A reinvigorated Joe Biden has a nine state Super Tuesday victory haul, capped by topping Sen. Bernie Sanders for an upset victory in Texas after his comeback campaign transformed the Democratic presidential race.
Just four days ago, the former vice president’s White House hopes were fading fast. Now, he has hugely overperformed expectations on the most critical night of the 2020 race so far and the duel for the nomination is becoming a head-to-head with the democratic socialist from Vermont.
Biden grabbed highly significant victories in Virginia and North Carolina early in the night that suggested he is building a robust coalition, and added wins across the South — where his strength among African American voters is a big advantage — in Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Tennessee, according to CNN projections.
But he also took chunks out of territory that had been expected to lean to Sanders. He won Minnesota, CNN projects, suggesting that home state Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who quit the race Monday and endorsed him, may have played a pivotal role. He also upset Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts, a massive blow to Warren in her home state.
And in a late developing story, Sanders and Biden are neck-and-neck in Texas with 60% of the vote counted. Even if Sanders hangs on to a state his campaign expected to win, owing to his strong ties to Hispanic voters, the tight nature of race means he will not get the wide advantage in the delegate count for which he had hoped.
Sanders is leading in California — the state with the most delegates on offer — though both Biden and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg could reach the viability threshold to win delegates and cut the size of his advantage.
It all represents a stunning turnaround for a candidate who launched the first of his presidential campaigns 33 years ago but had to wait until Saturday night for a first career-saving victory in South Carolina, which appears to have unleashed a torrent of momentum rarely seen in any presidential cycle.
“Folks, things are looking awful good. For those that have been knocked down, counted out, left behind, this is your campaign. Just a few days ago the press and the pundits declared the campaign dead!” a pumped-up Biden roared to a crowd in Los Angeles.
“It’s looking good, so I’m here to report we are very much alive. And make no mistake about it, this campaign will send Donald Trump packing.”
Sanders held serve in his home state of Vermont and later added Colorado and Utah, and his aides are predicting that the picture will become rosier for the progressive champion as votes are counted in Texas and California — the states with the biggest delegate hauls. CNN exit polls show Sanders is the early leader in the Golden State.
Biden and Sanders are also locked in a tight race in Maine.
Sanders told a raucous crowd in his home state that his campaign was still on a roll on a night when a third of all pledged delegates to the Democratic National Convention in July are on the ballot in 14 states.
“Tonight I tell you with absolute confidence we are going to win the Democratic nomination and we are going to defeat the most dangerous President in the history of this country,” he said.
Super Tuesday projections and results suggested a disappointing night could be in store for Bloomberg and Warren, who both need to make a statement to have a rationale for staying in the race. As votes are counted, both rivals were looking to vault the 15% threshold needed to win delegates in several states.