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After gaining a majority of the delegates in last week’s Super Tuesday races, Joe Biden became a surprise frontrunner in the race for the Democratic nomination for president, just days after it had been declared that his campaign was all but dead.
On Tuesday, March 10, Biden looked set to extend his delegate lead as six more states held votes, including Mississippi, Missouri, Idaho, Washington, North Dakota and Michigan.
Mississippi and Missouri were called for Biden just after polls closed. Biden also picked up Michigan, the biggest state of the night with a total of 125 delegates.
Bernie Sanders, the Senator from Vermont who saw his lead in delegates evaporate during last week’s contests, had spent the past four days in Michigan, hoping to win there after narrowly beating Hillary Cinton in the state during 2016’s primary elections.
According to exit polls, Biden won white voters without college degrees by a margin of 51 percent to 45 percent. This is a group Sanders won in 2016, when he beat Hillary Clinton. Voters also believed Biden had the best chance of beating President Trump in November at 55 percent to Sanders’ 32 percent. Beating President Trump has consistently been a top priority for Democratic primary voters.
With the coronavirus spreading around the world, Missouri voters trust Biden over Sanders to handle a major crisis at 61 percent while Sanders sits at 27 percent. In Michigan, voters also trust Biden at 51 percent over Sanders at 32 percent, to handle a major crisis.
Sanders, however, maintained strength among young voters winning 72 percent of voters under 30 in Missouri and 65 percent in Michigan, according to AP VoteCast. Sanders and Biden were also pretty even among voters aged between 30 to 44.
Biden’s win in Michigan was a major blow to the Sanders campaign as Democratic voters seem to be solidly coalescing around the former Vice President.
Sanders did not address supporters or the press at any point on Tuesday night.
Booker, Harris and Yang back Biden
A string of endorsements over the past several weeks have added further energy to the Biden campaign. Many former candidates for the Democratic nomination have publicly endorsed Biden, including Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Michael Bloomberg.
Before the vote in Michigan, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, two other early candidates in the race, came out for Biden, attending a rally with him in Detroit before the vote.
According to CNN analysis, these endorsements are significant as it is extremely rare for the leader in endorsements from public officials this far into the race to lose. Since winning the South Carolina primary, Biden has picked up over 40 endorsements from state governors and members of Congress.
Cory Booker, a Senator from New Jersey who dropped out of the race in January, initially endorsed Biden in a tweet, writing that Biden will “show us there is more that unites us than divides us” and that “he’ll restore honor to the Oval Office and tackle our most pressing challenges.”
During her announcement, Harris, a Senator from California, said that “there was no one better prepared than Joe to steer our nation during these turbulent times.”
Finally, as the results from Tuesday’s contests were still coming in, Andrew Yang endorsed Joe Biden live on CNN, saying, “I always said I was going to support the nominee … I hereby am endorsing Joe Biden.” Yang added that, “The math says Joe is our prohibitive nominee. We need to bring our party together.”
Yang was a public supporter of Sanders in 2016, stating Sanders had inspired his own presidential run, which Yang suspended in February.
Public rallies canceled
The coronavirus has also affected the night’s events, with both Biden and Sanders canceling their respective rallies in Ohio that had been planned for Tuesday night.
The cancellations are the first major political events called off due to the threat of spreading the virus. Biden is expected to deliver remarks at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia in an event that is not open to the public.
Similar cancellations may be imminent. The democratic debate set for this upcoming Sunday in Phoenix, Arizona, will be delivered without a live audience to mitigate the potential spread of the virus.
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