Drum roll, please. The headlines are seductive:
"Biden wins in S.C., potentially reshaping Democratic race."
"Former vice president becomes first candidate to score clear-cut victory over Sanders."
"With Super Tuesday looming, Biden's victory recasts the Democratic race."
"Winning South Carolina, Biden presses case against Sanders."
But the takeaways from pundits have been more telling.
"We're over the 500,000 voter mark in the South, which easily makes this the largest increase in turnout of any early state, at least in raw numbers," said Nate Cohn of The New York Times.
Increase. In. Turnout.
That's the key to rid our country of the cancer currently in the White House. And on Saturday night, when the Democratic primary race began for the first time to morph into a two-person race, a cure began to seem possible.
Former Vice President Joe Biden won 48.4% of South Carolina's Democratic primary votes, with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders a distant second with just under 20%. Businessman Tom Steyer, who later suspended his presidential campaign, came in third with 11.3%, followed by Pete Buttigieg's 8.2%, Elizabeth Warren's 7.1% and Amy Klobuchar's 3.1%.
Biden's back was against the wall. He needed to show he is electable. On Saturday he did just that. Exit polls in South Carolina showed black voters favored Biden 4 to 1 over Sanders. The same was true with white voters, and Biden held more than two-thirds of primary voters who were age 45 or older — the highest for any Democratic contest so far.
So much for Sanders' promise of "a multiracial coalition."
Veteran Democratic Party campaign consultant James Carville, who crafted the successful presidential campaign of Bill Clinton, told news hosts that Biden is not out of the woods yet, and it's still early. At this point, only about 5% of delegates have been awarded. That will change after Super Tuesday when some 38% will be awarded in 14 states. Buttigieg dropped out of the race Sunday, but Carville also said he expects Klobuchar, like Steyer, to drop out of the race soon. Meanwhile, poll numbers have been dropping for latecomer Micheal Bloomberg, who will be on ballots for the first time Tuesday.
In his victory speech, Biden wasted no time before swinging at Sanders, tacitly criticizing Sanders and his oft-repeated calls for "revolution:"
"This is the moment to choose the path forward for our party," Biden said. "Folks, win big or lose, that's the choice. Most Americans don't want the promise of revolution. They want more than promises. They want results. Talk about revolution ain't changing anyone's life. We need real changes, right now."
Biden clearly was looking to galvanize moderate Democrats and Trump-weary Republicans worried about Sanders' label as a Democratic socialist and his unapologetic demand for upending seemingly all things — all in the name of countering Donald Trump's bigoted, nationalist, wrong-headed bent.
Biden's victory also brought in some much needed money; his campaign's director of online fundraising announced that the campaign had its best hour ever in the "48 minutes" after the race was called.
Meanwhile Bloomberg, a multibillionaire and former New York City mayor, is blanketing Super Tuesday voters — including Tennesseans — with slick TV ads and over-sized mailers.
In Tennessee, he's pushed some interesting buttons, like the environment and gun violence: "Coal Ash Spills, Polluted Rivers, Dangerous Flooding — Trump's policies are killing Tennessee," were the banners on one. On another, a woman is pictured with this quote: "My younger son was killed in a mass shooting in Antioch, Tennessee. That was my darkest day, my darkest night." The woman pictured is Shaundelle Brooks, a gun violence activist from Antioch whose 23-year-old son, Akilah Dasilva, was one of four people killed in the April 22, 2018, Waffle House shooting.
For many here in Tennessee and Georgia, deciding on a Democratic primary candidate has been hard — not because our choices were poor, but because they are and have been so strong.
That said, most of us would vote for SpongeBob over Donald Trump, but that's not the point. The point is to choose the best candidate who also is the best Trump thumper. Finding that person seems now to be down to Biden and Sanders — and maybe Bloomberg — all in their 70s.
Bloomberg, 78, has shown promise with the ideas he touts in his slick ads. Yet between his baggage of past tone-deaf racial and gender comments and policies — along with his onstage clumsiness, SpongeBob may well have more charisma.
Sanders, 78, has some wonderful, aspirational and bold ideas — especially if he can extricate himself from the Democratic socialist corner he keeps painting himself into. We're still waiting for that moment.
Biden, at 77 and with his tongue-tied gaffes — no, maybe especially with his tongue-tied gaffes — instills our trust for heart, hope, determination AND bold ideas — bold ideas not just for fixing our future, but also for healing our country. In a field full of talk about coalitions and the future, Biden seems to have not just the hope, but also the heart, vision and experience to get us there.
Super Tuesday is almost here. Make sure you vote.