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#Joementum: How did Joe Biden just do that?

2020 election vote
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There were concerns that Democratic voters weren’t energized by their choices for president.

And then Super Tuesday happened.

I noticed something that surprised me when I was combing through the numbers from the Democratic primary in Virginia last night: turnout was way, way up from 2016.

And even from 2008, which is significant, because that was the Obama-Clinton year, two of the better organized political operations in modern history going head to head.

There were 986,203 votes cast in the 2008 Virginia Democratic presidential primary.

In 2016, Clinton vs. Sanders at the top of the ticket, there were 785,190 votes cast in the Virginia primary.

Yesterday: try 1,310,623.

That’s a 66.9 percent bump from 2016, and even 32.9 percent up from 2008.

And this wasn’t a just Virginia thing.

I looked at numbers from other Super Tuesday states, and there’s a trend.

Raw Numbers

  • Texas: 2,048,728 votes yesterday, up from the 1,435,895 votes in 2016, a 42.7 percent increase.
  • Massachusetts: 1,327,374 votes yesterday, up from 1,220,296 in 2016, an 8.7 percent increase.
  • North Carolina: 1,322,443 votes yesterday, up from 1,142,916 in 2016, a 15.7 percent increase.
  • Colorado: 755,274 votes yesterday, up from 123,508 in 2016. Wow.
  • Minnesota: 745,072 votes yesterday, up from 204,610 in 2016. Another wow.
  • Tennessee: 487,680 votes yesterday, up from 372,222 in 2016, a 31.0 percent increase.
  • Alabama: 453,763 votes yesterday, up from 398,157 in 2016, a 14.0 percent increase.
  • Arkansas: 228,483 votes yesterday, up from 221,020 in 2016, a 3.4 percent increase.
  • Vermont: 157,815 votes yesterday, up from 135,236 in 2016, a 16.7 percent increase.

One state was down from 2016: Oklahoma, which had 335,843 votes cast in its 2016 primary, and was at 303,977 yesterday.


  • Utah and Maine switched from caucuses to primaries, so naturally numbers would be way up in terms of turnout.
  • California is still counting, but as of this writing (10:30 a.m. Eastern Wednesday), the count was just under 3 million votes cast, with 87 percent of precincts reporting, which would suggest we’d end up seeing a lower turnout than in 2016, when there were 5,173,338 votes cast in that year’s Democratic primary in California. Possible reason for that: the 2016 California primary was in June, and the Clinton-Sanders race was still undecided in June, which could have spiked interest.

What are we seeing?

There’s energy. Democrats are voting. And this is happening as what had not that long ago been a 20+-candidate race has winnowed down to two: Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden.

The Sanders operation, after getting outmaneuvered by the more mature Clinton campaign in 2016, has matured itself, and is as well-oiled an outfit as you will see.

The Biden operation is more like the Donald Trump campaign from 2016, in terms of its organizational disarray.

The Biden campaign, like Trump in 2016, did well yesterday almost in spite of itself. To wit, in Virginia, which Biden won with 53.3 percent of the vote, 705,704 raw votes, which, your eyes are already twitching back up the text here, to look at the total number of votes cast in the Virginia primary, and it was 785,190.

The question to be asked here: how in blue whatever did he do what he did here yesterday without having a single field office in the Commonwealth, without running a single TV ad?

The Sanders side is spinning that it’s the Democratic establishment fighting back, but we’re not talking super-delegates here.

We’re talking, you know, actual vote numbers.

Sanders only marginally improved his standing in Virginia from 2016 to 2020: he received 276,387 votes in 2016, and 305,916 yesterday.

And when you look at other Super Tuesday states, another trend emerges.

Sanders Raw Votes

  • Alabama: 75,326 in 2020, 76,399 in 2016
  • Arkansas: 51,117 in 2020, 66,236 in 2016
  • Colorado: 273,044 in 2020, 72,846 in 2016
  • Massachusetts: 336,187 in 2020, 589,803 in 2016
  • Minnesota: 222,527 in 2020, 126,229 in 2016
  • North Carolina: 318,872 in 2020, 467,018 in 2016
  • Oklahoma: 77,302 in 2020, 174,228 in 2016
  • Tennessee: 120,636 in 2020, 120,800 in 2016
  • Texas: 585,036 in 2020, 476,547 in 2016
  • Vermont: 79,080 in 2020, 115,900 in 2016

The Trend

Sanders got more raw votes in 2020 in four states: Colorado, Minnesota, Texas and Virginia.

He only won in one of those states, Colorado, and his percentage of the vote there yesterday (36.2 percent) was down significantly from 2016 (59.0 percent).

In the other seven states, his raw vote numbers were down, as overall turnout was up.

The Sanders spin about his side bringing the energy to the Democratic cause doesn’t pan out when you dive into the numbers.

Overall voter turnout in the primaries is up across the board, and the Sanders numbers are basically flat.

With the breaking news as I get ready to hit the publish button that Mike Bloomberg is dropping out of the race and endorsing Biden, the writing is on the wall.

Story by Chris Graham