Democracy 2020 Digest: Biden gives Sanders brutal reality check on closing path to nomination

Democracy 2020 Digest: Biden gives Sanders brutal reality check on closing path to nomination

As Sen. Bernie Sanders takes time to “assess” his Democratic presidential nomination run after suffering more crushing setbacks in Tuesday’s primaries, Joe Biden’s campaign is spotlighting the former vice president’s “decisive” victories and illustrating how Vermont senator’s path to the nomination has all but closed.

In a campaign memo widely distributed on Wednesday, Biden’s campaign touted that the former vice president topped Sanders by 39 percentage points in Florida and won every county in that state’s primary.


Biden’s landslide in Florida, his crushing defeat of Sanders in Illinois, and his win in Arizona cemented his status as the presumptive Democratic nominee and boosted his all-important convention delegate lead over Sanders to nearly 300.

Deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield spotlighted that “Biden expanded his broad coalition to include new constituencies: Latinos, young voters, and more progressive parts of the Democratic party.”

She contrasted the 2020 race with the two most recent contested Democratic presidential primaries.

“This primary is nowhere near as close as the 2008 and 2016 Democratic primaries. In 2016 Secretary Clinton did not open a 320+ delegate lead until the California primary on June 7, 2016. And at this point in 2008, President Obama had [about a] 100 delegate lead. Biden’s lead is three times that” Bedingfield noted.

And pointing to progressive senator who’s making his second straight Democratic nomination bid, she emphasized, “In order to close the delegate deficit he faces, Senator Sanders would need to win every remaining contest by roughly 40 points.  That would require reaching 70 percent support, which is double his current national polling average of 35 percent.”

Biden’s big lead in Georgia

Sanders’ campaign said the senator was heading back to his home state of Vermont later Wednesday – after the Senate voted on a massive coronavirus relief bill – to begin “holding conversations with supporters to get input and assess the path forward for our campaign.”

A new poll in the state that was on deck in the primary calendar puts Biden ahead of Sanders by a three-to-one margin. According to a survey for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Biden stood at 66 percent support among likely Democratic primary voters in Georgia, with Sanders at 22 percent.

Georgia was scheduled to hold its primary next Tuesday, March 24. But  with the coronavirus pandemic spreading across the nation, officials postponed the contest for two months. Many of the states with upcoming primaries and caucuses are pushing back the dates of their contests – with other states very likely to follow.

Biden vs. Trump poll position

With Biden the all-but-certain presumptive nominee, a quick transition from the primary battle to a general election showdown with President Trump will likely soon occur.

The most recent national polls conducted by live telephone operators indicate that Biden starts the race with Trump with the advantage. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll indicated Biden with a nine point advantage over the president – with CNN suggesting the former vice president holding a 10-point lead over Trump.

But the race for the White House is not a national popular vote. If that were the case, then Hillary Clinton would be president. Instead, the presidential election is a battle for the states and their electoral votes.

And a look at the latest live operator polling in some of the key battleground states spotlights much closer contest appears.

An NBC News/Marist poll in Ohio suggests Biden with a 49-45 percent edge. In Arizona, an NBC/Marist survey indicates the race basically deadlocked – with Biden at 47 percent support and the president at 46 percent. A Monmouth University poll in Arizona shows Biden with a slight 3 point lead.

The latest poll in Michigan, from Monmouth University, puts Biden up over Trump 48-41 percent.

In 2016, Trump narrowly edged out Clinton in Michigan and two other reliably blue states – Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – boosting the GOP nominee into the White House.

In Iowa, a Des Moines Register survey put Trump up by 10 points over Biden.

New surveys in Virginia and North Carolina suggest Biden has the slight edge, while a new poll in Florida – the largest of the swing states – shows the president with a small advantage.

Take all these polls with plenty of skepticism. It’s very early, the primary battle is technically not over, and the coronavirus outbreak will have a major impact – one way or another — on public opinion in the race for the White House.

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