Despite the metastasizing disruption caused by the coronavirus, four delegate-heavy states will hold their primaries on Tuesday. Ohio (136), Illinois (155), Arizona (67) and Florida (219) collectively will allocate 577 delegates. Former vice president Joe Biden leads by double digits in polling in all four states. He therefore almost certainly will extend his current delegate lead (890-736).
This raises the question as to whether Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) intends to remain in the race after Tuesday. He said previously, “I’m not a masochist who wants to stay in the race that can’t be won.” Some might have concluded we reached that point after Biden drubbed Sanders last week, winning Missouri, Mississippi, Idaho and Michigan while leading in Washington with 94 percent of the votes counted.
If Sanders loses all four races this week, will he get the hint and back out? The question has more urgency given that Georgia has postponed its primary originally scheduled for March 24. The next primary is currently set for March 29 in Puerto Rico, but the potential for delay remains. Indeed, as some states choose to postpone their primaries, the process would be drawn out even further should Sanders continue his campaign. By ending his race and conceding to Biden, Sanders can initiate the process of unification and planning for Biden’s general-election race. Once Biden becomes the presumptive winner, states that truly are under siege could reschedule their primaries, perhaps formulating a national primary date for all remaining states in May.
The Biden team certainly would like to begin staffing up for the general election and planning for the distinct possibility that there will be no in-person convention. The latter would necessitate a Democratic National Committee rule change. The logistics of such an effort would be daunting. (Would state delegates be able to meet in their home states, or will nearly 4,000 delegates “attend” from the safety of their own homes? What access will be afforded to the media?)
Moreover, the DNC should be making a full-court press now to arrange for no-excuse voting by mail in all 50 states for November (and for primary races for House, Senate and state races). Failure to do so would mean thousands or even millions of people might be effectively disenfranchised depending on the status of the pandemic and the condition of those who might have contracted the virus (as well as their family members who are caring for them). Foot-dragging by the Republicans — whose mission in recent years has been to make voting harder (thereby suppressing the votes of those they think are likely to vote for Democrats) — must cease. Their own voters will be just as likely to be affected, so it would make little sense for them to oppose one uniform system of mail-in ballots.
None of this planning is possible so long as Sanders maintains the pretense that the race is still active. Sanders, once more at risk of becoming the poster boy for sour grapes, would be well advised to stop taking money from donors, to stop inducing volunteers to door-knock and conduct other campaign activities, and to get on with the task of unifying the party and preparing for what is surely to be the weirdest general presidential election in history.
Jennifer Rubin: After this debate, what possible rationale does Bernie Sanders have for staying in the race?
Bernie Sanders: More opinions on the 2020 candidate
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- Deficit hawks once again show their hypocrisy on military spending
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Explore recent columns from Post opinion writers:
- Nathan Robinson: Why Sanders should keep fighting
- Jennifer Rubin: What’s the moral justification for Sanders fruitless campaign?
- Helaine Olen: Bernie Sanders has won more than you think
- David Byler: Sanders should drop out of the Democratic primary for the sake of public health
- Dana Milbank: The Sanders revolution has stalled
- Katrina vanden Heuvel: Get ready for the anti-Sanders media avalanche
- Henry Olsen: The GOP would never have united to stop Trump like Democrats did with Sanders
- Megan McArdle: The Berniemobile is filling up with Realist-Idealists, Revolutionaries and Bandwagoners
See The Post’s View from a recent editorial: Bernie Sanders shifts his tone, but will it last?
Get more information on Sanders’s candidacy and policy positions.
How are Warren and other candidates faring in the Post Pundit 2020 Power Ranking? Here’s the latest installment.
Want more on the 2020 elections? See all of The Post’s coverage.