By Erick Johnson
The momentum toward the Democratic nomination for president has dramatically slowed for candidate Bernie Sanders. The Vermont senator lost his front runner status as opponent Joe Biden gained 380 delegates from 14 states that held their Democratic primary on March 3, Super Tuesday.
On March 17, Illinois will be among five delegate-rich states for Super Tuesday II, when Florida, Ohio, Arizona and Georgia will also hold their primaries.
The race for the Democratic nomination will once again go through Chicago and Cook County, where there are some 3 million voters.
In 2016 Sanders won 25 wards in Chicago and 14 suburban townships against Hillary Clinton, according to election data the Crusader pulled from the Chicago Board of Elections and Cook County Office of Elections. None of the wards in Chicago were Black.
Those results may foreshadow a 2020 Democratic primary race that may produce the same results as the 2016 race, where Clinton and Sanders split Chicago’s 50 wards in a heated battle for Illinois’ 155 delegates.
In states across the country, Sanders put up the same numbers he produced in 2016, but his inability to appeal to Black voters once again has cost him a chunk of delegates in many states that supported Biden.
Among Clinton’s 25 wards were 19 predominately Black wards that put her over the top of her Democratic rival. Blacks who supported Clinton that year, are supporting Biden. With deep ties to Chicago’s Barack Obama, Black voters likely will cast their ballots for Biden. Progressive white voters in wards on the North Side may vote again for Sanders.
In the Windy City, the battle of Biden vs. Sanders may also be a showdown between the powerful Black electorate vs the Latino and white electorate.
The latter two voting groups supported Sanders in 2016 and in most states on Super Tuesday. If the trends continue, in Chicago on March 17, Sanders could win Chicago and the majority of 155 delegates in Illinois.
Will Obama save his former vice president the way Blacks in South Carolina saved Biden’s campaign from defeat?
In many Black wards in 2016, Clinton crushed Sanders, grabbing twice as many votes. In the 34th Ward, Clinton won 69 percent of the vote while Sanders took only 30 percent of the Black vote. In the 21st Ward, Clinton grabbed 68 percent of the vote to Sanders’ 31 percent.
The Black wards where Sanders grabbed the highest percentage of votes were the 5th Ward, which includes white progressive voters in Hyde Park. In that ward, Sanders took more than 43 percent of the vote. In the 4th Ward, which also covers parts of Hyde Park, Sanders had the second highest performance, with 42 percent of the vote.
Sanders won all the Latino wards. He scored the highest percentage in the 35th Ward, which includes Albany Park, Irving Park, Avondale, Logan Square and Hermosa. There, Sanders took 61 percent of the vote.
Among the predominately white wards, Sanders scored the highest percentage in the 47th ward, which includes North Center, Roscoe Village, Lincoln Square and Uptown. Sanders won 56 percent of the vote in that ward.
If 2016 repeats itself, the Democratic race in Chicago will have Biden winning 25 wards to Sanders’ 25 wards, leaving the race to be decided by Chicago’s outlying suburbs.
In 2016, Clinton took 16 Cook County suburban townships to Sanders’ 14. With far fewer Black voters in the outlying suburbs, it’s uncertain whether Biden can have the same success as Clinton, whose birthplace in Park Ridge strengthened her appeal to voters.