Biden steamrolls Sanders in three Democratic presidential primaries, Latest World News - The New Paper

Biden steamrolls Sanders in three Democratic presidential primaries

This article is more than 12 months old

Former US vice-president now has 230-delegate lead over rival Bernie Sanders

WASHINGTON : Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden coasted to blowout victories in Tuesday's three Democratic presidential primaries, expanding his nearly unbeatable lead in the race to challenge President Donald Trump in November and increasing pressure on rival Bernie Sanders to end his campaign.

The dominating wins in Florida, Illinois and Arizona were a sign Democrats were ready to rally behind Mr Biden and turn their focus to the looming Nov 3 election battle against US President Donald Trump, before the campaign enters an extended hiatus with no primary votes scheduled for weeks amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The victories also raised questions about whether Mr Sanders should continue his pursuit of the White House. Party leaders have worried about a repeat of 2016, when they believe the US senator's long, bitter primary battle with Mrs Hillary Clinton played a role in her upset loss to Mr Trump, 73.


Mr Biden, 77, strung together a series of decisive wins, routing Mr Sanders by nearly 40 percentage points in Florida, 20 points in Illinois and more than 10 points in Arizona.

In sombre remarks broadcast from his home in Delaware, the former vice-president said the coronavirus outbreak demanded leadership from the White House, and made an appeal to the many young supporters drawn to Mr Sanders, a democratic socialist.

"Let me say especially to the young voters who have been inspired by Senator Sanders: I hear you. I know what's at stake.

"I know what we have to do," he said.

"Our goal as a campaign and my goal as a candidate for president was to unify this party and then to unify the nation."

Mr Biden's sweeping victories were powered by a broad coalition of voters of every ideology and demographic, Edison Research polls showed. Young voters between ages 18 and 44 were the only major demographic that backed Mr Sanders on Tuesday, the polls found.

A majority of voters in all three states trusted Mr Biden more than Mr Sanders, 78, to handle a major crisis, the polls found, in a sign the deepening health crisis has increased Mr Biden's appeal as a steady and experienced hand.

They also found seven of 10 voters in all three states believed Mr Biden had the best chance of beating Mr Trump, a crucial factor in this year's Democratic race where electability has been the top priority for many voters.

Mr Biden's overpowering performance in Florida, a traditional battleground state where he won every county, was an encouraging general election sign for Democrats. Mr Trump narrowly beat Mrs Clinton in Florida in 2016.

Mr Biden had taken command of the Democratic race in the past two weeks, scoring victories in 16 of the last 21 state contests. His sweep on Tuesday extended his lead over Mr Sanders to roughly 230 delegates in the chase for the 1,991 delegates needed to clinch the nomination at July's Democratic convention.

Edison Research estimated Democratic turnout in Florida at 1.85 million - more than the 1.7 million who voted in 2016 and 1.75 million in 2008. - REUTERS