On Tuesday, following key endorsements from Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden was able to secure 10 of 14 states in the Democratic primary race, establishing himself as the new frontrunner to Sen. Bernie Sanders.
With just under a month until the Wisconsin primary election, the race appears to be consolidating into two candidates: Biden and Sanders.
Since the beginning of the race, this dichotomy of a progressive versus a moderate candidate was expected to be the test for Democratic voters. Ultimately, the moderate wing of the party consolidated under Joe Biden propelling him to a strong Super Tuesday performance.
Biden was even able to earn the endorsement of former congressman Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, a progressive candidate. This may have also helped his upset victory in Texas.
Wisconsin voters are left with the choice: do they want a moderate candidate that could draw support from anti-Trump Republicans, or a progressive candidate that could increase voter turnout?
Besides just the ideology of the candidates, are there other factors that contribute to which candidate to choose?
Early general election polling suggests Sanders has between a one and four point advantage in Pennsylvania. The same polls give Biden between a tie and an eight point advantage.
Here in Wisconsin, both are polling somewhere between a seven point advantage to Trump and a two point advantage to Biden or Sanders.
Biden’s strategy will likely involve pulling over moderate Republican voters, which has been the appeal of Klobuchar and Buttigieg. He will have to also compromise with progressive Democrats who will more likely prefer Sanders.
To do this, Biden will likely choose a young, progressive running mate. It’s hard to say who that person will be at this point, but people speculate Stacy Abrams, Kamala Harris, D-Calif., or Andrew Gillum. Some even suggest Amy Klobuchar, who would be a more moderate choice.
Qualifications aside, Andrew Gillum is the only person in this list from a swing-state, being the former gubernatorial candidate from Florida after losing a close contest to Ron DeSantis.
Stacy Abrams also lost by a narrow margin in her Georgia gubernatorial race to Brian Kemp. This race was highly controversial following voter-suppression and voter purging by the Georgia Republican legislature. Abrams has since become an advocate for voter rights.
The question for Sanders becomes, will he be able to garnish enough progressive support to reestablish himself ahead of Biden?
Sanders has faced criticism from his supporter base, “Bernie Bros,” who have created a toxic social media campaign scrutinizing everyone who doesn’t support Sanders as the lead.
In order to counter the Biden moment, Sanders’ last appeal to voters has to be the history of a “stretch-candidate.”
John Kerry in 2004 was the safe candidate. Hillary Clinton in 2016 was the safe candidate. Obama and Trump — in very different ways — were the risky choices, and they won. People generally gravitate toward change.
The one difference between Sanders’ and Obama’s campaign of “change” was that Obama was able to unite Democratic voters. Sanders has done the opposite.
Riley Sumner is a sophomore at UW-Madison majoring in Journalism and Computer Science. Do you think Bernie can overcome this 'Joe-mentum'? Send all comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.