Despite suffering another round of defeats in multiple primary voting states on Tuesday to former Vice President Joe Biden, supporters of Bernie Sanders' 2020 presidential run are not about to give up the fight just yet and political observers are noting that even if the delegate lead Biden has amassed ultimately proves insurmountable the Democratic Party will have to win over voters inspired by Sanders if President Donald Trump is to be vanquished in the general election.
"This is a very dangerous moment for the Democratic Party," said CNN contributor Van Jones as the results from contests in six states—Mississippi, North Dakota, Missouri, Michigan, Idaho, and Washington—were reported. With Sanders' especially high hopes for Michigan dashed by a substantial margin of victory by Biden, Jones said, "You have an insurgency about to be defeated. What do you do with the people that you defeat?"
The fact that "a lot of young people" believed "they had a champion" in Sanders, argued Jones, is not something that Democrats should ignore. "Young people who are graduating with a quarter million dollars in debt, young people with a lot of pain, and they had a champion," he said. "And they thought they were going to be able to surround the divided establishment with their movement, crush that divided establishment, and move forward. Instead, the establishment united and stopped them. Now what do you do?"
When Sanders was defeated in the 2016 primary, Jones continued, "there was an assumption that all his people were going to fall in line and vote against Trump and there was not enough care for the concern and the pain of his base. Tonight, there's going to be a lot of crowing, a lot of relief on the part of the establishment, but keep it temperate and turn—turn to those [Sanders supporters] and say we want to be your champion. If you don't do that, you're going to have a pyrrhic victory."
This is a very dangerous moment for the Democratic party. You have an insurgency about to be defeated. What do you do with the people you defeat? A lot of young people are going to be crushed. We need to turn to them and say, "We want to be your champion." #CNN #SuperTuesday2 pic.twitter.com/Hg4dJBPOaA
— Van Jones (@VanJones68) March 11, 2020
It was a similar sentiment shared by filmmaker Michael Moore, who appeared on MSNBC and said Democrats and the corporate establishment will be in big trouble if they don't account for the hopes and aspirations of those Americans at the heart of the Sanders movement:
Michael Moore with some of the deepest things said on MSNBC in years. pic.twitter.com/dCnr8dcuSV
— Andrew Jerell Jones (@sluggahjells) March 11, 2020
"The game isn't over," Moore said. "All the other states who haven't had chance to have their say, should have their say. Bernie, when he says "Not me, us,"—if you met him, that's really where his head's at. His idea was not just himself going into the Oval Office, but bringing millions with him. I think that his policies and the things that he stands for, we would hope to see happen if we do get rid of Trump—and none of us are giving up on that."
Especially concerning when it comes to Biden's general election prospects remains his continued poor performance with young voters—among the reasons that progressives continue to warn that the Democrats may be setting themselves up for another loss to Trump in a general election if they fail to energize key portions of their base:
This is scary. Young people are the base of the Dem Party. Obama won 66% of the youth vote in 2008 & 60% in 2012. Hillary (who got crushed by Bernie among 18-29 yr olds) only got 55% against Trump. And Biden is on track to do even worse. pic.twitter.com/mCjI0L2L99
— 29 U.S.C. § 157 (@OrganizingPower) March 11, 2020
Not bowing to the idea that Sanders' primary prospects are over, his supporters and campaign staff dismissed those treating his disappointing night—losing in Mississippi, Missouri, Michigan, and Idaho—as the end of the line. For people like Nina Turner, national co-chair of the Sanders campaign, the Democratic primary season still has a long way to go:
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— Nina Turner (@ninaturner) March 11, 2020
As 'Organizing for Bernie' tweeted:
We aren't even half way there yet! #SuperTuesday2
1,991 needed to win nomination
Joe Biden 749
Bernie Sanders 607
— Organizers for Bernie 2020 (@OFB2020) March 11, 2020
"Fewer than half the states will have voted after tonight is all said and done," said progressive writer and activist Ben Spielberg. "I understand why you're disappointed—I am, too—but this primary is not even close to over. Do not despair. Do think hard about what next steps we need to take."
Briahna Joy Gray, Sanders' national press secretary, made it clear she is gearing up for Sunday's one-on-one debate between the two candidates:
I, for one, am extremely excited about this debate all the moderates are panicking about.
The delegate count difference is only about 150 points out of 4051 total.
— Briahna Joy Gray (@briebriejoy) March 11, 2020
While both Biden and Sanders were asked to cancel large rallies they had scheduled for Tuesday night in Ohio due to the coronavirus crisis gripping the nation, Biden made comments from Philadelphia, where he made overtures to Sanders and his supporters.
"I want to thank Bernie Sanders and his supporters for their tireless energy and their passion," Biden said to a small room filled only with staff and a some reporters at the National Constitution Center. "We share a common goal, and together, we'll defeat Donald Trump."
Sanders, meanwhile, returned to his home in Vermont Tuesday evening and did not deliver any public remarks.