WASHINGTON — Joe Biden just won big in Florida and Illinois, putting him that much closer to the Democratic nomination as Democratic voters look to move past the primary.
The lopsided wins came in the last two large-state primaries we’ll be seeing for some time. The pair of states and Arizona decided to continue its primary elections in spite of the threat of coronavirus. Biden led Bernie Sanders by 62% to 23% with 81% of precincts reporting in Florida and by 57% to 38% with 9% of precincts counted in Illinois. The Associated Press has called both states.
Those lopsided wins will give Biden a huge trove of delegates, making him the prohibitive favorite for the Democratic nomination. Florida had 219 delegates up for grabs and Illinois had 155, making them the second- and fourth-largest delegate hauls left in the primary before Tuesday night.
But the primary elections themselves were secondary in the face of the ongoing international crisis unfolding around coronavirus. Florida, Illinois and Arizona officials opted to move forward with their primaries despite the pandemic, but faced some major election issues as . Ohio officials had planned to do so as well, but canceled that at the last minute.
In a somber Tuesday evening speech, Sanders made clear that his focus, like most Americans’, was on the coronavirus and its ongoing economic destruction and not on the primaries’ results. Sanders outlined proposals to help workers of all stripes who are facing lost wages or layoffs as the pandemic shuts down large swaths of the economy.
“If we work together, if we do not turn to fear and panic, but if we understand the way we solve this is to go forward as one people, remembering those who hurt tonight and those who hurt in the future,” he said in a livestream speech. “We can do it, we can address this crisis, we can minimize the pain.”
In both Illinois and Florida, cities and counties struggled to polling places as droves of poll workers stayed home due to fears of the disease. But mail-in and early voting was so high that in both states, it looked like the total number of voters would eclipse 2016 levels.
Arizona polls close at 10 p.m. EST. Biden has led Sanders by a wide margin in recent polls of that state as well.
Cover: Democratic presidential hopeful former US vice president Joe Biden makes a point as he and Senator Bernie Sanders take part in the 11th Democratic Party 2020 presidential debate in a CNN Washington Bureau studio in Washington, DC on March 15, 2020. (Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)