The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Another Tuesday, another wake-up call for Bernie Sanders?

Former vice president Joe Biden in Flint, Mich., on Monday. (Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters)

We have reached another delegate-packed primary Tuesday. Former vice president Joe Biden looks ready to clean up in Missouri, Mississippi and Michigan, which have a total of 229 delegates. (In Michigan, Biden leads in the RealClearPolitics averages 55 percent to 32 percent. This is in a state that Bernie Sanders won in the 2016 Democratic primary.) As he did during last week’s Super Tuesday contests, if Biden can also stay close in states where Sanders may do well (Idaho, North Dakota and Washington, which combined have 123 delegates), his momentum will continue to build. Sanders’s whining about “corporate Democrats” and Biden’s billionaire backers looks more ridiculous with each loss.

Biden still has a way to go before clinching the nomination. Nevertheless, a Sanders comeback looks unlikely; the former vice president has, in essence, captured all the key Democratic constituencies (e.g., African Americans, women, working-class voters, college-educated whites). It would take something earthshaking to change the trajectory of the race.

As it was for Barack Obama in 2008 and for Hillary Clinton in 2016, the calendar and proportional allocation of delegates favors the leader. A week from today, delegate-rich states where Biden likely will do well include Ohio (136 delegates), Illinois (155) and Florida (219). Biden should not take debate preparation for Sunday lightly nor ease up on his campaigns and endorsement, but one can imagine him essentially slamming the door on Sanders in the next few weeks.

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Nationally, as things stand, the news is quite positive for Biden. A Quinnipiac poll released Monday shows Biden with 54 percent among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, with only 35 percent for Sanders. (This is in line with Monday’s CNN poll showing Biden up 52 percent to 36 percent.) Biden is viewed as more electable and enjoys a larger net-favorable rating than Sanders.

One in five children are struggling with hunger in S.C. Kia Jones, a North Charleston, S.C. bus driver, says she wants politicians to pay attention. (Video: The Washington Post)

When it comes to the general election, Democrats’ anxiety should diminish. Per Quinnipiac: “Biden gets support from more than half of registered voters against the incumbent president, while Sanders does not. Biden leads Trump 52-41 percent, and Sanders leads Trump 49-42 percent.” Biden has a commanding lead among women, white women (who went narrowly for Trump in 2016), whites with college degrees, young voters (not a strong suit for Biden in the primaries) and nonwhite voters. Trump leads with two groups: White men (58/34) and whites with no college degree (59/35).

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Trump has spent more than three years playing to his largely white and male base, ginning up resentment, racism, xenophobia and misogyny. He has managed to turn off most everyone else. The president and his right-wing media sycophants may delude themselves by watching his cult (partially) fill an arena but, increasingly, Trump and his cult members are in a feedback loop wherein they are talking almost exclusively to one another.

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Biden has been seeking to make the widest possible appeal to Democrats, independents and even soft Republicans — and it shows. Biden’s overall favorability (45/40) greatly exceeds Sanders (40/46) and Trump (39/58). Perhaps most important, when we are experiencing a health and economic catastrophe, Biden is viewed by 56 percent as the more capable to handle a crisis; only 40 percent choose Trump.

Henry Olsen

counterpointBiden’s MAGA speech was designed to protect Democrats, not democracy

Biden can take another big step toward the nomination Tuesday, which was the last thing Trump wanted. He’s right: Biden was and is his most formidable opponent.

Read more:

Henry Olsen: Why the GOP didn’t unite against Trump the way Democrats have against Sanders

Jonathan Capehart: Why Kamala Harris waited for Warren to exit the race before endorsing Biden

Fred Hiatt: Biden will pick a woman as his running mate. But who?

E.J. Dionne Jr: Elizabeth Warren isn’t finished. Her ideas won’t go away, and neither will she.

David Byler: Who can win the Democratic primary?