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Joe Biden won the Missouri and Mississippi primaries, dealing Bernie Sanders another defeat and widening his lead in the Democratic presidential nomination race. Bloomberg News reports that “the two states were the first of six holding primaries on Tuesday as Democratic voters were making their first either-or choice between the two candidates still vying to challenge President Donald Trump in November.”

Key notes

  • Biden, the former vice president, was expected to sweep most of the states voting Tuesday, based on polling ahead of the vote.
  • The most significant is Michigan, which has one-third of the 352 delegates at stake on Tuesday and will be a pivotal general election state in November.
  • Heading into Tuesday Biden was leading there by 23 percentage points in the RealClearPolitics average of polls.
  • In Missouri, polling places were relocated from spots where older people gather, like assisted living facilities. 
  • Sanders won Michigan’s primary in an upset over eventual nominee Hillary Clinton four years ago and needs a victory there to revive his candidacy after losing 10 of the 14 states that voted on Super Tuesday.
  • Biden focused on rallying black voters, who he needs not only in Michigan but in Missouri and Mississippi as well. But he also managed expectations, noting that Clinton polled ahead in Michigan before Sanders won in 2016.
  • While battling for Michigan, Sanders is hoping for strong performances in western states where he has done well this year and hopes to pick up delegates in Idaho, North Dakota and Washington. He won those states in 2016.
  • Next week the race turns to four states awarding 577 delegates. A Sanders win in Michigan could enhance his chances in the Midwestern states of Illinois and Ohio. Biden is leading in recent polling in Arizona and Florida.
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