It’s hard to overstate the degree to which the coronavirus pandemic has made a complete mess of the Democratic nomination process. Joe Biden won the South Carolina on February 29th and went on to dominate Super Tuesday on March 3rd. And that’s right about the time that everyone in America began paying more attention to the coronavirus than the race. A week later things began shutting down all over the country.
Instead of a coronation for Biden, the race went into a holding pattern. It was on the back burner. And because he hadn’t been completely defeated, Bernie Sanders decided to ignore the obvious trend and began asking for another debate. And weeks later, Sanders is still playing this game. He appeared on Seth Myers’ show Monday and said he still has a path to the nomination:
“There is a path. It is admittedly a narrow path,” Sanders said.
He added, “We have a strong grassroots movement who believe that we have got to stay in, in order to continue the fight to make the world know that we need Medicare for All, that we need to raise the minimum wage to a living wage, that we need paid family and medical leave,” Sanders said.
No one who isn’t on the Sanders payroll thinks he has a real shot at this point. He’s staying in for vanity or maybe stubbornness. His only real shot at the nomination at this point is that Biden gets the coronavirus. But by refusing to acknowledge Biden has this won, he’s denying Biden the moment of triumph that, under ordinary circumstances, would result in lots of TV time and big fundraising. Instead, Biden is stuck in his rec room making awkward videos and trying to appear relevant. The lack of media attention and the limitation on personal contact has put a real crimp in Biden’s fundraising:
Top Biden fund-raisers and donors, as well as campaign, super PAC and Democratic Party officials, described urgent efforts to reimagine the ways they raise money during a pandemic and global economic slowdown. And in nearly two dozen interviews, they expressed deepening concern that the downturn could choke off the flow of small online donations as millions of people lose their jobs…
Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden face the same headwinds. But the president began March with an enormous financial advantage over the Democrats: a combined roughly $225 million in cash on hand between his re-election campaign, the Republican National Committee and their shared committees. Mr. Biden and the Democratic National Committee had only $20 million, after accounting for debts…
The coronavirus…has sapped overall online donations to Democrats on ActBlue, the party’s main portal for online giving. The site processed an average of $7.2 million per day of donations in the first half of March; that number has plunged to $3.7 million on average since March 16.
The Biden campaign refused to comment for the NY Times’ piece so it’s not clear how much money Biden has raised in March. But what’s obvious is that it’s far less than he would have raised if he’d been proclaimed the nominee by the media, seen Sanders drop out, and raised money from that point until the convention.
Speaking of which, the Democratic National Convention is still scheduled to take place in Milwaukee starting on July 13th. That’s around the same time the Olympics in Tokyo were scheduled to begin. The Olympics have now been put off until next year. Last week Politico reported many Democrats were skeptical the convention would take place as planned:
“Given what the experts are saying, delegates may end up on a phone call” selecting their nominee, Bob Mulholland, a DNC member from California, said in a text message. “Push 1 for Sanders, push 2 for Biden, push 3 for Bloomberg and push 8 for Yang, etc.”
Still, Mulholland said of the convention’s prospects, “It is full speed ahead until a staffer yells ‘Iceberg.’”
I’m not sure I would have used the Titanic metaphor there, but maybe it’s appropriate. We may see a convention on Zoom with Biden accepting the nomination from his rec room at home.
Here’s Sanders on his narrow path to the nomination: