WASHINGTON, DC -- Joe Biden won Michigan’s Democratic primary on Tuesday night, seizing a key battleground state that helped propel Bernie Sanders’ insurgent candidacy four years ago.
The former vice president's victory in Michigan, as well as in Missouri, Mississippi and Idaho, dealt a serious blow to Sanders, who was urgently seeking to jump-start his flagging campaign.
Sanders could still get a small boost as results come in from North Dakota and Washington state.
The Associated Press late Tuesday night said the primary in Washington state was too close to call. A winner was not expected before the morning.
In North Dakota, only 2,200 votes - all mail-in - had been counted as of late Tuesday night; they had not begun to release any election day vote tallies.
Biden, focused on unifying Democrats in an address to supporters after his primary wins on Tuesday night, said he and Sanders shared a common goal: defeating President Trump.
"We share a common goal, and together we'll defeat Donald Trump. We'll defeat him together,” Biden said. “We’re going to bring this nation together."
A top adviser said Sanders did not expect such a crushing defeat in Michigan. He was counting on Michigan to revive his campaign and show that his coalition could grow. “This was his path. Tonight was his path,” the adviser said. “It didn’t happen.”
Biden's decisive performance showed his strength with working-class voters and African Americans, according to exit polls in the states he won.
Although Sanders had rejected notions he would drop out of the race if Tuesday went badly, he acknowledged he was now battling the “Democratic establishment."
So what’s next? Advisers are not certain, saying it’s a decision that the senator and his wife, Jane, will make together.
But one key adviser, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Sanders was still intent on debating Biden on Sunday in Arizona. After that, it’s an open question, with a tough road of primaries ahead in the coming weeks.