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How Joe Biden could build on his delegate advantage Tuesday night

Super Tuesdays in March have been quite kind to former Vice President Joe Biden.

Biden will likely continue his winning streak in Tuesday’s contests in Arizona, Florida and Illinois that will award 441 delegates total.

Polls and the 2016 primary results show Biden is heavily favored in all three primaries, meaning he could build an almost insurmountable delegate advantage tonight.

I should say the coronavirus crisis may make it more likely than normal that the polls will be off. Turnout could be lower than normal. Turnout in French elections, for example, was historically low on Sunday. It’s not clear how low turnout could impact the outcome, if it occurs here. According to the polls, Biden has already built a substantial lead amongst those who have voted before Election Day.

Still, Biden currently has an about 150 delegate lead nationally over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. That should balloon up to north of 310 delegates, if the polling for Tuesday’s primaries is anywhere close to accurate. Such an advantage is huge when all delegates (3,979 in total) are allocated proportionally, as the Democrats do. No one in history has come back from such a deficit in pledged delegates.

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Biden’s biggest delegate haul will likely come from Florida. A University of Northern Florida poll last week put Biden up by 44 points. With 219 delegates at stake in the Sunshine State, Biden will likely expand his delegate advantage by a ton from here alone.

Biden is also expected to do well in Illinois. Biden’s up near 30 points in the average Illinois poll. Although Biden won’t do nearly as well as he did in Florida, the state’s 155 delegates mean Biden will make a big haul here, as well.

Biden’s worst state will probably be Arizona. Biden’s done relatively poorly in the southwest, though his national momentum should help him out. Polls out on Monday from Marist College/NBC News and Monmouth University give Biden a 17 and 20 point lead. The average poll puts him up a little more than 20 points. Since Arizona has a relatively little 67 delegates, Biden’s delegate here should be the smallest of any of the three states. Still, it should easily reach double digits.

If the expectations for Tuesday end up being correct, Sanders would need more than a miracle to come back in this race. It’s not just that Biden’s delegate lead would be large — it’s that a little more than 58% of the delegates will already have been awarded.

Sanders would need to win in the remaining contests by around 19 points to move into a tie with Biden in terms of delegates. The problem is that the states left to vote are likely to favor Biden by more than those that will have already voted after Tuesday.

In our last CNN/SSRS national poll among voters who responded after Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren departed the race, Biden held a 31-point lead in states where a primary will not have taken place by Tuesday. That’s about double the lead Biden had in the states that will have voted by Tuesday.

Put another way, Sanders would have to do about 50 points better in the remaining states than the polls currently have him doing in order to catch up. That’s just not feasible, unless something truly unforeseen happens.

Article Topic Follows: Politics

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