in California, 23% in Colorado, and a whopping 35% in Vermont.
Overperformance and Momentum
The results all across the country were remarkable. Given the opportunity to make his case to voters in states that fully represent the diversity of our country, Joe Biden overperformed by every measure.
In less than a week, the differences between Joe Biden’s Real Clear polling averages on February 27 and the final primary results in Super Tuesday states skyrocketed into the double digits — up by 23 points in North Carolina, by 14 points in Texas, and by 24 points in Arkansas.
To take advantage of Joe Biden’s post-South Carolina surge, Unite the Country continued to marry message research data with the speed of the news cycle. We created a momentum spot that was deployed to Super Tuesday states and was overwhelmingly our top creative by engagement and positive sentiment. At the same time, we significantly invested on urban radio, investing in 22 markets across seven states, in communities where our radio would reach multiple targeted Congressional districts.
Depth and Breadth of Support for Joe Biden
African American voters, who are the foundation of the Democratic party and know all too well that social and economic justice are not guaranteed in America, are standing up to say that Joe Biden represents the idea that if we turn toward each other we will succeed. In both Virginia and Alabama, he had the support of roughly 7 in 10 African American voters.
The breadth of his coalition was also impressive, as exit polls showed a surge in support from suburban women, the same group who helped power the Democratic blue wave in the 2018 mid-terms.
It has also become clear that Joe Biden — not Bernie Sanders — is the candidate driving Democratic turnout. When more Democrats vote, they pull the lever for Joe Biden. In Virginia, turnout was up nearly 70% and Joe Biden won the state by 30 points. Nationally, Biden received 900,000 more votes than Sanders. The surge of turnout showed the enthusiasm behind Joe Biden.
Bernie Sanders’ support hit a ceiling in the early states and on Super Tuesday.
Joe Biden’s wins were remarkable and his momentum is national in nature and not confined to a particular region. Take, for example, Minnesota. Bernie Sanders won the state by 20 points in 2016. Mike Bloomberg spent $14 million there this time around. Yet, Joe Biden won Minnesota handily.
Sanders’ disastrous Super Tuesday hurts for another reason: he had hoped to bank some wins given that the contests on March 10th and March 17th are more favorable for Joe Biden. States like Michigan, Missouri, Florida and Illinois, reflect further strongholds for Biden: working class voters, suburban women, and African Americans. National polls, and our internal data show that Biden has consolidated his coalition, and now has a significant lead over Senator Sanders. FiveThirtyEight now projects Joe Biden will win enough pledged delegates to go into the convention with a majority. Our singular job here right now at Unite the Country is stay hyper focused on the goal of Biden winning delegates.
Eight of the next eleven contests take place in states won by Hillary Clinton in 2016. As evidence of his upcoming troubles, Sanders yesterday gave up on Mississippi, with the hope of shoring up his support in Michigan. Here at Unite the Country, we have gone up with a significant television buy in Detroit and Flint, and invested heavily in a digital effort to not only drive up turnout, but also to persuade the same type of 2016 Sanders primary voters who abandoned him on Super Tuesday. We’ve also invested in Missouri and Mississippi.
Looking forward to March 17th, polls out of Florida now show Joe Biden with a nearly 50-point lead, and we are optimistic about our work in Arizona, Illinois, and Ohio. Just like we did on Super Tuesday, we will approach the March 17th states with a combination of strategic television/radio buys, and a digital focus on specific congressional districts.
The reality for Sanders is this: By the end of March, roughly 60% of the delegates will be chosen, and if we do our job between now and the end of the month, Sanders will have no viable path to the nomination. The Sanders campaign’s decision to begin running a hyper-negative campaign is proof they know this as well.
Joe Biden has a winning message that unifies the party and the nation, a diverse coalition required to succeed in November, and the momentum necessary to rack up wins in March and beyond.