Following a strong performance in last week’s Super Tuesday races, former Joe Biden entered yesterday’s primaries (popularly called “Super Tuesday II”) looking for a potential finishing blow against Bernie Sanders. The night looked to be a strong one for Biden, but how did he do in the six states that cast their votes? Well, it was a really impressive performance overall and a good sign that the Democratic primary might be winding down.
Sanders won the 2016 Idaho caucus by 57 percentage points, but the Idaho Democratic Party opted to switch to a primary for the 2020 election. Sanders typically does worse in primaries than caucuses, but his strong performance in Utah’s primary was taken as a good sign for his chances in Idaho. However, Biden would ultimately come out on top in the Gem State by around 8,000 votes, a margin of 6.4 percentage points, securing a majority of the state’s 20 delegates.
Despite its deep red status nationally, Mississippi is an important state for Democrats due to its large black population. Clinton won the state 83-17 and swept every county in 2016, and 2020 wasn’t expected to be different. Sure enough, Biden won this state and almost all of its 36 delegates in a romp, securing a 66 percentage point victory over Sanders; exit polls indicated that Biden won 84% of black voters, who accounted for two-thirds of the electorate.
Biden defeated Sanders 81.1-14.8%; the threshold for viability statewide is 15%, which means that Sanders will not receive any statewide delegates. He did secure several delegates from the state’s congressional districts, however, so it’s not a complete wipeout.
Sanders looked to Michigan with high hopes; he had scored a narrow upset victory over Clinton in 2016 despite double-digit deficits in polling, and winning it again would give him a huge delegate haul and momentum boost. As the votes came in, however, it became quickly apparent that the race was not going to be close; outlets began calling it for Biden even before his stronghold of Wayne County began reporting. Biden would win this race (and a majority of Michigan’s 125 delegates) by nearly 17 percentage points – a popular vote margin of over 261,000 votes.
Support for Sanders declined all over Michigan, from college towns to rural areas. Despite carrying 73 of the state’s 83 counties in 2016, Sanders failed to carry a single one this time, not even the college county of Washtenaw, home to the University of Michigan. For a race he was hoping to win, it’s hard to imagine that Michigan could have gone any worse for Sanders.
Sanders only lost Missouri by 1,500 votes in 2016, but polling indicated that Missouri’s 68 delegates would be strongly in the Biden camp this time. When the votes began to be counted, it became immediately apparent that the polls weren’t wrong – Biden defeated Sanders by nearly 170,000 votes (a margin of nearly 26 percentage points) and swept every county in the state.
Biden performed well all over the state but did the best in the St. Louis area and St. Louis County in particular, where he won 65% of the vote to only 29% for Sanders. Sanders ran the closest in Jasper County, which he lost by only seven votes; he also lost Boone County, home of the University of Missouri, by over five percentage points.
After years of being a caucus state, North Dakota opted to do a “firehouse caucus” this time to determine who would receive its 14 delegates. This “firehouse caucus” format is similar to a primary but is run by a party instead of the state. Instead of going to precincts, voters reported to only 14 voting locations across the vast state, a decision that resulted in long lines at some voting stations. Sanders won this state easily in the 2016 caucuses and repeated as victor on Tuesday with a solid 53-40 win.
One of the biggest delegate hauls on Super Tuesday II was Washington’s primary, with 89 delegates up for grabs. Sanders entered this one as a slight favorite; he had easily won the state’s caucus in 2016 but narrowly lost a non-binding primary. This time around the polls were tight and the race appears to be close as well. At the time of publication, Washington is the only uncalled race. Sanders currently holds a slight lead over Biden, but the winner might not be known for several days as the votes continue to be counted.
The territory of the Northern Mariana Islands is set to hold their caucus on March 14th, and four major states (Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio) are set to cast their votes on March 17th; 583 delegates will be awarded among these states and CNMI.
If there’s any hope for a Sanders comeback, he’s going to need an incredibly strong performance. The March 15th debate might be the final chance Sanders has to try and bring voters back to his campaign, but the damage might already be done. It’s simply hard to find a lot of positives from Super Tuesday II for anyone not named Joe Biden, and with a large lead in both delegates and the popular vote, he seems set to secure the Democratic nomination.