Updated Mar 18, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden sweeps first primaries since coronavirus declared national emergency

Sanders and Biden
Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Joe Biden has won the Florida, Arizona and Illinois Democratic primaries, giving him what is increasingly becoming an insurmountable delegate lead over Bernie Sanders.

Why it matters: The contests on Tuesday marked the first round of state primaries since President Trump declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus pandemic. Sanders and Biden have canceled rallies and traditional outreach efforts in order to stop the spread of the virus.

  • Biden is projected to win all three states as of 11pm ET Tuesday. Sanders, who is facing calls to drop out, did not address the press or his supporters on Tuesday night.
  • Ohio was also set to vote Tuesday, but Gov. Mike DeWine stepped in and ordered the closure of polling sites, citing a public health emergency. He is seeking to delay in-person voting to June 2.

Our thought bubble: Sanders has continually lost states where a majority of Democratic voters supported Medicare for All.

  • And if you can’t win places like Florida and Illinois, what’s the case for the general election?

The bottom line: The coronavirus has been smothering Sanders’ already difficult path to a comeback. 

  • The Bernie movement was built on massive rally crowds and huge canvassing efforts, all of which have come to a grinding halt with social distancing. 
  • Sanders' chance to make his case on TV and social media has been crowded out by the public and media focus on the virus. For example, cable networks broke away from their primary coverage last night to discuss the virus.
Florida

Biden was projected to win the state within minutes of polls closing. The state's final precincts closed at 8pm ET.

  • 219 delegates are up for grabs.
Illinois

Biden was projected to win the state within a half-hour of polls closing. The state's final polling places closed at 8pm ET.

  • 155 delegates are up for grabs.
Arizona

Biden was projected to win the state. The state's final polling places closed at 10pm ET.

  • 67 delegates are up for grabs.
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