Joe Biden scored decisive primary victories in Michigan and three other states on Tuesday, taking a big step toward the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination and casting doubt on the future of rival Bernie Sanders’ fading White House bid.
The sweeping wins put Biden, 77, on a path to face Republican Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 election, and the former vice president quickly looked ahead with a call for party unity and an appeal to supporters of Sanders.
“We share a common goal, and together we are going to defeat Donald Trump,” Biden said in Philadelphia, thanking Sanders and his supporters for their energy and passion.
Biden’s wins in Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi and Idaho were powered by a broad coalition of supporters, including women, African Americans, those with and without college degrees, older voters, union members and all but the very liberal, according to exit polls by Edison Research.
Two other states, Washington and North Dakota, were still too close to call, but the results narrowed the path forward for Sanders, 78, who had hoped for an upset win in Michigan to keep his White House hopes alive.
The loss in a state Sanders won during his 2016 White House campaign will increase the pressure on the democratic socialist senator from Vermont to exit the race and help Democrats prepare for a bruising campaign against Trump.
With 91% of the precincts reporting, Biden had 53% of the vote in Michigan, well ahead of Sanders’ 37%. He also won Missouri and Mississippi with 60% and 81% of the vote, respectively.
Sanders, who returned home to Vermont on Tuesday night, did not make a public statement after his losses, a departure from his usual practice on primary nights.
Voters across the states that voted on Tuesday said they trusted Biden more to handle a major crisis by roughly 2-to-1 over Sanders, exit polls showed, a possible sign the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak helped increase Biden’s appeal as a steady and experienced hand.