Takeaways on Biden’s Big Win

Photo credit: Richmond Times-Dispatch

By Peter Galuszka

Joe Biden prevailed in the Virginia Democratic primary Tuesday, showing that the state’s movement to the political left can go only so far.

The former vice president got 53% of the vote with Sen. Bernie Sanders snaring 23%,and Elizabeth Warren and Mike Bloomberg far behind. Nationally, Biden’s remarkable comeback on Super Tuesday has made him the leading Democrat, although Sanders isn’t gone yet. Here are some takeaways:

  • Political analysts in the state such as Steve Farnsworth, a professor at the University of Mary Washington, have said that while changing demographics have made the state bluer, it is far from California. The analysts are right, despite what a number of conservatives claim.
  • The turnout was large. That’s significant because if it is likewise large in November, it’s bad news for Donald Trump.
  • A number of state Democrats supported Biden at the last minute, worried that Sanders would be a giveaway to Trump.
  • Democratic leaders know that they must hold on to the gains they made in 2018 and 2019. Two key bellwethers are U.S. Reps. Abigail Spanberger of the 7th District and Elaine Luria of the 2nd District, who defeated prominent Republicans in 2018. If either of those two loses in November, it would be a big symbolic blow to moderate Democrats.
  • Both women have to appear to be moderate and a Sanders’ victory will not help them. I interview Spanberger in the summer of 2018 along with her primary opponent Dan Ward for at article in Style Weekly. Ward was unafraid of coming down hard on assault rifles while Spanberger, apparently worried that being too progressive would cost her, was less aggressive on the issue. She ended up supporting Biden only after polls closed Tuesday, media reports say.

My personal take is that Biden is less than ideal but he’d be a lot better than the current president. I was open to Bernie until I read a WaPo story last year about how he spent his honeymoon in the Soviet Union in 1988 when he was the socialist mayor of Burlington VT.

Sanders came back from his trip praising the Communist government for its strides in health care and housing, noting that the U.S. had had too many incursions into other countries.

That view struck me as terribly naïve. In 1988, I had been working as a correspondent in Moscow for two years. I actually knew a lot of ordinary Russians and had been to their apartments and, a couple times, had made hospital visits. That gave me a realistic insight into the actual lives people led.

I had among my circle of friends a few guys who had fought in Afghanistan and they despised the war not knowing why they were there. The place was so dysfunctional that on “Paratroopers Day,” former airborne troops with Afghanistan experience who would get dressed in cammies with their sky blue berets. They’d get roaring drunk and go into open food markets beat up (or kill) dark skinned Chechens or Georgians selling fresh food..

The cops did next to nothing but they were a big presence for me. It was still the Cold War and I had to deal with the KGB. I needed permission to go anywhere 40 kilometers from the center of Moscow. I’d get it but I still would get pulled over regularly by police to check my documents.

That was the Soviet Union I knew.

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4 responses to “Takeaways on Biden’s Big Win

  1. Thanks, Peter, for these insights. It is good to hear about the reality from someone who was on the ground.

  2. ‘Naive’ sounds like the right word for Bernie back then and I would guess that it still has a bit of relevance. If he was politically adept he would have turned his “Medicare for All into the Medicare for All Who Want It” that the other Dems landed on. I guess he has been a warrior for so long that he has forgotten that leadership is a bit different.

    I too remember the horror stories of life in the Soviet Union after WWII. Funny how all Bernie saw was what he is still fighting for. Gotta give him credit for changing the conversation though.

  3. The Elephant in the Room is AOC. Democrats know they will not only lose the election with Bernie, they will have also lost forever the whole damn Democratic Party, and all its lists, infrastructure and secrets, turned over to AOC. They would rather Trump win the election than Bernie win it. Hence they’ll do anything to keep Bernie out, including losing election for president with Uncle Joe running in 2020.

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