DETROIT (Reuters) – Joe Biden won the crucial Democratic nomination contest for Michigan on Tuesday, taking a big step towards the party’s presidential nomination and dealing a blow to Bernie Sanders’ devaluing White House offer.
Biden, a former vice president under Barack Obama, also captured Missouri and Mississippi on a day when six states made their choices in the race to choose a challenger for Republican President Donald Trump.
Tuesday’s victories put Biden, 77, on the road to nomination to face Trump in the November 3 elections, effectively closing the path for Sanders, 78, who hoped for a shocked victory in Michigan to keep his White House down. hope alive.
Sanders’ disappointing performance in a state that won in the 2016 Democratic primary will increase pressure on the socialist and Democratic senator from Vermont to get out of the race and help the Democrats prepare for a blunt general election campaign against Trump.
Speaking in Philadelphia, Biden thanked Sanders and his supporters for their passion and launched an appeal for party unity.
“We share a common goal and together we will defeat Donald Trump,” he said.
Sanders, who returned home to Vermont on Tuesday evening, has not planned a public statement.
With 61% of the fence reports, Biden led Michigan with 53% of the votes, against 39% for Sanders. Edison Research predicted that the primary turnout of 1.7 million would exceed the 1.2 million who voted in 2016.
Michigan was the most competitive of the six states that held nomination races on Tuesday, which also included Washington, North Dakota and Idaho. With 125 delegates, it offers the highest number of at least 1,991 delegates needed by a candidate to secure the appointment.
It is also a crucial state of the battlefield that Trump won with just over 10,000 votes, an unexpected victory which along with the victories in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin pushed his rise to the White House.
Biden’s turn in Michigan, along with his dominant victories in Missouri and Mississippi, may be too much for Sanders to overcome. By the end of March, around two thirds of delegates will be assigned.
“Mathematics says Joe is our prohibitive candidate. We have to get the party together, ”said former presidential candidate Andrew Yang at CNN while approving Biden.
Voters from the United States who voted Tuesday said they trust Biden more to handle a severe 2-to-1 crisis on Sanders, Edison Research’s exit polls showed, a possible sign that the fast-spreading coronavirus has helped to increase Biden’s appeal as a steady and expert hand.
In Washington, the state hit hardest by the coronavirus and the second largest state to vote on Tuesday, eight out of 10 voters expressed concern about the effects of the epidemic, with a plurality supporting Biden, according to polls.
Biden was fueled to victory on Tuesday by strong support from a large coalition of groups, including women, African Americans, over the age of 45, union members and all but the most liberal, according to polls out.
In Michigan, he did well with union members and white working-class voters, two groups who helped Sanders achieve a shocked victory for Hillary Clinton in the state in 2016, but this time he didn’t turn out to be as strong for him. despite Sanders’ economic populism and his demand for universal health care.
Sanders won over most voters under the age of 30 in Michigan, Missouri and Mississippi, but that group had less impact on the results this year. Voters between the ages of 18 and 29 made up 12% of the primary democratic electorate in Missouri, 10% in Mississippi and 15% in Michigan, down at least 4 percentage points in each state since 2016.
Biden, who had touted the Obama administration’s decision to save the state’s dominant auto industry, made a morning stop Tuesday in Detroit’s first new auto assembly plant in decades, owned by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV.
“The unions built the country,” Biden shouted through a megaphone. “You are the best cursed workers in the world.”
Sanders had attacked Biden for his support for international trade agreements such as the 1994 North American free trade agreement, which is unpopular in Michigan, where workers claim that it cost state jobs. But the argument seemed to take a few steps forward in a party that seemed to have decided on Biden.
As in previous states, Biden’s support has been particularly strong among black voters. In Mississippi, where two thirds of the electorate was African American, Biden won more than eight black voters for every 10.
A total of 352 of the nearly 4,000 delegates to the July Democratic convention were at stake in the six states that voted on Tuesday.
To date, Biden had won 85 delegates at Sanders’ 31. This allowed him to gain an overall lead over Sanders of 713-576 in the race for the 1,991 delegates required for the nomination.
Two of the largest Democratic Super PACS said they would start working for Biden. American Bridge President Bradley Beychok has announced that the group has planned a $ 2.2 million ad purchase in Pennsylvania for Biden.
“The math is now clear. Joe Biden will be the Democratic candidate, “Priority Guy Guy Guy Cecil said Twitter Twitter, saying the group” would do whatever it takes to help him defeat Donald Trump. ”
Both candidates canceled the rallies scheduled in Cleveland on Tuesday due to concerns about the coronavirus epidemic, which shook the markets and prompted Democrats to criticize the Trump administration’s response.
The campaigns claimed that they were following the directions of Ohio’s public health officials. So far, Democratic candidates and Trump, 73, have continued to hold large-scale events despite the outbreak.
Reporting by Michael Martina, John Whitesides and Trevor Hunnicutt; Additional reports from Doina Chiacu, Ginger Gibson and Chris Kahn in Washington; Written by John Whitesides in Washington; Editing by Soyoung Kim, Howard Goller and Peter Cooney