The kaleidoscope of the Democratic race was shaken up again this week as Joe Biden cemented his remarkable comeback with a series of victories on Super Tuesday. But his leftwing rival Bernie Sanders was far from beaten. Here’s who was up and down this week in US politics.
Great week: Joe Biden
Only a couple of weeks ago we were all reading the Biden campaign its last rites. But after the former vice-president to Barack Obama pulled off an impressive victory in South Carolina, his fellow centrists Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar dropped out and backed him, allowing Biden to present himself as the most viable moderate candidate going into Super Tuesday. It worked a treat; Biden won 10 states, including Texas and Massachusetts, the home state of former liberal contender Elizabeth Warren. The race is far from over, but Biden has decisively reclaimed the mantle of frontrunner from Sanders. He won’t give it up easily.
Disappointing week: Bernie Sanders
The leftwing firebrand increased his national poll lead following his landslide in Nevada, and had hoped to present himself as the unassailable frontrunner with an emphatic victory on Super Tuesday this week. But only in California did such a victory manifest itself, and he will have been particularly disappointed to have lost Texas, Virginia and Massachusetts. In national polling Biden has now reclaimed a slight lead. Nevertheless, California is so big that its huge delegate haul keeps Sanders firmly in the race, and he has a passionate and impregnable base of support – particularly among the young and Latinos – which is likely to see him fight hand-to-hand through the next weeks and months of primaries, probably all the way to the Democratic convention in July.
Bad week: Elizabeth Warren
On paper Warren could have been the ideal candidate to unite the liberal and centrist wings of the party, but after a strong early start she only managed to cut through again in her powerful attacks on Bloomberg during the debates. She was squeezed out by Sanders on the left, her healthcare plans came under harsh attack in the media, and sexism also played a role in her failure to catch fire.
She quit the race on Thursday after a disastrous showing on Super Tuesday in which she failed to place higher than third anywhere – even on her home turf of Massachusetts. One of the hardest aspects of ending her campaign, she said, was thinking about “all those little girls who are going to have to wait four more years” for a female president.
But asked whether she would now be endorsing either Sanders or Biden, Warren said: “Well, let’s take a deep breath and spend a little time on that. We don’t have to decide that this minute.” Warren swinging behind either of the remaining candidates could have a significant impact on the next phase of the race.
Terrible week: Mike Bloomberg
The billionaire former New York mayor bet the farm on skipping the first few states and making a big entrance on Super Tuesday. It didn’t happen. He spent $500m of his $60bn fortune and all he had to show for it was a victory in the US territory of American Samoa, which he won with a grand total of 175 votes. It was an ignominious end for a man who many accused of trying to buy the race, and he bowed out quickly on Wednesday morning, throwing his weight – and, many will hope, his money – behind Biden.
Worst week: Flavor Flav
Thanksgiving dinners across America have been ruined in recent years by family rifts over Donald Trump between liberal youngsters and conservative uncles. But it was an argument over Sanders that tore apart another tightknit group this week: Public Enemy, the pioneering political rap group led by Chuck D and Flavor Flav.
The clock-wearing rapper and dancer was summarily fired over a dispute about a Chuck-led lineup playing at a rally for the Vermont senator, leading to vituperative criticism from his bandmate: “If there was a $bag, Flav would’ve been there front & center. He will not do free benefit shows,” Chuck tweeted.
Spotted at the airport in San Diego by the the Guardian, Flav denied that support for Sanders was at the heart of the dispute, saying: “I don’t have anything against Bernie. I think he’s a good person and I wish him luck … Fuck Trump!”
“Too much politics ruins everything and I hate it,” lamented one fan, having perhaps assumed that Fight the Power was an Amish anthem about foregoing electricity.