Joe Biden Sweeps Big Tuesday States, Becomes Prohibitive Nominee
On “Big Tuesday”, with a total of 352 delegates available, former Vice President Joe Biden had a great night. Biden beat out Democratic rival Senator Bernie Sanders in four out of the six contests, with Washington still being too close to call. Although some delegates are still to be allotted, he ended the night with a 161 delegate lead over Sanders. Hawaii Representative, Tulsi Gabbard, did not gain any delegates.
Following his Super Tuesday win spurred on by black voters, the former Vice President continued his train of Southern victories. In Mississippi, Biden won by a massive margin of over 60 points. In Missouri, he won with 60.1 percent to Sanders’ 34.6 percent.
Importantly, though, Biden demonstrated that he’s able to appeal to a large swath of voters, including white working-class voters. In 2016, Senator Sanders beat Hillary Clinton in a narrow victory in Michigan, an important win for him which helped drive his campaign forward to the convention. With 125 delegates up for grabs in the state, Michigan was an important territory for Sanders. Earlier this week, Sanders had canceled events in Mississippi to focus on Michigan where he held a racial justice rally.
Sanders fell short, though, and not by a small margin. Biden carried Michigan with 52.9 percent compared to Sanders’ 36.4 percent. The loss came as a major blow to Sanders’ campaign, which needed a big win after their Super Tuesday setback. Michigan is also an important swing state in 2020. President Donald Trump won Michigan in 2016 by a slim margin of less than one-fourth of a percent. Biden’s win with white working-class voters, who flipped in 2016 from historically Democrat to vote for Trump, is an important show of force for the fight ahead in the November general election.
Biden also won Idaho, a state with 20 Democratic delegates and another former Sanders state.
Sanders, on the other hand, performed well in North Dakota, winning 53.3 percent to 39.8 percent. North Dakota, however, was the smallest Democratic prize of the night, carrying only 14 delegates.
Washington state, the second biggest delegate haul of the night with 89 delegates, is still too close to call as of Wednesday morning. Bernie Sanders is currently in a narrow lead of .3 percent, according to NPR. Sanders also needed a big win in Washington, which he won by a massive margin in 2016. Washington is latest in a string of former caucus states to perform worse for Sanders under the new primary rules.
Candidates Cancel Cleveland Rallies Amid Coronavirus Fears
Both Vice President Biden and Senator Sanders canceled scheduled rallies in Cleveland Tuesday night. The candidates responded to advice from Ohio health officials and Governor Mike DeWine. Sanders flew home to Vermont Tuesday night, while Biden returned to campaign headquarters in Philadelphia.
Biden spoke from the Constitution Center in Philadelphia, addressing a small crowd of reporters and campaign staffers. His address was unusually tempered, clear, and focused on unity—a sign that Biden is taking command of the race. Biden pointed out the need for measured Presidential leadership on the novel coronavirus crisis and stated that he would be rolling out a plan to fight COVID-19 on Wednesday.
In his address, Biden extended an olive branch to Sanders’ supporters. “I want to thank Bernie Sanders and his supporters for their tireless energy and their passion. We share a common goal, and together we’ll defeat Donald Trump.”
“If you’re willing if you want to join us … We need you, we want you, there’s a place for you in this campaign.”
Due to the coronavirus, the DNC has decided that the upcoming Democratic debate in Arizona on Sunday will proceed without an audience. Both candidates have said that future events will be handled on a case-by-case basis.
Biden Emerges As Prohibitive Nominee
After securing a significant delegate lead, Biden has emerged as the prohibitive nominee. Given current polling in important remaining states, Sanders would need a major upset to turn the race around.
Andrew Yang, a former presidential candidate, officially endorsed Biden on Tuesday night live on CNN. Yang had previously promised to endorse any candidate who took up his pet policy, universal basic income (UBI), or the future nominee. “I always said I was going to support the nominee … so I hereby am endorsing Joe Biden,” Yang said. “The math says Joe is our prohibitive nominee.”
Some have taken Biden’s frontrunner status to an extreme though, much to the frustration of Sanders supporters. Representative Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, who endorsed Biden before the Super Tuesday contests, sparked controversy with his comments.
“I think when the night is over, Joe Biden will be the prohibitive favorite to win the Democratic nomination, and quite frankly, if the night ends the way it has begun, I think it is time for us to shut this primary down, it is time for us to cancel the rest of these debates,” he said.
Despite Biden’s calls for unity, many Sanders supporters are refusing to fall in line.
Sanders is expected to speak on Wednesday once all of the results are in from Washington.