The only bright spots for Bernie Sanders on Not So Super Tuesday (March 10th) were North Dakota and Washington state. Well, one of those lights just dimmed considerably. While the counting hasn’t finished entirely, Sanders’ lead in Washington has evaporated and Joe Biden has opened up enough of a lead for the Seattle Times to declare him the winner.
Former Vice President Joe Biden has won Washington’s presidential primary, further cementing his status as the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.
As of Monday afternoon, Biden led with nearly 38% of the statewide vote, compared with about 36% for Vermont Sen. Sanders — a gap of 23,000 votes. Biden’s lead had expanded since the two rivals ended election night March 10 in a virtual tie.
The delayed victory — which came amid record turnout for a Washington presidential primary — means Biden won five of the six states that voted March 10.
This result is probably at least somewhat instructive in understanding just how big the seismic shift was after the South Carolina primary. Bernie Sanders had been holding a solid lead in the polls in Washington for months up until then. And since all of the ballots in that state are cast in the mail, many of them had been sent in before the Biden surge. And yet somehow, Joe had obviously been making the beginnings of a comeback there even before his big day on February 29.
Granted, this isn’t much of a lead. But depending on how the individual congressional districts break down, Biden will still take a larger share of the delegates. And owing to the “quirk” of the delegate math, Uncle Joe will take at least one extra delegate because Washington sends an odd number of pledged delegates (107) to the convention. And every delegate counts since Bernie was hoping for at least a couple of wins to prevent Biden from opening up too much of a lead.
That lead may not be mathematically “insurmountable” at this point, but after tonight it will probably be getting close. The current tally (which is still missing a few from previous states) has Biden with 871 versus Sanders’ 719. Ohio probably won’t be voting today as we discussed earlier, but Florida, Arizona and Illinois are still going to the polls. Florida has a buttload of delegates (219) and the most recent polling has Joe Biden holding a nearly 40 point lead over Sanders. Arizona should have been a state that favors Bernie a bit more since he’s been doing better out west, but Biden still appears to be headed for a double-digit win there and the larger share of their 67 pledged delegates. Illinois doesn’t look much better for Sanders, with Biden holding a lead of anwhere from 21 points to 38 points, depending on which of the most recent polls you choose to believe.
Just doing some back of the napkin math, assuming those poll numbers are anywhere close to reality, Joe Biden could wake up tomorrow morning with a total delegate lead in the range of 250. And Bernie doesn’t really have any more states coming up where there’s an obvious hope for a big, blowout win. So does he keep slugging it out all the way to the convention? (Assuming the convention even happens, what with all the coronavirus madness.) Probably. Why bother dropping out if there’s a chance that you can leverage your body of delegates to get some concessions in the party platform?