Either Biden or Sanders needs at least 1,991 delegates to win the Democratic Party's nomination and go on to face Donald Trump in November's election

By Sean Neumann and Adam Carlson
March 10, 2020 10:44 PM
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Former Vice President Joe Biden easily won at least three of the six states that voted Tuesday in the Democratic Party’s presidential contest: Michigan, Mississippi and Missouri.

Multiple news outlets declared him victorious not long after polls began closing there.

His wide margin in Michigan, in particular, delivered a significant strategic and symbolic blow to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders‘ hopes of turning the race for the Democratic nomination into a protracted head-to-head.

With votes still to be counted, Biden held double-digit margins over Sanders in Michigan, Mississippi and Missouri as of late Tuesday.

In the latter two states, he was winning by about 65 percent and 25 percent, respectively.

The other states voting Tuesday — Idaho, North Dakota and Washington — are further west and had only just begun reporting results given the time change. Sanders had an early lead in North Dakota while Biden was leading in Idaho. Washington was a much closer contest.

Either Biden or Sanders needs at least 1,991 total delegates to win the Democratic nomination this summer and go on to face President Donald Trump in November’s election.

So far, Biden has 783 delegates to Sanders’ 628, according to The New York Times.

With many states still to vote in the next three months, it remains unclear how exactly the remainder of the primary race will play out. But Sanders’ path to success narrows by the day.

Following Biden’s big wins on “Super Tuesday” last week, he has now established a commanding lead over Sanders in both votes and delegates in seeking the Democratic nomination.

Sanders had won in New Hampshire and Nevada, two early states to vote in the Democratic race, but has fallen further and further behind.

The Michigan loss on Tuesday highlights his challenges moving forward: He surprisingly won the state in the 2016 Democratic primary race, besting Hillary Clinton and underlining what proved to be a surprisingly strong — if ultimately unsuccessful — challenge against her for the nomination.

Clinton, 72, went on to win the Democratic primary, only to narrowly lose to Trump in the general election that fall. Her defeat, in part, hinged on an equally narrow loss to Trump in Michigan, which had been a reliable Democratic state before flipping to Trump.

Many of the same voters who lifted Sanders to his upset win four years ago swung to Biden this week as Democratic turnout appeared to rise overall.

Former Vice President Joe Biden
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Sen. Bernie Sanders
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“It’s time to focus on beating Donald Trump,” Biden said last week after his “Super Tuesday” victories in Texas, Virginia and elsewhere. Those wins dramatically reversed what had been a rough start for his campaign with distant finishes in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.

“I’m here to report: We are very much alive,” Biden said on March 3. “And make no mistake about it, this campaign will send Donald Trump packing.”

In a statement on Tuesday, Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale dismissed both candidates as “two sides of the same coin” and slammed their platforms as “socialist.” He also echoed criticisms from Trump, 73, and his allies about Biden’s age, while the Biden camp has routinely argued Trump is worried Biden would be his strongest challenger.

“The Democrat candidate for president will be running on a big government socialist agenda regardless of the name on the ballot. It is also clear that the Democrat establishment has rallied around the confused Joe Biden in an effort to deny the nomination to Bernie Sanders,” Parscale said. “Either way, President Trump is on an unstoppable drive toward re-election.”

Both Biden and Sanders had canceled their rallies planned for Tuesday in Cleveland amid concerns over the novel coronavirus outbreak and at health officials’ recommendation that Americans use “social distancing” and avoid large crowds.

“In accordance with guidance from public officials and out of an abundance of caution, our rally in Cleveland, Ohio tonight is cancelled,” Biden’s deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

The former vice president’s campaign made a comeback last week on “Super Tuesday,” overtaking Sanders for the lead in the delegate count and securing a sweeping list of major endorsements in the process.

Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who had all dropped out of the primary race, all endorsed Biden before he went on to win 10 states on March 3.

Still, Sanders won four states that night, including the largest, California, and remained within 100 delegates of Biden’s lead heading into Tuesday’s contests.

President Donald Trump
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Former Vice President Joe Biden in February.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

After “Super Tuesday” shook up the once crowded field of Democratic candidates, Biden also got an endorsement from billionaire Mike Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor who spent historic amounts to raise his national profile through hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising.

“Three months ago, I entered the race for president to defeat Donald Trump. Today, I am leaving the race for the same reason: to defeat Donald Trump — because it is clear to me that staying in would make achieving that goal more difficult,” Bloomberg, 78, said in a statement last Wednesday. “I’ve always believed that defeating Donald Trump starts with uniting behind the candidate with the best shot to do it. After [“Super Tuesday”]’s vote, it is clear that candidate is my friend and a great American, Joe Biden.”

Bloomberg — who Sanders accused of trying to “buy the presidency” during previous debates — said he was prepared to keep spending big to help whoever became the Democratic candidate. (Sen. Kamala Harris, another former 2020 rival, also endorsed Biden this week.)

Trump maintained on social media Tuesday that he’d beat either Biden or Sanders in the general election.