Biden has now gone 10-for-10 in Southern primaries; Trump clinches GOP nomination
♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor
MIAMI (CFP) — Former Vice President Joe Biden easily vanquished his last major Democratic rival, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, in Florida’s Democratic presidential primary Tuesday, in a race overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden took 62 percent of the vote, sweeping every one of the state’s 67 counties. Sanders took just 23 percent.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump’s victory in the state’s Republican primary, against minor opposition, put him across the delegate threshold to clinch his party’s 2020 nomination. The president changed his residency to Florida earlier last year.
Florida election officials opted to proceed with Tuesday’s primary despite the national coronavirus shutdown. The run-up to election day was subdued, with neither Democratic candidate holding any rallies or campaign events. Trump has also called a halt to rallies with his supporters.
Biden’s win in Florida was wide and deep, taking his string of Southern victories to 10. His delegate margin over Sanders from the Sunshine State alone was more than 80 delegates.
The closest Sanders came to Biden was in Alachua County, home to the University of Florida. where Biden won by 11 points. But Sanders was pummeled in the heavily Democratic counties in South Florida, failing to clear 20 percent of the vote in either Broward or Palm Beach counties and getting just 22 percent in Miami-Dade.
Despite the concerns about coronavirus, the total turnout of Democratic voters was 1.7 million, about the same as it was in 2016, when Sanders took 33 percent of the vote in a race against Hillary Clinton. However, Florida makes extensive use of early voting that was less impacted by the pandemic.
Sanders, who was in Washington as the Senate considers emergency legislation to deal with the pandemic, did not make any public appearance after the vote.
With traditional election night celebrations canceled, Biden had to make do with a web video shot in his home in Wilmington, Delaware.
“We’ve moved closer to securing the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, and we’re doing it by building a broad coalition that we need to win in November,” Biden said.
As he did when he swept through the primaries a week ago, Biden also out an olive branch to Sanders and his supporters.
“Senator Sanders and I may disagree on tactics, but we share a common vision,” he said. “Our goal as a campaign, and my goal as a candidate for president, is to unify this party and then unify the nation.”
Four Southern states have yet to vote in the presidential race — Georgia, Louisiana, Kentucky, and West Virginia.
Georgia’s primary, scheduled from March 24, has been moved to May 19; Louisiana’s has been moved from April 4 to June 20; and Kentucky’s has been moved from May 19 to June 23. West Virginia’s primary is still scheduled for May 12.