Biden ran up a huge lead in the Midwest, East and South and then, thanks to the proportional allocation system, is estimated to still get over 140 delegates out of California. He leads in the cumulative national popular vote by about 900,000.
There is more good news for Biden, aside from the money that is now flowing freely into his campaign war chest ($15 million in the first three days of the month). Momentum is a real thing in presidential primaries — and Biden has it.
In the Reuters/Ipsos poll released Thursday and conducted in the two days after Super Tuesday, Biden garnered 45 percent of registered Democratic voters, Sanders 32 percent. (Sen. Elizabeth Warren, still in the race at the time, got 11 percent, but her supporters may divide rather evenly between the top two remaining candidates.) Including Democratic-leaning independents, Biden takes 55 percent, Sanders 45 percent.
Florida’s primary, scheduled for March 17, will award 219 pledged delegates. Biden was ahead by a mile in the recent St. Pete poll with 61 percent of the vote to Sanders’s approximately 12 percent. Mike Bloomberg, still in the race when the poll was taken, had 13.5 percent, support that most likely will flow to Biden, whom Bloomberg has endorsed and will help fund.
The ground has shifted as one Democrat after another (including Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer) has endorsed Biden. By contrast, Sanders did not get Warren’s support on Thursday when she dropped out. She can see which way the wind is blowing, as well.
Biden also looks to do well in next Tuesday’s states including Michigan, Missouri and Mississippi (adding up to 229 delegates) while states in which Sanders may do better (North Dakota, Washington and Idaho) total just 123 delegates.
With just two candidates competing for delegates, the chance Biden could get an outright majority, not merely a plurality, before the convention increases. As Nate Cohn noted in the New York Times, “The rest of the country may be even less favorable to Mr. Sanders. With Texas and California off the board, most of the remaining populous states lie in the East, where Mr. Sanders tended to lose, often badly. They also tend to have a below-average Latino share of the vote.”
Biden does not yet have this in the bag. However, few could have imagined before South Carolina that he would be in the catbird seat. It is even possible that he might effectively sew this up on March 17 when delegate-rich states Florida, Ohio, Illinois and Arizona (adding up to 577 delegates) weigh in. At that point, more than 60 percent of the delegates will have been awarded.
Sanders can scream “corporate Democrats” all he likes, but his problem is plain, ordinary Democrats who seem to be trying to put the nomination to bed early and decisively. Biden may be as surprised as anyone at the speed by which the primary landscape has shifted.