Endorsements from more than just progressives would add legitimacy to the grassroots effort.
For most supporters of the Vermont independent, Super Tuesday was a disappointment. Bernie Sanders showed potential to all but secure the nomination, but last-minute exits from the race turning into endorsements for Joe Biden from both Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar proved almost fatal for the most progressive campaign in the race. However, they did not receive the most ire from Sanders’s most faithful supporters. That deep honor goes to Elizabeth Warren, who stayed in the race just long enough to split the progressive vote and give another boost to the Biden campaign. For Sanders, one question remains: where do we go now?
First and foremost, stop and assess. Can Sanders still win the nomination? All indicators point to yes. Despite not gaining as much traction as the campaign hoped for, Super Tuesday was not a complete failure. Biden and Sanders are neck and neck, and with all other viable candidates exiting contention and leaving the nomination to be decided between the two of them, a Sanders surge is absolutely plausible. As for electability, often considered the most vital quality needed in a general election against Donald Trump, Sanders still appears in good standing. He consistently polls not only ahead of Trump in national polls but does so better than Biden and other candidates now gone. Assessment proves mostly positive.
Next, the Sanders campaign and its supporters need to look as to how Sanders can win the nomination. As a first step, the campaign should have already shifted efforts to a tremendous scale for the six states voting Tuesday, March 10, and to the large zones of Illinois and Florida that vote March 17, the latter of which leans heavily toward the moderate side of the scale so far. After that the campaign can have a little space to breathe with only a handful of primary action, all from smaller states, until April 28, at which point the nominee is essentially, if not formally, concrete.
Simultaneously, the campaign needs to heavily invest in seeking endorsements from prominent Democrats — a weakness evidently exploited for Super Tuesday. So far, Sanders’s biggest endorsements have come from young (and, at times, controversial) progressives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, alongside less-appreciated Democratic primary dropouts Bill de Blasio and Marianne Williamson.
Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, frequently identified as a decisive voice for many of the state’s voters, recently drew public attention by saying that Sanders never even attempted to court an endorsement. That move (or lack thereof) may have contributed to the crushing defeat Sanders suffered to Biden in the South Carolina primary, in which many news organizations declared Biden the winner the very moment that polls closed.
Now, Sanders needs to get a nomination from Warren. His potential to win hinges entirely on his ability to unify a large progressive movement, which he can only do if he gains massive support from Warren’s crowd. Outside of that, he should look to individuals near and dear to specific states preparing to vote. Personally, coming from Missouri, I know that an endorsement from former Senator Claire McCaskill (strongly adored by Democrats across the state) could heavily swing an electorate that, as of the most recent polls, has a large majority of its voters split between Biden and Mike Bloomberg.
Despite a disappointing Super Tuesday, Sanders can still win the race. His campaign may have to adapt to strengthen the odds, but he can win this race and, most importantly for me and for millions of Democrats, defeat the autocrat-in-chief. The Democratic Party currently stands at the crossroads of the neoliberal policy that they have used to get in office for years and a new wave of progressivism, and Bernie Sanders might just be the key to changing the direction of the party and of the country as a whole.