By Othor Cain,
Don’t call it a comeback, call it the Biden affect. Instead of the word momentum, how-about Jo-mentum?
The South Carolina primary was the first major test of the candidates’ appeal among black voters. It was here Joe Biden, the former vice president of the United States, under President Barack Obama, scored a thundering victory on the strength of African-American support, a decisive win that forced moderate rivals out of the race and halted the progressive front runner at the time, Bernie Sanders.
Biden’s win in South Carolina came at a crucial moment in his 2020 bid as he needed a major rebound after underwhelming performances in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.
Then Biden’s strong performance in states that engaged in Super Tuesday voting last week, suddenly transformed the Democratic Party’s presidential field into a two-man contest.
Biden’s campaign is embracing his renewed status as the Democratic front runner and it was on full display in Mississippi, Sunday at Tougaloo College.
“Joe is the person you might be meeting at lunch at Pearl’s Restaurant on Terry Road, the person you might meet at Bully’s Restaurant on Livingston Road,” Congressman Bennie Thompson, Mississippi’s only Democrat in Washington, said at a rally Sunday. “We’re here today to put the marker down that this country is about to change. If you’ve had the three years like all of us have had, it’s absolutely our time to change it…we’re going to come together Tuesday and speak with one voice as Democrats. And one person that can unite Democrats in this country is Joe Biden.”
Thompson’s rhythm, cadence, hand gestures and eye contact with the audience, were reminiscent of an effective Sunday morning call and response service that you would find at most baptist churches.
“The notion that he would dare to come to Mississippi, the notion that he would even think of coming to Tougaloo College, the notion that he could bring black and white Mississippians together,” Thompson said. “He’s the kind of person we all want as president.”
The audience and Mississippi agreed.
Tuesday, Mississippi Democrats delivered Biden a very decisive victory. In unofficial returns, Biden received 218,538 votes or 81 percent. The state rejected, for the second time, Bernie Sanders. Sanders received a little under 40 thousand votes Tuesday. In 2016 Mississippi Democrats gave Sanders even fewer votes. He received a little less than 37 thousand votes then.
Mike Espy, who is running for the United States Senate, captured his party’s nomination Tuesday with a sizable defeat of two challengers, was excited to see Biden’s rise to the top.
“I feel really good with Joe Biden being at the top of the ticket in Mississippi,” Espy said to a cheering crowd at a watch party that quickly turned into a victory party. “I know Joe, I know him to be a man of competence and integrity.”
Biden’s team helped to relaunch a new found energy among Mississippi Democrats; an energy that was created by Espy’s campaign in 2018 but somehow was lost last year during the gubernatorial campaign. Espy knows that if he is to be successful this time around he will need an overwhelmingly majority of black support.
Biden is the only candidate that has delivered African-American voters this election cycle.