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In another strong showing, Joe Biden, former vice president under Barack Obama, won the Democratic primaries in Florida and Illinois. He was facing off against progressive Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
Continuing his streak of victories, Biden further widened his delegate count, with Illinois and Michigan holding the biggest prizes of the night.
Biden emerged victorious with a continued strength among black voters, older voters and moderates, winning over three-quarters of those demographics. “Biden and Sanders were poised for a battle over the Midwest’s white working-class voters. But victories in Michigan and Illinois have shown Biden’s real strength there,” said New York Times reporter Katie Glueck.
Polling in Arizona is set to close at 10 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST). Ohio, the other primary that was scheduled for March 17, was postponed due to coronavirus concerns.
Sanders still going
After last Tuesday’s performance, in which Sanders lost Michigan, Missouri and Mississippi, his campaign vowed to stay in the race, with special attention given to the Arizona debate last Sunday, as it was the first chance for Sanders to meet Biden one-on-one on the debate stage.
But with the path to the nomination looking weaker with each passing primary, the campaign is facing questions about his candidacy in this year’s race.
Some high-ranking campaign personnel have publicly expressed their hopes of him staying in the race. Nina Turner, one of the campaign’s national co-chairs, characterized his candidacy as “the culmination of this man’s life’s work.” “I want the senator to stay in,” she added. “I think other voters have a right to have a choice. This is not a coronation. We know what happened last time in 2016 – it gave us Donald J. Trump.”
Sanders, for his part, decided to speak to his supporters early on Tuesday evening, March 17, choosing to ignore the election results and focus on the coronavirus crisis.
Biden takes strong lead
Joe Biden, meanwhile, with his latest string of victories, may make it difficult for Sanders to catch up in the Democratic race.
To win the nomination, the candidate needs a majority of pledged delegates, which is based on the number of votes they receive in the primary elections. With nearly 60% of the delegates assigned after this Tuesday’s round of voting, and Biden in a commanding lead, the math suggests Sanders’ path to the nomination is unlikely.
With that said, he does not yet face the prospect of mathematical elimination.
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