Supporters of former candidates frustrated; Sanders supporters defiant

While Florida voters and officials are worried about impacts of the coronavirus on the presidential primary Tuesday, others are dealing with another type of issue: having cast a ballot for someone no longer in the race.

Just before the March 3 Super Tuesday contests, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg dropped out, followed shortly after by Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar. On March 4, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg left the race, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren bowed out on March 7.

“I’ve always believed that defeating Donald Trump starts with uniting behind the candidate with the best shot to do it,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “After yesterday’s vote, it is clear that candidate is my friend and a great American, Joe Biden.”

The problem? Early voting in the state started March 2. In Miami-Dade County, 49,305 voters have filled their ballots out as of Sunday — 16,770 coming before Warren dropped out.

“Naturally I feel disappointed,” said Jose Guilarte, a 24-year-old FIU student who voted for Warren three days before she dropped out of the race. “The reason I back a candidate is because I truly believe they would lead us into a better future and that’s exactly why Warren got my support.”

But as states around the country finalize their polling results, it is looking more likely that Biden will be the Democratic candidate facing-off against President Donald Trump this November.

Biden has gathered 890 delegates to Bernie Sanders’ 736 as of Monday morning, according to NPR’s delegate tracker. 

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will continue to press on despite trailing in the polls in Florida and in many of the states remaining. Some of his supporters are beginning to see the window of opportunity close on his progressive campaign.

“I personally feel like this was something that was inevitable,” said Jonan Morales, a 24-year-old FIU student and Sanders supporter. “From Yang to Sanders, the world wasn’t quite ready for a transition this intense.”

Other supporters are standing alongside him through his fight to win the nomination.

Jason Fabiano, a 24-year-old Sanders supporter, voted on Wednesday.

Fabiano’s hope is that if neither of the two candidates reach the 1,991 delegates needed to clinch the nomination, Sanders will have a fighting chance to win the superdelegates vote on the second ballot of the convention.

“We won’t go away,” he said. “We won’t be ignored.”

The loyalty of Sanders’ supporters is strong. So strong that there is concern that his supporters may stay away from the polls entirely if Sanders is not the nominee.

“I, for one, am a massive Bernie supporter, an enthusiast really,” Morales said. “But I find myself more drawn to the polls than ever. However, it is more than evident that many of the Bernie supporters stand with Sanders and Sanders alone. Their notable absence at the polls may be the turning point for the Republicans to remain in power.”

At this rate, Sanders’ supporters are likely to face a tough decision — stay home or vote for Biden.

“Biden is akin to brushing your teeth with mint and then drinking orange juice afterwards,” Morales said. “He is the antithesis of Bernie, more adversary than his democratic counterpart really. While Biden remains steadfast in his campaign and support, he is everything Bernie is not. He’s dated, jaded and most of all hated by many. It’s frankly a harrowing effort to even vote for him. I don’t want to, but for the state of the Democratic Party and the U.S., it’s Biden or bust.”

Fabiano held a similar stance.

“I will [vote for Biden] because even though I don’t think Joe Biden is a good person, I’m pragmatic enough to realize Trump is far worse,” he said. “I’d vote for Biden and as soon as he’s there, it’s time for the progressive caucus to not stay silent and push him as left as he will go.”

Some Democrats are torn completely — to the point that they may not vote at all. 32-year-old Thomas Borello doesn’t feel confident about any of the remaining candidates and is leaning towards not casting a ballot.

“[Biden] comes off to me as super old and senile,” Borello said. “He has trouble completing sentences. All these guys are in their 70s. It’s stressful.”

This is the reality that many Democrats are facing with the party seemingly split at its seams.

“I think it’s incredibly fragmented,” Fabiano said. “Both parties are. We shouldn’t have a two-party system. Ideologies run too wide for there to be just two parties. You’re left with fragmented parties. Older people want to keep the status quo, younger people want huge political reform. The only difference is old people actually vote.”

Born and raised in Miami, Florida. He is currently a Miami Hurricanes football and recruiting writer for 247Sports.