Politics in Review: Sanders Wins Battle for Utah loses the war on Super Tuesday

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One day after addressing a crowd of supporters in Salt Lake City, progressive Senator Bernie Sanders handily won the battle for the Utah Democratic Presidential Primary on Tuesday. As of late Tuesday night, Sanders gained 34.6% of the vote, leading second place candidate Joe Biden by almost 30,000 votes. Though his popularity among Utah Democrats pushed him to victory, he was dealt repeated blows across the majority of the other 13 states that voted on the delegate-rich day known as “Super Tuesday.” 

As the results began to trickle in across the nation, it was clear that former Vice President Joe Biden had the momentum desperately needed not only to keep him in the race but to give moderates the lead against Sanders’ anti-establishment campaign. Shortly after winning South Carolina on Saturday, Biden was able to pick up the moderate support of the party, as fellow moderate candidates Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar dropped out and endorsed Biden over the weekend. It was apparent the consolidation was in hopes that unifying behind Biden would be enough to stop Senator Sanders. 

The consolidation looks to have paid off. As the night turned into the early hours of Wednesday, Joe Biden gained projected victories in Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Oklahoma, and upset Sanders in the north, taking Minnesota and Massachusetts. Biden also scored a crucial victory in Texas, which carries a whopping 228 delegates that will be delivered proportionally. 

Sanders took victories in his home state of Vermont, Colorado, and Utah. As of this writing, Maine is too close to call, and Sanders holds the lead in California, the wealthiest state in the primary in terms of delegates. 

The former mayor of New York City and billionaire Micheal Bloomberg, who entered the race late, was on the ballot for the first time on Tuesday and is projected to get second or third in most states, and still carry some delegates. The other progressive Senator Elizabeth Warren did not reach delegate viability of 15% in most states and disappointed overall, with many on the left wondering if she inadvertently handicapped Sanders by remaining in the race and not consolidating her endorsement behind him before Tuesday. 

As the dust from the biggest day in the race settles, Biden is expected to have a narrow lead over Sanders in delegates, appearing to turn the race into a two man contest. Bloomberg announced Wednesday that he will drop out and endorse Biden, further boosting the moderates. The race is still uncertain, with fears of a messy scenario where no candidate enters the nominating convention in July with at least 1,991 delegates needed to win outright. If that’s the case, all delegates, including roughly 700 unpledged party leaders, or superdelegates, are free to vote for whoever they like. This is known as a contested convention and is likely to be ugly and divisive, especially if the candidate with the most delegates going in is not chosen. Expect partisans from both sides in the party to entrench if the convention is contested.

The race will continue with primaries next Tuesday. It remains to be seen who can come out on top.

You can see the Super Tuesday results and delegate count here

For more political commentary, see our Politics in Review column. Further breakdowns will be arriving soon!