New York, March 4 (IANS) In a dramatic turnaround powered by rivals turned allies, former US Vice President Joe Biden has regained his place as the Democratic Party’s front-runner to challenge President Donald Trump in the November election and slowed the party’s left-ward lurch for now.
Biden has won in nine of the 14 states where party polls were held on Tuesday and leading in one, putting a brake on the momentum of the self-declared democratic socialist Senator Bernie Sanders, who has won only four and conceding some where he led in opinion polls last week.
The intra-party polls have now sharpened on ideological lines pitting Biden consolidating a big chunk of the moderate votes against Sanders, who represents the left.
Sanders’s setback reflects the introspection within the party whether a socialist can defeat Trump resulting in more Democrats feeling the need to move the party towards the centre with an eye on the moderates in the general election.
Sanders appeals to younger voters with his radical ideas for free college tuition, government-run healthcare for all, cutbacks to the military spending and a national minimum wage of $15 per hour.
Biden has said that the nation does not need a revolution and that he offers a movement to reclaim the soul of America.
Biden did best in the southern states where the party is dominated by African Americans who form the steadfast base of the Democratic Party and cherish the legacy of former President Barack Obama with whom Biden served.
After languishing in three of the first three polls, Biden proved his electoral viability on Saturday winning about half the votes in South Carolina and in fast-moving developments his fellow-moderate rivals Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg dropped out of the race to back him.
Biden has also emerged the leader with 27.3 per cent support to 26.7 per cent for Sanders in the latest national opinion polls of Democrats aggregated by RealClear Politics, a reversal from last week when Sanders was ahead by six per cent.
The Democratic Party polls are to select the 3,979 delegates committed to different candidates who will then formally elect the party’s nominee at its national convention in July.
Polls have to be held in 32 more states stretching into June and 14 states that went to the polls on ‘Super Tuesday’ were the biggest batch accounting for about a third of the delegates and give a clearer picture of the race.
Although Sanders lost in the large states Virginia and Texas, where he had led in opinion polls, he won in California, the biggest state with the most delegates.
Multi-billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg, who is right of centre, and Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is ideologically closer to Sanders, fared badly and their continuance is now in question.
Bloomberg, who is the former mayor of New York and owns the news and financial information service carrying his name, won only in the US territory of Samoa after having spent an estimated $400 million of his own money on campaign.
He entered the race with the aim of stopping Sanders when Biden seemed to be lagging and there was no clear moderate leader in the race late and wasn’t on the ballots in the first four states. With Biden now re-emerging, he may reconsider his candidacy.
Warren lost even her home state of Massachusetts to Biden.
(Arul Louis can be contacted at [email protected])