Newt Gingrich: 50 hours that changed the 2020 Democratic presidential race

The 50 hours between the South Carolina primary and the end of the Super Tuesday primaries will be studied for a long time.

Going into South Carolina, former Vice President Joe Biden was on the ropes. There was a question of whether he could survive the scale of defeat he was going to face on Super Tuesday.

Sen Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., was clearly the front-runner. The question was whether he could win enough delegates on Super Tuesday to be virtually unstoppable.

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Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., all looked viable. It seemed possible that they could limp along, gathering delegates, and potentially create a brokered convention.

At the same time, there was tremendous speculation about the possible impact of former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s campaign advertising program – the largest in history.

When Biden won a landslide in South Carolina, he suddenly became the hot property.

Even though Biden did not have the money to buy ads like Bloomberg, the sheer volume of earned media coverage of his victory began to give him new momentum.

When Klobuchar announced she was dropping out of the presidential race and endorsing Biden, he got a boost. When she announced that she was actually going to Dallas to campaign with Biden, he got another boost.

Buttigieg was not as elegant and effective as Klobuchar. She put her withdrawal and endorsement of Biden into the same statement. Buttigieg first withdrew and then endorsed Biden. It was only one more positive story for Biden.

Then, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia (also the vice presidential nominee for Hillary Clinton in 2016), and former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (one of the best fundraisers in the Democratic Party and a close ally of the Clintons) also chimed in with endorsements for Biden.

The two days of earned media coverage made it feel like a Biden bandwagon was beginning. (It was: In both reality and in the media.)

On Super Tuesday, the results were stunning.

Klobuchar’s endorsement helped Biden win Minnesota. The Kaine-McAuliffe endorsements helped Biden carry Virginia by a surprising margin.

The strong support of the African-American community – first so visible in South Carolina – carried over to victories in Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama and by a narrow margin in Texas.

In a decisive victory that may lead to another candidate withdrawing, Biden surged in Massachusetts and Warren came in third (Sanders was second). Coming in third in her home state may lead Warren to withdraw (which actually might help Sanders more than Biden).

The biggest humiliation of Super Tuesday was suffered by Bloomberg. President Trump’s description of “Little Mike” or “Mini-Mike” turned out to be accurate. After spending more than an estimated $500 million, Bloomberg only won in American Samoa. He will pick up a few delegates in some states but probably will end up having spent more than $10 million per delegate.

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Bloomberg’s collapse was proof of the old adage that good ads can’t save a bad product. If he had never shown up for the two debates, he almost certainly would have done better. As the worst debater in presidential campaign history, he undid a half-billion dollars in campaign advantage with two disastrous performances. However, Bloomberg helped Biden and damaged Sanders as he endorsed the former vice president when he exited the race.

Given the pattern of the entire establishment (including most of the news media) backing Biden and opposing Sanders, the odds are now incredibly high that Sanders will be isolated as a left-wing radical insurgent whose support will fade as the primaries continue.

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Even if Warren drops out and the race becomes a direct Biden-Sanders contest, it is hard to see how Sanders can get more than 40 percent to 45 percent of the vote.

That would lead to a Biden convention desperately trying to accept enough left-wing policies (and possibly a left-wing vice-presidential candidate) to keep the Sanders forces from rebelling and staying at home – or backing a third-party effort.

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However, before you settle in and assume this future is guaranteed remember that only five days ago the entire Democratic presidential race looked remarkably different.

In this time of turmoil, who knows what is coming next?

To read, hear, and watch more of Newt’s commentary, visit Gingrich360.com.

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