Joe Biden keeps his winning streak alive and other takeaways from the March 10 primaries

WASHINGTON – It was another big night for Joe Biden.

Biden dominated Tuesday night’s primaries, sinking Bernie Sanders in several states the senator from Vermont won in 2016. Six states –Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Washington – had contests where 352 delegates were up for grabs.

Following his wins Tuesday, Biden has widened his delegate lead against Sanders and Sanders will need to play catch up next Tuesday, when another four states head to the polls.

Here are some key takeaways from Tuesday’s primaries:

Black voters, moderates, conservatives push Biden to victory

Minutes after polls closed in Mississippi and Missouri, Biden was projected as the winner of both states. The former vice president was later projected as the winner of Michigan.

All of the wins relied heavily on Biden’s support among black voters, as well as moderate and conservative voters.

According to exit polls from the Washington Post, 69% of black voters in Missouri supported Biden, 86% of Mississippi’s black voters went for Biden and 66% of black voters in Michigan backed Biden.

Biden also saw strong support from voters who identified themselves as moderates in Missouri, Michigan and Mississippi, according to exit polling reported by the Post

In Mississippi, Biden won 87% of moderate and conservative voters, with more than half of those voters making up the Democratic electorate in the state. Biden was also backed by 63% of moderate and conservative voters in both Michigan and Missouri, according to exit polls.

Those are the same groups of voters that helped push Biden to victory in South Carolina, as well as grab key wins on Super Tuesday in North Carolina, Virginia and Texas.

Biden acknowledged his early wins Tuesday night during remarks to a small group of supporters and members of the media in Philadelphia. Biden canceled an event scheduled for Tuesday night in Cleveland, as did Sanders.

“Although there is a way to go, it looks like we’re going to have another good night,” Biden said. He also noted his recent endorsements from Sens. Kamala Harris and Cory Booker.

“We’re bringing this party together,” the former vice president said. “That’s what we have to do.”

Sanders did not make any comments after polls closed Tuesday.

Support from Sanders’ base didn’t counter Biden’s wins

The Sanders message resonates with younger voters, and though his campaign hoped strong turnout from that group would carry him through primary states, it wasn’t enough Tuesday. 

In Missouri, voters between the ages of 18-29 made up about 15% of the electorate Tuesday, and Sanders won them by double digits. Sanders also won voters between the ages of 30 and 44. But Biden dominated among voters over the age of 45, who made up about 67% of the electorate Tuesday. 

In Michigan, more than 75% of voters age 18-29 who voted in-person (exit polls in this state exclude early voters) cast their vote for Sanders, and they were 16% of the electorate. But Biden again took the vote among the 45 and older demographic, which was 62% of the electorate.

In Mississippi, the youngest demographic of voters was ages 17-29, and 13% of the statewide vote came from that group. But Biden led with Mississippi’s young voters, leading Sanders 57%-39%. And Biden was favored by voters 30-44 and overwhelmingly supported by voters 45 and older.

Turnout percentage among young voters in all three states was either flat or down slightly from 2016

Sanders acknowledged that lackluster turnout among the youth vote hurt him after Super Tuesday last week, when young voters showed up to the polls at lower rates than they had in 2016:

“We’re making some progress but historically everybody knows that young people do not vote in the kind of numbers that older people vote,” he said.

Sanders has also done well this election with Latino and Hispanic voters, notably carrying Nevada by more than 30% over Biden with Latino voters. His dominance propelled him to a win in that state, where about 3 in 10 voters are Latino. But the states voting Tuesday had much smaller Latino populations. 

Looking at exit polling data, Latino Missourians made up just 3% of voters on Tuesday, not a significant enough population to break down detailed support for each candidate. The same was true of Latino Mississippi voters, who also made up 3% of the vote. In Michigan, Latinos made up 6% of day-of voters, and 55% of those voters supported Sanders. 

Biden outperforms Clinton, swings regions back from Sanders

Biden was able to seal big wins in states where Hillary Clinton either won small or lost in 2016. While Sanders sealed a win in Michigan in 2016 and kept Missouri competitive, that wasn’t the case this time around.

Sanders Tuesday fell behind in many of the counties that helped push him to victory in Michigan in 2016. In Luce County, for example, a rural county in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Biden won 57% support while Sanders is at 32.7%, with 75% of the county being reported. Comparatively, Sanders won that county 61.8% to Clinton’s 35.5%.

As the night wore on, Biden was leading in every single county in Michigan, Missouri and Mississippi. 

Democrats are also turning out a greater levels than in 2016, which appears to be benefitting Biden.

Turnout in the 2016 primaries wasn’t as high as 2008, which saw record turnout in several states. Thus far in the 2020 primary, turnout has been higher than 2016 and in some states, has even passed 2008 marks in some states. For example, more than 1.3 million voters in Virginia cast ballots compared to the roughly 800,000 four years ago.

However in the first four early voting states, turnout was a mixed bag. Although it was up slightly, it still didn’t reach the record levels of 2008. And compared 2016, there is also an increase of black and suburban voters coming out to vote, which is benefiting Biden.

Biden looks to be unifying the party in ways that Clinton struggled to in 2016. 

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