We’re still awaiting the official results from the state of Washington where former vice president Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders are locked in a close battle, only separated by about 2,000 votes this morning. As for the rest of the country, Biden cleaned up easily, dominating Sanders in places like Michigan, a state which tilted toward the Vermont Senator in 2016.
Biden: Idaho, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi
Sanders: North Dakota
Biden spoke toward the later part of the evening, urging Democratic unity as it appears there is no further path forward for Sanders to conceivably keep up with with the delegate count:
The fact that Washington is too close to call spells bad news for Sanders since the center of his base has been geographically strong on the west coast. If he can’t win convincingly in a state like Washington, where polls had him up big just weeks ago, there are fewer and fewer spots on the primary calendar where he would hope for a further upset.
Sanders chose not to speak last night and instead opted to travel back to his home state of Vermont. We are awaiting any comment or statement from his campaign on the developments from Tuesday night.
Both campaigns scrapped plans to hold rallies on Tuesday citing a desire to avoid creating large gatherings with respect to the Coronavirus. The dynamics of how the virus will affect the primary moving forward could end up curtailing public events held by both candidates since public health concerns around the country seem to be trumping a need or desire to campaign. It’s also worth noting that the Coronavirus seems to affect the elderly more disproportionally than younger, healthier individuals, and both Biden and Sanders are well into their seventies. For that matter, President Trump also sits in the same boat in terms of age-related health concerns with regard to Coronavirus.
With concerns of public events, and the path for Sanders narrowing almost to the point of disappearing, Politico sees Biden closing in the nomination just weeks after his campaign as almost declared dead:
It wasn’t a total wipeout for Sanders: Early Wednesday, he was declared the winner in North Dakota. But one state that should have been a stronghold for him, Washington, was too close to call.
Biden’s victories were so decisive that Sanders’ campaign spent the night batting away speculation about whether he would quit the race. After canceling a planned speech in Cleveland over coronavirus concerns, Sanders declined to speak as his losses mounted.
With 125 delegates up for grabs, Michigan was important for Sanders substantively and symbolically. It was the state where he scored an upset over Hillary Clinton in 2016, making the primary more competitive than insiders had thought. Michigan then went for Donald Trump by less than a quarter point.
Biden won across the state, making a statement about his electability as well as Sanders’ shortcomings as a general election standard-bearer.
It’s hard to see how or why Bernie Sanders will continue to campaign much longer. The next states on the schedule include Arizona, Illinois, Florida, and Ohio, all areas where Biden is expected to perform very well. Perhaps Illinois is the only other state where Sanders could be more competitive, but he’ll need a lot more than that to keep his argument alive that he can build a coalition necessary for victory next year.
It’s entirely possible this week that Sanders bows out, or decides to keep fighting to the next round and attend the debate on Sunday, March 15.