Former Vice President Joe Biden has clinched another first-place win in the south capturing Tuesday’s grand prize of Florida securing a majority of the state’s 219 delegates in the race to 1,991, the Associated Press projects.
Biden’s victory in Florida marks the Democratic frontrunner’s ninth southern state victory, landing Biden one state closer to a full sweep of the South.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is the last remaining competitive candidate in the race whose path to victory has grown narrower with each state contest where Biden is racking up large-margin victories. Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is still running but has yet to come close to capturing a first-place victory in a single state. On Super Tuesday at the start of the month, Gabbard landed only two delegates which came from the territory of her birthplace American Samoa.
Last week, Sanders lost each state that voted except for North Dakota which is tied with Wyoming for the smallest delegate pot this cycle, winning only eight of the state’s 14 delegates. Biden still won six in the state and carried Washington, Idaho, Missouri, Michigan, and Mississippi, where Sanders didn’t even qualify for at-large delegates after winning less than 15 percent of the vote statewide. Biden scored 32 of Mississippi’s 36 delegates while Sanders won two district delegates for garnering more than 15 percent at the congressional district level.
While Latino voters helped power Sanders’ wins in Nevada and California, the Vermont senator’s support failed to fuel a repeat in Florida which is also home to a large Hispanic population. Sanders’ poor showing in the state however, likely came as a result of Sanders lavishing praise on the communist regime in Cuba earlier this month, offending the state’s Hispanic voters who are Cuban. Despite backlash from having recently touted the regime’s “literacy program,” Sanders refused to walk back his comments in Sunday night’s CNN debate just two days before the Florida primary.
“I think we condemn authoritarianism whether it’s in China, Russia, Cuba or anyplace else,” Sanders said. “But to simply say that nothing ever done by any of those administrations had a positive impact on their people would, I think, be incorrect.”
Arizona and Illinois also cast their ballots for the Democratic nomination on Tuesday, and Sanders is no doubt hoping for a big performance in Arizona where a quarter to a third of its Democratic voters are Latino. The latest polls from Monmouth University and NPR with PBS and Marist however, show Sanders down by 20 and 17 points respectively.
Ohio was also scheduled to hold its primaries on Tuesday but was postponed by Governor Mike DeWine’s orders of a public health emergency over fears that holding the election would further spread the Wuhan virus.