In the week between Super Tuesday and the coming Super Tuesday II, the Democrats have flipped the script: Joe Biden is again the front-runner and Bernie Sanders is back in his familiar role as the feisty underdog.
“Right now Joe Biden is in the catbird seat, period,” GOP strategist Evan Siegfried told The Post. “He is ahead of where Hillary Clinton was after Super Tuesday in 2016 — and at this point in 2016, Hillary was 6 points up.”
The resurrected Biden, speaking to a jubilant crowd of 1,500 in St. Louis Saturday, said, “What a difference a week makes!”
After the 2020 field consolidated in last week’s Super Tuesday primaries into a two-man race between the former vice president and the Vermont senator, both campaigns are eyeing a trove of delegates this Tuesday from Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Washington.
The ex-veep’s campaign is boasting of a huge $22 million fund-raising haul in the giddy wake of his monster South Carolina victory last weekend and his Super Tuesday romp that followed, when he picked up a total of 649 delegates — and took a comfortable lead in the Dems’ presidential sweepstakes.
He has thrown $12 million of that cash into a six-state ad buy in three of the states that vote this Tuesday, along with delegate-rich Florida, Illinois and Ohio, where Democrats head to the polls on March 17.
But Michigan, with 125 pledged delegates up for grabs, is Tuesday’s top prize.
“It’s a critical state,” progressive activist Jordan Uhl told The Post. “Michigan is a working-class stronghold. It’s also a swing state. This can prove electability … It’s a better metric of how a candidate might perform in the general [election].”
Sanders has made that same argument ever since his Super Tuesday wipeout, when he managed to win just four of the day’s 15 contests.
At rallies and in ads, he has slammed Biden for his past support the NAFTA trade deal and Social Security restrictions — stances that are unpopular in the nation’s blue-collar strongholds like Michigan.
“If we are going to defeat Trump in Michigan, in Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, it will be very hard for a candidate who voted for these disastrous trade agreements,” Sanders said at a Friday night rally in Detroit that drew 6,000 Bernie Bros.
Sanders canceled a rally in Mississippi last week, conceding Biden’s dominance among southern black voters, to focus instead on the Wolverine State.
The Michigan polls, however, have been forbidding. The latest survey found Biden leading Sanders by 6.7%.
For Sanders and his passionate army, Michigan carries heavy emotional weight. In 2016, Sanders overcame Hillary Clinton’s double-digit polling lead there for a surprise primary victory that renewed his campaign’s momentum after he took a drubbing in that year’s Super Tuesday contests.
But Trump went on to squeak by Clinton that November, winning Michigan by less than one-quarter of 1 percent.
On Saturday Sanders headed to Chicago, where he rallied 15,000 fans with a harsh takedown of Biden’s Senate votes in favor of Bush administration efforts like the Iraq War and the 2008 Wall Street bailout.
But Biden has refused to take Sanders’s bait.
“Negative attacks will only reelect Trump if we go that route,” he said at Saturday’s rally in St. Louis.
Biden is expected to win the bulk of the Show-Me State’s 68 delegates in the contest between the two septuagenarian candidates, with one Friday poll showing him 22 points ahead.
The Democratic Socialist Sanders is pinning additional hopes on the race in Washington state and its 89 delegates. Sanders beat Clinton there by 46 points in 2016.
But that year, Washington awarded its delegates via caucuses — a lengthy process that rewards the candidate with the most committed and passionate supporters.
For 2020, the state has switched to a primary system with mail-in balloting, a much less time-consuming prospect that could steeply reduce the Sanders advantage.
Meanwhile, Team Biden is aiming for a kill shot after his impressive Super Tuesday performance.
“It’s about results and not revolution,” a Biden aide told The Post. “We are incredibly confident Joe Biden is going to perform well on Tuesday.”
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