Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Bye-Bye Bernie: Biden Thumps Sanders on Stupor Tuesday

By Matt Welch - March 17, 2020 at 08:29PM

You can be forgiven amid the coronavirus news smother for forgetting that there's still a Democratic presidential nominating process underway. Judging by tonight's results, Democrats themselves are eager to put that competition behind them as well.

Unsurprisingly, it took about one second after polls closed in Fidel Castro–hating Florida for the 219-delegate Sunshine State to be called against revolution-enthusiast Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) and in favor of former vice president Joe Biden. At 80 percent reporting, in keeping with pre-election polling, Biden was ahead by an impressive 38 percentage points, good for a preliminary 126–17 delegate advantage.

But 155-delegate Illinois, too, illustrated the madness of Bernie's March. The democratic socialist, who had a comfortable polling lead in the Prairie State for most of the month of February, was down 58 percent to 34 percent with 3 percent of the vote tallied, though networks were still judging the race too close to call. (UPDATE: Multiple news organizations have now called Biden the winner of Illinois.)

Had Ohio not canceled its primary, today could have been a three-fer for Larry David's lesser half. Arizona wraps up at 10 p.m. eastern time, with a projection of even more pain.

What a stunning turn events from as recently as one month ago, when Sanders in Nevada decisively notched up his third of three early-state victories, with Biden settling for the consolation of having finished higher than fourth place in a presidential contest for the first time ever in his four-decade quest for the keys to the Oval Office.

"Sanders hasn't locked up the race yet, but he's now in a position to do so," Reason's Peter Suderman concluded back then. "Democrats look very much like they're about to nominate a self-described democratic socialist for president." That did not happen.

Turns out when the field clears to just two or three candidates, there is a demonstrated ceiling to the Bernie Sanders vote, particularly in a year when Democrats are more focused than ever on perceived ability to beat President Donald Trump.

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