Sanders's path narrows as losses mount

Sanders's path narrows as losses mount
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Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden wins DC primary Biden wins Montana primary Biden wins New Mexico primary MORE (I-Vt.) slipped further behind former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenFox News polls: Trump trails Biden in Ohio, Arizona and Wisconsin Kelly holds double-digit lead over McSally in Arizona: poll Obama calls for police reforms, doesn't address Trump MORE in the race for the Democratic nomination for president on Tuesday, all but certainly closing his path to a first-ballot victory at the party's convention in Milwaukee.

Early results showed Biden winning Mississippi, Missouri and, crucially, Michigan, a state that revived Sanders's long-shot bid against Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden opens widest lead over Trump in online betting markets Trump, Biden battle to shape opinion on scenes of unrest Sessions accepts 'Fox News Sunday' invitation to debate, Tuberville declines MORE in 2016.

Biden led in Idaho, and the two front-running candidates were neck and neck in Washington, though The Associated Press had not yet called those races. Sanders led a firehouse caucus in North Dakota, the smallest state on the docket Tuesday.

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Biden's wins in the biggest states up for grabs on Tuesday represented the latest blow to a Sanders campaign that had counted on a fractured Democratic field lasting late into the primary season.

Instead, moderates and mainstream liberals began to coalesce around Biden after the South Carolina primary 10 days ago, when Biden's decisive win convinced both former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegBiden hopes to pick VP by Aug. 1 It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Here's how Biden can win over the minority vote and the Rust Belt MORE and Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: Conspiracy theories run rampant online amid Floyd protests | First lawsuit filed against Trump social media order | Snapchat to no longer promote Trump's account Derek Chauvin charge upgraded to second-degree murder; other officers charged Democratic lawmakers push leadership to ensure college students have internet access MORE (D-Minn.) to exit the race ahead of Super Tuesday.

Buttigieg and Klobuchar endorsed Biden, who went on to sweep 10 of 14 contests held on Super Tuesday. In the days that followed, he has further consolidated the once-divided Democratic field, winning endorsements from Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisRand Paul holding up quick passage of anti-lynching bill Minority caucuses call for quick action on police reform Markey, Harris, Booker to introduce resolution calling for elimination of qualified immunity MORE (D-Calif.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerRand Paul holding up quick passage of anti-lynching bill Minority caucuses call for quick action on police reform It's time to shut down industrial animal farming MORE (D-N.J.). On Tuesday, after it became clear Biden was headed for victory, entrepreneur Andrew YangAndrew YangAndrew Yang discusses his universal basic income pilot program Andrew Yang on the George Floyd protests in Minneapolis McConnell challenger on how Yang endorsement could help him MORE, a Sanders supporter in 2016, said he would back Biden.

In a victory speech Tuesday, Biden seemed to begin the process of uniting a fractured party around his candidacy with sympathetic words toward Sanders supporters.

"I want to thank Bernie Sanders and his supporters for their tireless energy and their passion. We share a common goal, and together we'll defeat Donald Trump," Biden said at a small gathering in Philadelphia.

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Sanders did not address the media or supporters on Tuesday.

Sanders has cast himself as the candidate best able to turn out a swath of new voters necessary to beat President TrumpDonald John TrumpFormer employees critique EPA under Trump in new report Fired State Department watchdog says Pompeo aide attempted to 'bully' him over investigations Virginia senator calls for Barr to resign over order to clear protests MORE in November, but his campaign has shown little ability to add to the coalition it built in 2016. Michigan is the fourth state Sanders has lost this year after winning it in 2016, along with Oklahoma, Minnesota and Maine.

Sanders also won caucuses in Washington and Idaho in 2016 — both states that have since transitioned their nominating contests to primaries.

He has won California, though his margins over Biden have shrunk to about 7 percentage points with 2.4 million ballots left to count, and Nevada, where Clinton narrowly edged him in 2016.

There are few signs that Sanders is adding a huge number of new voters to the Democratic electorate. Most states that have voted so far have shown no substantial growth among younger voters. On Tuesday, only 17 percent of Michigan voters said they were casting their first ballot in a Democratic primary — and among those voters, Sanders led Biden by only a 52 percent to 44 percent margin, according to early exit polls.

Instead, the Democratic electorate seems to have consolidated around Biden as the answer to the most pressing question they face: Who is best equipped to beat Trump in November?

In Michigan, 57 percent of Democratic primary voters said their party should nominate someone who can beat Trump in November, and Biden beat Sanders among those voters by an almost 2-to-1 margin. In Washington, almost 7 in 10 Democrats wanted their party to pick a candidate who could beat Trump over a candidate who agrees with them on most issues, and Biden again took those voters by a more than 2-to-1 margin, exit polls showed.

Even before the final delegates have been allocated from Super Tuesday, the results a week later showed Biden increasing his lead in the race for delegates over Sanders. Biden was on pace to claim 28 of Mississippi's 31 pledged delegates, 38 of Missouri's 59 pledged delegates and a clear majority in each of Michigan's 14 congressional districts.

The early results put Biden 150 delegates ahead of Sanders and more than 40 percent of the way to the outright majority of delegates he would need to win the Democratic nomination outright. To climb back, projections showed Sanders would have to win more than 56 percent of the remaining delegates up for grabs before the Milwaukee convention, a herculean task even before voters started breaking heavily toward Biden.

What's worse for Sanders is that the calendar in the immediate future becomes only more difficult for him. The next round of Tuesday contests feature two contests that are likely to break for Biden, in Arizona and Florida. Polls in both of those states show Biden easily lapping Sanders in support.

That leaves Sanders banking on next Tuesday's other two contests, in Illinois and Ohio. Prominent elected officials in both states have flocked to Biden in recent days, a sign that the party continues to coalesce around its newfound front-runner.

Both Biden and Sanders had planned to stump in Cleveland on Tuesday, after the polls closed in other states, but both campaigns canceled their rallies after warnings about spreading the coronavirus.