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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

COMMENTARY: Vibes from a Dallas Bernie Campaign Watch Party

Photo credit: Scott Peters

By Scott Peters

After Joe Biden sowed the union of the moderate Democratic party, he reaped the disappointment of progressives last night across the country- and especially at a bar in Oak Lawn.

The Bernie Sanders campaign dedicated weeks to grassroots campaigning in Dallas county with campaign offices, pop-up volunteer campaign houses, and enthusiastic canvassing. They wrapped up their efforts with a campaign watch party at Alexandre’s Bar in Oak Lawn.

I arrived at 7:05, just after the official start of the event. But before I describe my observations, note two important takeaways from the night:

  1. Biden’s Comeback: Biden’s prospects of securing the nomination had seriously faded after poor showings in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. However, the uniting of the moderate wing of the party behind Biden has made him the predicted front runner. While it is an undeniably impressive win, Biden’s victory feels given rather than earned.
  2. Warren’s Disruption: Warren’s decision to stay in the race cost the progressive wing of the party the lead they had only two days ago. Warren’s continued presence may spell the end for both her and Sanders.

7:05: I arrive as early voting reports roll in from the evening. Virginia had already went to Biden and Vermont to Sanders. As I settle in, I get to meet a few people, including a young woman from Brazil who was in Dallas visiting her sister.

“There’s nothing like this in Brazil,” she said while we discussed American and Brazilian politics.

Overall, the crowd consists of young, college-educated Millennials. Many attendees said the 2008 recession and the resulting Occupy Wall Street protest were formative events in their support for Sanders.

They are also diverse: There is no racial majority, and men and women show up in relatively equal numbers. A significant number of attendees are also visibly part of the LGBT+ community.

8:07: The crowd jokingly chants “Tulsi! Tulsi! Tulsi!” as Tulsi Gabbard gains a delegate from American Samoa. After interviewing some chanters, many say that they find Gabbard’s determination to stay in the campaign amusing. Others point out that Gabbard winning a delegate means she may qualify for upcoming Democratic debates.

9:17: The crowd is optimistic as the senator speaks, and the resulting applause is a highlight of the night. When the first Texas votes come in with a strong start for Sanders, their excitement and optimism grow.

9:25: Biden’s speech follows Sanders’s. Many jeer as he comments on his increasingly strong showing. A few cheer when protesters rush Biden’s stage. As the speeches wrap up, CNN switches to analysis by the likes of Jake Tapper, Van Jones, and Andrew Yang.

10:31: More votes roll in; Sanders doesn’t seem to be doing as well as projected. The room quickly sours, and many begin to blame Warren’s campaign for splitting the vote. People begin to ask themselves: are they witnessing the exact moment of Sanders’s defeat?

10:44: Warren’s campaign did not win enough support to return to the front of the race. One campaign insider tells CNN that there is no viable path for Warren.

11:04: Sanders’s early lead in Texas continues to narrow. Biden and Sanders tie at 24% reporting according to CNN.

It’s clear that even as Texas is slowly becoming a battleground state between Democrats and Republicans, it’s also become divided between moderate and progressive Democrats.

11:09: Jake Tapper posits that voters are supporting Biden out of fear of a Sanders nomination. He mentions that Biden seems to be a ‘fragile’ nomination for the moderate wing.

11:21: More jeers as a campaign representative talks about Biden’s gains on CNN.

11:28: The CNN hosts speak with smiles of relief as they comment on Biden’s comeback.

11:43: CNN hypothesizes why the Sanders campaign didn’t see a big victory tonight. One contributor continues the narrative about Sanders’s Castro comments.

Around Alexandre’s, the crowd has thinned. Some remaining attendees question why Warren has yet to attack Biden despite her long history of opposition to his politics.

12:03: Jake Tapper suggests that pundit opinion, press and polls have less effect on actual voter decisions than some perceive.

12:14: Very few people remain. The lingerers I speak to feel “backstabbed by Beto” for his endorsement of Biden. Some feel Sanders’s camp was underrepresented in comparison to the continuous interviews of Biden representatives throughout the night.

12:30: The event comes to an end. The bar mutes CNN and turns on music. As I wait for my ride, I hear Sanders supporters having a variety of conversations.

Some debate the likelihood of success of a moderate Biden nomination in the wake of 2016. Others discuss ways Bernie could still get a majority or plurality of delegates.

Most are sobered by the night’s results, but few are disheartened. Many express their intent to double down on their efforts for Sanders.

Scott Peters is an undergraduate at SMU studying political communications.

The Daily Campus welcomes opinion contributions from students, faculty, and community members. Submissions should be no more than 1000 words and are subject to copy editing. Please email submissions to [email protected], and include a cell phone number and a short biography.

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