A couple of weeks are a lifetime in politics, as circumstances can change rapidly. The race for the Democratic nomination for president has taken a remarkably new look after the voting on “Super Tuesday” this past week.
Joe Biden, the former Vice President of the United States, is back on top, to the surprise of many, including this writer. Biden won ten of the 14 states with primaries last Tuesday, while Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders won only four states. The former VP’s dismal showing last month in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two contests of the campaign, are a political lifetime in the past.
The issue that remains the same is climate change.
It is dogma in the Democratic Party that man-made activity is overheating the planet in a matter of years or decades, depending on who is making the claims. To address this stated climate trend, politicians have proposed various versions of a “Green New Deal” designed to reduce carbon emissions by phasing out fossil fuel use in the United States.
Sen. Sanders often speaks of the Earth itself facing an “existential threat” in the near term. Mr. Biden admitted that his climate policies would lead to blue collar workers in the energy industry losing their jobs.
As a matter of climate policy, the race for who becomes the Democratic nominee for president may not matter much. Nonetheless, the track records on issues between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders could determine the degree to which climate polices are implemented over time, should one of them become president.
Michael Bloomberg, the multi-billionaire former Mayor of New York City, spent a half billion dollars of his fortune on his campaign that resulted in winning a single primary in American Samoa, a U.S. territory, which also voted on Super Tuesday. Among the 14 states that voted, Bloomberg never finished better than third place.
Money may be the mother’s milk of politics, but it alone does not guarantee victory. Bloomberg’s abysmal showing led him to formally drop out of the race fewer than 24 hours after the polls closed on Tuesday. He then endorsed Joe Biden for president.
I expected Bloomberg would do much better on Super Tuesday than he did. Had he done well and continued his campaign, but end up losing the Democratic nomination to Sanders, I thought it a real possibility he would run a third party candidacy for president. Instead, he made a colossal waste of $500 million-plus, though it barely put a dent in his overall wealth. Never has one spent so much to achieve so little – or nothing.
Mr. Bloomberg was a very capable mayor of New York City for 12 years. He now joins many other successful senators and governors before him from both political parties who made lousy presidential candidates.
As for Senator Elizabeth Warren, her losing streak in presidential voting from the start in Iowa continued on Super Tuesday, including an embarrassing third place finish in her home state of Massachusetts. It is hard to see how Sen. Warren can continue her campaign, and quitting the race may accrue to the benefit of Sen. Sanders, just as Biden benefitted from other candidates dropping out. [Postscript: Several hours after this CFACT post, Sen. Warren announced she was ending her presidential campaign.]
It is now a two-person race for the Democratic nomination for president: Bernie Sanders versus Joe Biden. Biden has overtaken Bernie as the front-runner with a modest lead in pledged delegates to secure the nomination. Still, there are many more states that will hold primaries in the coming months since 60 percent of the delegates remain up for grabs.
It is tempting to predict Mr. Biden will be the Democratic nominee to face off against President Donald Trump in November. But no one really knows for certain at this point. In just the last week and a half, since the voting in Nevada, so much as changed, and it could change again.
What remains is that climate policies are largely consistent among leading Democratic political figures, regardless of whom the Party nominates for president. That means the people will decide in November which direction the nation takes in addressing climate change, man-made, natural, or otherwise.