Joe Biden holds a campaign event at the World War I memorial
Former vice president and Democratic candidate for president Joe Biden held a campaign event Saturday at the World War I memorial in Kansas City. Supporters held signs that read “KC 4 JB”. 

On Super Tuesday, voters cast their ballots in 14 presidential primaries.

It was exactly one week before the primary election is scheduled to take place in Missouri.

By Thursday, the race for the Democratic presidential nomination had essentially become a two-man race between candidates Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden.

Biden won the majority of delegates in 10 of the 14 Super Tuesday states. Sanders had clinched three states as of Friday.

Although California’s votes were still being counted, Sanders was leading in that state, which has 415 delegates.

MU political science professor Peverill Squire said endorsements from former candidates Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar helped propel Biden’s success.

Both candidates dropped out in the days leading up to Super Tuesday. Biden also won strong support from black voters, particularly in Southern states.

Still, Squire said the results were not quite what he was expecting.

“I think (the results) were more decisive than most of us would have anticipated,” he said. “Certainly Biden did better in more places and in larger margins than many of us would have expected, and I think it was certainly a tougher night for the candidates who got forced out of the race but also a difficult night for Senator Sanders.”

Representatives from both the Sanders and Biden parties in Columbia said they were feeling optimistic about both national results and local potential in the week between Super Tuesday and the primary election in Missouri.

Biden began the primary election cycle behind Sanders in the first states to vote: Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. Joyce Schulte, a local Biden supporter, said after a bit of a rough start, she was glad to see her preferred candidate doing well.

“I think he’s where he needs to be at the moment,” she said. “I would have preferred he didn’t have to go through all the malarkey to get where he is, but when you finally get to the ice cream, you enjoy it.”

Although Sanders is behind Biden in total number of delegates, Mid-MO for Bernie Sanders super volunteer Michela Skelton said she was also feeling good after Super Tuesday.

“We’re pretty sure with the power of the multi-racial, multi-class and younger voter coalition that’s behind Bernie Sanders that we have the best chance of not only coming up with the majority of delegates before the July convention but actually taking on Trump in November,” she said.

Skelton was also optimistic about Sanders’ performance in Missouri’s primary next week, citing the support he had in the state in the 2016 presidential preference primary. In 2016, candidate Hillary Clinton won the state with less than a 1% margin over Sanders.

“I think Missouri is one of those places that really highlights the lie that Bernie can’t do well in rural areas, that Bernie can’t do well in more conservative areas,” Skelton said, “because if you look at the 2016 results, really the only place that Clinton won is St. Louis city and Kansas City.”

While most of Clinton’s votes came from these big cities, she also won a majority of the counties in the Bootheel.

Skelton’s biggest concern about the Sanders campaign as of Wednesday was candidate Elizabeth Warren.

Warren dropped out of the race Thursday. She has not yet announced an endorsement for Sanders or Biden. Michael Bloomberg, in contrast, dropped out Wednesday and endorsed Biden.

Without Warren splitting the progressive vote, Skelton said she felt Sanders’ chances have grown.

“I think Bernie is going to win Missouri because I think people here in Missouri particularly have learned that lesson the hard way, that trying to go for that conservative Democrat, moderate middle, doesn’t work,” she said.

She cited Claire McCaskill and Chris Koster, who both lost elections to Republicans. McCaskill lost to Josh Hawley in her bid for reelection to the Senate, while Koster lost a bid for governor to Eric Greitens.

Schulte, however, predicted more of a “mixed bag” for Missouri’s votes.

“I think part of Missouri will be smart and go for Biden, and I think part will be less as smart and vote for Bernie and part will sit at home and wait for November to vote for Trump,” she said.

Squire said before Super Tuesday that he believed Bloomberg had the edge in Missouri because of his extensive advertising. After Bloomberg dropped out Wednesday, though, he said he thinks the vote will shift toward Biden.

“My guess is this will probably be ground that’s more favorable to Biden than to Sanders,” he said. “I think the fact that neither of the candidates has really had a major presence in the state will probably suggest that national trends will show up here rather than surprise anybody.”

Squire did say there is no way to know for sure because Missouri has no statewide polling system.

Biden was scheduled to make a campaign appearance in Kansas City on Saturday, while Sanders was planning a visit there Monday.

Skelton said Mid-MO for Bernie Sanders has been attempting to raise support for the Vermont senator for about two weeks, since its Columbia office opened. The group’s efforts in Columbia have included phone banks and canvasing, with volunteers knocking on hundreds of doors each day.

Biden supporters in Columbia have been taking a more long-term approach, Schulte said. While they haven’t decided on any plans to campaign in the area, their biggest priority is keeping people interested in Biden in the coming months.

“There’s an almost constant need to keep names and ideas in front of people,” she said, mentioning a loss of interest in Warren and Klobuchar that ended in both withdrawing.

The candidates who are still in the running and will appear on Missouri’s Democratic ballot Tuesday are Sanders, Biden, Tulsi Gabbard, Steve Burke, Roque De La Fuente, Bill Haas, Henry Hewes, Leonard J. Steinman II, Velma Steinman and Robby Wells. All candidates who have dropped out will also appear on the ballot but will be ineligible to receive delegates.

  • Public life reporter, spring 2020. Studying print and digital news journalism. Reach me at skylarlaird@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5720

  • I've been a reporter and editor at Missouri community newspapers for 35 years and joined the Columbia Missourian in 2003. My emphasis at the Missourian is on local government and elections. You can reach me at swaffords@missouri.edu or at 573-884-5366.

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