Former Vice President Joe Biden has officially swept Tuesday’s primaries, capturing a first-place finish in Arizona after winning in Florida and Illinois. Ohio was originally scheduled to hold its primary Tuesday, but it was postponed by Gov. Mike DeWine declaring a public health emergency over the Wuhan virus.
Biden’s victory in Arizona further narrows an already slender path to the 1,991 delegates needed for Sanders to clinch the nomination in Milwaukee this summer.
Sanders, whose victories in Nevada and California were won in large part by strong support among Hispanics, was hoping for a big performance in Arizona, since anywhere from a quarter to a third of the state’s Democratic voters are Latino. Sanders’ hopes failed to come to fruition, however, as Biden beat back Sanders as the likely Democratic nominee with a clean sweep of the South thus far, joined by major wins in states where Sanders was expected to do well, such as Washington and Michigan.
Sanders’ loss in Michigan last week was particularly damaging for the progressive after he pulled off a narrow upset in the state four years earlier against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In 2016, Sanders shocked the political establishment when he captured a win by a razor-thin margin despite being far behind in the polls following Super Tuesday.
This year, Sanders saw no such repeat and lost the Midwestern battleground by about 17 points to Biden, raising doubts about the New England senator’s ability to carry critical Rust Belt states that flipped to Trump four years ago.
The next Democratic contest will not be until March 29 when Puerto Rico will hold its primary. Alaska, Hawaii, and Wyoming will follow April 4.