Biden wins Minnesota, surges in South; Sanders wins Colorado
WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden scored key Super Tuesday victories in Minnesota and across the South, building on momentum that has swiftly revived his Democratic presidential campaign in recent days. Bernie Sanders countered with wins in his home state of Vermont and in Colorado, as the race began to shift west, where some polls were starting to close.
Biden took Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma and the battleground states of North Carolina and Virginia, a strong showing as 14 states went to the polls across the nation. Still, results were unclear in the two top prizes, Texas and California — meaning the night’s biggest winner remained to be determined.
Minnesota helped Biden show strength in the upper Midwest, and Oklahoma added further geographic variety — but his stronghold remained the Deep South. His victories in heavily African American states complemented the former vice president’s resounding win in last weekend’s South Carolina primary. Virginia was especially key, however, because Sanders, a Vermont senator, and billionaire former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg heavily contested it over the past week.
A once-jumbled race arrived at the most pivotal night of the primary as an increasingly well-defined battle between leftist Democrats who back the likes of Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and centrists preferring Biden. A wild card had been Bloomberg, who skipped the primary’s first four states but poured more than $500 million of his personal fortune into TV advertising in Super Tuesday states.
As the night wore on, the former mayor appeared to have little to show for all that spending, though. He was planning to fly to New York to reassess his campaign, according to a person close to his operation who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal deliberations. That might leave Warren facing increased pressure to rethink her campaign and may ultimately result in the race winnowing to Biden and Sanders, two white men in their late 70s. It would be a dramatic evolution for a Democratic field once celebrated for so many women and candidates of color.
A measure of good news for Bloomberg came in the U.S. territory of American Samoa, where he took five of its six delegates, with the final one going to U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii. But that wasn’t enough to make up for his struggles elsewhere.
Two other moderates, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, both left the race in the run-up to Super Tuesday, then endorsed Biden on Monday. That helped unify moderates with surprising efficiency and force behind the former vice president, whose campaign risked collapsing until South Carolina.
Biden’s continued turnaround was all the more surprising because Super Tuesday was supposed to be about monster fundraising and strong political organization across such a large swath of the country. Biden largely had neither and yet managed a strong night. Sanders, an avowed democratic socialist, argued that the party’s elders were scrambling to block him from a nomination it appeared just last week he could run away with.
“The political establishment has made their choice: Anybody but Bernie Sanders,” Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir wrote in a fundraising message Tuesday.