House Democrats shared high-fives and breathed a collective sigh of relief as the primary results rolled in Tuesday night, celebrating something that, a week ago, had barely seemed possible: former Vice President Joe Biden was defeating Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in most Super Tuesday contests.
HuffPo reports that Democrats, particularly those facing rough re-election campaigns in states that President Donald Trump won in 2016, were overjoyed at the news that Sanders might not be at the top of the 2020 Democratic presidential ticket.
“After Joe Biden’s big night on Super Tuesday ― and Sen. Bernie Sanders’ less-than-expected performance in the multiple Democratic presidential primaries ― some House Democrats were high-fiving each other Wednesday. Literally,” the outlet reported Thursday, after speaking to a number of Democrats who watched the results together.
People were very happy,” Rep Juan Vargas (D-CA) said. “There was a huge sigh of relief.”
The party, Vargas added, had “come to our senses, you know? We’re not going to implode. We were all high-fiving. We’re all happy. Everyone’s excited today. It was a good night last night,”
“Thank God it’s not Bernie,” Vargas went on. “We just dodged a bullet ― a Bernie bullet.”
Others shared Vargas’ enthusiasm. One House Democrat, who spoke to HuffPo on condition of anonymity for fear he or she would face blowback from progressive colelagues, told the outlet that vulnerable House Dems had a “little bounce in our step” on Wednesday, while they savored Bernie’s undeniable defeat.
“We went into last night thinking it was gonna be a tough night, and came out on cloud nine,” the anonymous Democrat added.
Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), who experts agree played a critical role in resuscitating the floundering Biden campaign with a well-timed endorsement in South Carolina that helped turn out the African-American vote for the former Vice President, was particularly effusive. The Democrats delivered, he said, “an old-fashioned beat down to the hard left.”
That vulnerable Democrats would share some barely contained glee is hardly surprising. As Bernie Sanders pulled into the lead nationally, and jumped out ahead in polls, Democrats who don’t share Sanders’ commitment to socialist policies became nervous about sharing a ticket with the far-left Vermont senator. Democratic strategists predicted that Dems could lose between 25 and 50 seats in Congress over a Sanders nomination.
After Sanders posted an astounding two-to-one victory in the Nevada caucuses, “moderate” Democrats found themselves in a near-panic, plotting how to run both with and against the possible 2020 Democratic presidential nominee. Republicans, savoring the moment, plotted a possible “blue state takeover,” pledging millions to an effort to “turn” voters in suburban Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., who simply couldn’t cast a ballot for Sanders.
The Democratic primary, though, is far from over. Sanders is notoriously stubborn and could stay in the race past Florida — a contest he could lose by more than 40 points, and may retain his delegates, forcing Democrats to contend with a brokered Democratic National Convention, if Biden fails to win a majority of the available delegates before July. That may even be why 2020 Democratic presidential candidates who’ve dropped out of the race are retaining their delegates — with two thirds of the primary contests yet to happen, there are plenty of possibilities.