Biden scores wins across Super Tuesday map, while Sanders captures biggest prize in California
One-third of delegates at stake in the 14 states balloting
Former Vice President Joe Biden scored convincing wins across the Super Tuesday map to take the lead in the race for delegates, while Bernie Sanders captured four states that included the night's biggest prize in California.
Biden swept all of the Southern contests, including delegate-rich Texas, while also scoring surprising wins in Sanders’ former stronghold of Minnesota and Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s home state of Massachusetts.
On political life support just a week ago after poor showings in early primaries, the 78-year-old former Vice President completed his comeback with at least nine wins in states that included Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Arkansas to go with his weekend win in South Carolina.
Biden immediately relished his improbable comeback in a victory speech in Los Angeles.
“For those that have been knocked down, counted out, left behind, this is your campaign,” he said. “Just a few days ago the press and the pundits declared the campaign dead.
"We are very much alive,” he boasted.
President Trump, who easily won all of the GOP Super Tuesday contests, on Wednesday used his Twitter to attack the New Democratic frontrunner.
“The Democrat establishment came together and crushed Bernie Sanders, AGAIN! Even the fact that Elizabeth Warren stayed in the race was devastating to Bernie and allowed Sleepy Joe to unthinkably win Massachusetts,” the president wrote. “It was a perfect storm, with many good states remaining for Joe!”
Sanders, the democratic socialist, captured his home state of Vermont, Colorado, Utah and California, the night’s largest jackpot with 415 delegates.
Exit polls showed Sanders faring well with young voters and Hispanics, while Biden saw strength among moderate, older and African Americans voters. Democrats also placed high on their list the ability to pick a nominee who could unseat President Donald Trump.
The performance left Biden projected to win the most delegates with Sanders in second, and the rest of the field far behind.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg appeared on the ballot Tuesday for the first time, scoring his first win and a projected five delegates in American Samoa, with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard's capturing one delegate from the U.S. territory. But it was a small haul for a candidate who spent a half billion dollars of his own money.
A source told the Associated Press that Bloomberg will reassess on Wednesday if he should remain in the presidential race in light of Tuesday's results.
Biden's win in Minnesota, a state that Sanders won during the 2016 Democratic primary, was an upset victory that came after Sen. Amy Klobuchar dropped out of the race and endorsed the former vice president on Monday.
With a third of delegates up for grabs, Biden continued to build momentum in states with Southern moderates and establishment voters while Sanders tried to grab a stranglehold on the party's restless liberal base.
While state-by-state wins were closely watched, the more important statistic was the total number of delegates were awarded, a process that could take one or more days to complete.
The race has essentially boiled down to a contest between Biden and Sanders, though Bloomberg and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren were seeking to find enough support to stay in the race.
Warren finished a disappointing third in her home state.
Bloomberg's late start campaign appeared on ballots for the first time. The billionaire businessman bypassed the early-nominating states to focus his efforts -- and about $500 million of his own money -- on Super Tuesday, in which roughly one-third of the 1,991 delegates needed to win the party nomination for president are at stake.
Bloomberg has enough money to remain in the race but has recently acknowledged having only a long-shot chance of collecting enough delegates to win the nomination.
The delegate count as a result of the voting Tuesday is too difficult to tally on election night because states have different methods of apportioning them including by district or state-wide.
Earlier this week, Pete Buttigieg, a former South Bend, Indiana, mayor, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar exited the race, then endorsed Biden, after his decisive win this past weekend in the South Carolina primary.
Still, the recently narrowed field that has cleared the path for Biden to win over a coalition of moderate Democratic voters and secure the nomination might be too little, too late.
“Democrats are approaching what Southerners often call a ‘come to Jesus’ moment, namely the realization that there is a pretty good chance Bernie Sanders builds up an insurmountable lead, or close to it, on Super Tuesday,” says long-time political analyst and election forecaster Charlie Cook.
Going into Super Tuesday Sanders lead in the unofficial delegate count with 60, followed by former Vice President Biden with 54 and Warren with eight.
However, early polling and forecasting show that Sanders, a democratic socialist seeking the Democratic Party nomination, is poised for a big Super Tuesday, particularly in California and Texas, which have a combined 643 delegates up for grabs.
Whoever wins the Democratic nomination is expected to face President Trump, who’s running unopposed as the leader of the Republican Party.