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Black voters propel Biden to big wins in Virginia, NC, Alabama

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden administration still seizing land near border despite plans to stop building wall: report Olympics, climate on the agenda for Biden meeting with Japanese PM Boehner on Afghanistan: 'It's time to pull out the troops' MORE is off to a strong Super Tuesday start after he was declared the winner of the Virginia, North Carolina and Alabama primaries by networks immediately as polls closed in both states.

Exit polls suggested Biden was bolstered by heavy support from African American voters, a development that had previously boosted him in South Carolina and portends well for his chances in other Southern states holding primaries Tuesday.

Polls had shown a tight race between Biden and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders: Trump was right about 'trying to end endless wars' Democrats battle over best path for Puerto Rico Bernie Sanders says he disagrees with Tlaib's call for 'no more police' MORE (I-Vt.) in Virginia and North Carolina as recently as last week.

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But Biden’s big victory in South Carolina gave him a burst of momentum that could help blunt the advantage Sanders likely will have when polls close in California later tonight.

Biden was boosted by a string of endorsements from high-profile Virginians, including Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineSenators reintroduce bill to block NATO withdrawal Democrats back up Biden bid to return to Iran nuclear deal Overnight Defense: Congress looks to rein in Biden's war powers | Diversity chief at Special Operations Command reassigned during probe into social media posts MORE (D), former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), and Democratic Reps. Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottDemocrats target Trump methane rule with Congressional Review Act Senators eye rollback of Trump methane rule with Congressional Review Act To Build Back Better, Biden must invest in modern apprenticeship system MORE, Jennifer WextonJennifer Lynn WextonTrump the X-factor in Virginia governor race Xinjiang forced labor complex is growing — President Biden should work with Congress to curb it Acting chief acknowledges police were unprepared for mob MORE and Don Beyer. 

And he’s benefiting from strong support among African Americans, taking more than 70 percent support among black voters in Alabama. Alabama is more than 40 percent black and has the largest population of black voters out of all the Super Tuesday states.

Exit polls in Virginia showed Biden taking about 66 percent support among black voters there as well.

The Democratic electorates in Virginia and North Carolina, as well as states across the Deep South, are more than a quarter black, according to exit polls.

In 2016, Sanders failed to win any state that had a black population of more than 21 percent, and that dynamic appears to be hampering him on Super Tuesday.

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Sanders, however, has strong support from Latinos, who helped him to a big victory in the Nevada caucuses. That could come into play later tonight in California and Texas, the two largest delegate hauls of the primary season.

Biden’s victories in Virginia and North Carolina are also harmful to former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergHolder, Yates lead letter backing Biden pick for Civil Rights Division at DOJ The truth behind companies' 'net zero' climate commitments The strategy Biden needs to pass his infrastructure plan MORE, who launched his campaign after becoming worried that Biden looked like a weak front-runner.

Bloomberg invested and campaigned heavily in Virginia, visiting it more than any other Super Tuesday state. He spent more than $12 million in North Carolina.

Now Biden stands to win at least a plurality of North Carolina’s 110 delegates and Virginia’s 99. 

Sanders, meanwhile, easily won the primary in his home state of Vermont, where 16 delegates were up for grabs.

Polls are still open in California, where 415 delegates are at stake, and Texas, which accounts for 228 delegates. 

Sanders will be looking to run up the score in California, the largest delegate prize on the map.

All told, about 1,300 delegates will be awarded Tuesday, accounting for about one-third of all pledged delegates up for grabs. 

A candidate must win 1,991 delegates to clinch the Democratic presidential nomination.

Updated at 8:07 p.m.