Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHaiti prime minister warns inequality will cause migration to continue Pelosi: House must pass 3 major pieces of spending legislation this week Erdoğan says Turkey plans to buy another Russian defense system MORE scored a decisive victory in Florida on Tuesday, trouncing Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersIn Washington, the road almost never taken Don't let partisan politics impede Texas' economic recovery The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble MORE (I-Vt.) in the country’s third-most populous state and a critical general election battleground.
The race in Florida was a blowout for Biden. With about 76 percent of precincts reporting, the former vice president led Sanders by nearly 40 percentage points.
Heading into Tuesday’s primary, which took place amid coronavirus fears, there was little doubt that Biden would capture Florida and a large portion of its 219 pledged delegates.
His victory is likely to bolster his argument that he is the candidate best equipped to win in a state that President TrumpDonald TrumpGraham says he hopes that Trump runs again Trump says Stacey Abrams 'might be better than existing governor' Kemp Executive privilege fight poses hurdles for Trump MORE narrowly won in the 2016 general election.
Sanders, for his part, was not expecting a win in Florida, a state that he lost in his 2016 primary bid against Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats worry negative images are defining White House Heller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll MORE by more than 30 points. But his political fortunes in the state on Tuesday fared even worse than they did four years ago.
Biden was on track to beat Sanders in a handful of counties — mostly in North Florida and the Panhandle — that the Vermont senator won in 2016.
The primary electorate on Tuesday was largely favorable to Biden. Black and Hispanic voters made up about half of those who cast ballots in the nominating contest, and self-described moderates accounted for a plurality of the vote, according to exit polling.
Biden also won Illinois, a race that was called soon after Florida was projected to go to Biden.
Arizona is the third state voting on Tuesday, with polls set to close at 10 p.m. ET. Biden is favored to win the state as well.
Florida, however, holds symbolic value in the race. Not only is it the nation’s largest and most volatile swing state in general elections, but it is nominally President Trump’s home state. The president, who owns several properties in Florida, claimed residency status there last year.
Updated at 8:31 p.m.