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Sanders's path narrows as losses mount

Sanders's path narrows as losses mount
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Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOn The Money: Senators push for changes as chamber nears vote on .9T relief bill | Warren offers bill to create wealth tax Sanders vows to force vote on minimum wage No. 2 Senate Democrat shoots down overruling parliamentarian on minimum wage MORE (I-Vt.) slipped further behind former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSenate Democrats negotiating changes to coronavirus bill Rural Americans are the future of the clean energy economy — policymakers must to catch up WHO official says it's 'premature' to think pandemic will be over by end of year 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 ClintonClinton: Allegations against Cuomo 'raise serious questions,' deserve probe Clinton, Pelosi holding online Women's Day fundraiser with Chrissy Teigen, Amanda Gorman Media circles wagons for conspiracy theorist Neera Tanden 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 ButtigiegHarris pushes for support for cities in coronavirus relief package Exclusive: How Obama went to bat for Warren The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden vs. Trump, part II MORE and Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharJuan Williams: Hypocrisy runs riot in GOP Open-ended antitrust is an innovation killer FBI, DHS and Pentagon officials to testify on Capitol riot 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 HarrisHarris pushes for support for cities in coronavirus relief package This week: Senate takes up coronavirus relief after minimum wage setback Brown vows Democrats will 'find a way' to raise minimum wage MORE (D-Calif.) and Cory BookerCory BookerAmazon manager sues company over racial discrimination, harassment allegations Obama says reparations 'justified' Congressional Black Caucus unveils '100 Day Plan' MORE (D-N.J.). On Tuesday, after it became clear Biden was headed for victory, entrepreneur Andrew YangAndrew YangDozens of famous men support ,400 monthly payments for mothers for 'unpaid labor at home' Yang intervenes after man threatened with metal pole on Staten Island Ferry NYC's largest union endorses Maya Wiley in mayoral race 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 TrumpProsecutors focus Trump Organization probe on company's financial officer: report WHO official says it's 'premature' to think pandemic will be over by end of year Romney released from hospital after fall over the weekend 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.