This comeback story starts in Charleston, S.C., hours before the last Democratic debate. In a room, surrounded by family members, state-level politicos and some Democratic stalwarts, House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C, a senior American statesman, weighed in on the Democratic primary contest before South Carolina voters, a significant number of whom were African-American, headed to the polls.
Based on last night's election returns, it is clear that Clyburn's decision was probably the most crucial move made in this Democratic primary contest. His endorsement of former Vice President Joe Biden was a hard reset and a launching pad for Biden's victories across the country this past Tuesday.
Biden seems to be winning in every corner of the Democratic Party. Based on exit polls and canvass returns, the former vice president is winning among African-Americans of all ages. He is very popular with college-educated voters, women, young people and the working class.
Without many campaign resources – no field offices, significant ad buy or much money in the ban – Biden has had quite an impressive Super Tuesday. He is 2020's comeback kid, and for good reason.
Not only has he picked up more than 300 convention delegates, but he also secured victories in Alabama, Arkansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. These primary wins come with the endorsements of former presidential candidates: Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, and billionaire-turned-activist former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg – who was walloped on Super Tuesday after spending $500 million of his fortune.
The resurrection of Biden is something that political scientists will be writing about for the next couple of decades. But let's be real: this resurrection was and continues to be fueled by black voters. African-Americans, young and old, see Biden as the best chance the Democrats have of beating Donald Trump in November. This belief has spurred party excitement all across the country and resulted in record voter turnout.
Take the Commonwealth of Virginia, for example, with more than 1.3 million votes cast last night – almost double the roughly 780,000 votes reported in the state's 2016 primary contest. And Virginia isn't alone. Based on current tallies, voter turnout is up in every Democratic primary.
Now before the excitement forces some in the party to throw a party, let's face the reality that Biden's resurrection and the possible political revolution should come with a side of humble pie. As Clyburn put it, "We (team Biden) need to do retooling in the campaign, no question about that."
The congressman is right. Now more than ever, the Biden campaign needs to reassess its messaging. Instead of focusing on beating Trump, the vice president needs bold policy solutions and messaging about the issues that have captivated the Democratic base. Right now, things just aren't adding up, which probably means that you are subtracting.
Democrats want to win this election. To make that a reality, they must have a candidate who can speak to the hopes and aspirations of the people living in this country, while addressing the harsh realities of the Trump presidency. Donald Trump has done little to nothing to help the plight of student loan borrowers or those looking for affordable healthcare. For Biden to win this nomination and continue on his winning streak, he must develop and articulate a memorable message and clear policy solutions that will excite everyday people.
For example, with many Americans drowning in student loan debt, the Biden campaign must have a clear and unifying message and policy around the issue. I'm not prescribing that he picks up the "forgive student loan debt" mantra, but his campaign must reintroduce a solution that will compel student loan debt holders to breathe a sigh of relief. Black, brown and white college-educated voters alike see the student loan debt crisis as an existential threat to their participation in the American economy. They all want a candidate who will be on their side.
Biden can and should be their choice.
With millions of more voters left to cast their ballots and a couple more debates on the horizon, could there be a political revolution brewing on Biden's side? If that is the case, will this momentum take his campaign to new heights? These questions have yet to be answered, but thanks to Clyburn and millions of voters, the Biden campaign has reclaimed its front-runner status.
Now is the time for the Biden campaign to take these wins to the bank, revamp and come out loud and healthy in the next phase of this primary with a clear, concise and coherent message that speaks to the hopes of voters and the sad realities of the Trump presidency.