I'll make no secret of the fact that I'm a Bernie Sanders supporter, so I hope this isn't going to come across as sour grapes, but I've been watching in bemusement over the last few hours as CNN (and I presume the other US networks) have put on a Hollywood production intended to propel Joe Biden to the Democratic nomination. I have little doubt Biden will now be the nominee, unless he self-destructs as he has in the past. He'll owe his eventual victory to sheer momentum, but that momentum has been generated more by the networks than by the actual results overnight, which on any objective reading have been pretty close. So how are the likes of CNN stitching it up for Biden? There have been a few tricks -
1) Downplaying the proportional element of the delegate allocation and acting as if the states are winner-takes-all. It shouldn't really matter a damn whether Biden wins a small state like Maine by a couple of points or whether Sanders wins it by a couple of points, because either way the delegate count for each candidate would be virtually the same. Even in a much bigger state like Texas, it only makes a modest difference. But by treating the overall "winner" in each state as all-important, the networks make it seem hugely important for viewers and thus generate momentum for Biden after every coin toss "victory".
2) Pretending Biden's probable win in Texas is a monumental shock and repeating over and over again that nobody saw it coming, and using that as an excuse to make Texas "the story of the night". In the real world, plenty of people saw Biden's victory in Texas coming - he was actually the slight favourite in that state on the Betfair exchange at the start of the night. The reason was straightforward arithmetic - Sanders' lead over Biden in the polls didn't exceed the combined vote for Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, who left the race over the last 48 hours and urged their supporters to vote for Biden.
3) Comparing apples with oranges to make it look as if Bernie Sanders is doing worse than in 2016. For example, it was pointed out repeatedly that Sanders won Minnesota in 2016 and lost it this time, but what was barely mentioned is that Minnesota has in the interim switched from a caucus system to a primary system and the two results are therefore not remotely comparable.
4) Using all of the above to distract from what should be the truly salient fact - ie. that Sanders and Biden are probably going to end up with a fairly similar overall number of delegates from the night. Yes, Biden has done better than expected and it's reasonable to reflect that in the reporting, but a network doing its job properly would also be pointing out that the race is now relatively even-stevens and there's all to play for in the coming weeks. Instead viewers are being fed a fairy-tale about an invincible Biden sweeping all before him, which is seemingly based mostly on a couple of percentage points here or there in Texas (the equivalent of only a handful of delegates).