LOS ANGELES — Joe Biden had a good night across the map on Super Tuesday, surpassing expectations in nearly every state and putting himself in the driver’s seat for the nomination.
He dominated with African American voters, as expected, and saw a huge surge in suburban turnout across the map that helped him win a lot more places than even his most optimistic backers expected. Here are the four most impressive — and surprising — parts of his Super Tuesday surge.
He beat Warren — and Bernie — in Massachusetts
Heading into Super Tuesday, Massachusetts looked like a battle between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, with Biden as an afterthought in the Bay State.
Just days ago, multiple polls showed Sanders edging past Warren in the state, with Biden in a distant third or fourth place and hovering around 10%. But Biden’s South Carolina win, the exits of Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, Michael Bloomberg’s collapse, and a huge effort by the Democratic establishment to rally around Biden’s candidacy gave him a huge surge in the state and nationally. Biden ended up beating both Sanders and Warren in the state, pushing Warren to third place and possibly putting her on the brink of dropping out of the race.
A poll released from the liberal organization Data for Progress right before Super Tuesday showed Biden surging late into a three-way tie — but his comfortable win there is still a shock.
He crushed Sanders in Virginia and North Carolina
Biden beat Sanders by even wider margins in both states than Sanders had faced four years ago, even with Bloomberg siphoning off votes in the center. Biden beat Sanders by a 19-point margin in North Carolina, wider than the 13-point victory Hillary Clinton achieved in the state four years ago. And Biden’s 31-point margin in Virginia edged Clinton’s 29-point win there.
That’s all the more impressive given polling a week ago showed Sanders with a chance to win both states, as Biden and Bloomberg were roughly evenly dividing the more moderate vote.
Both states saw huge surges in turnout in suburban areas — the types of voters who’ve moved hard toward Democrats in the Trump era and helped fuel their House takeover in 2018. That’s a sign that the realignment of suburban moderates to the Democrats is offering a major boon to Biden.
He beat Bernie in at least 2 states Bernie won in 2016
Even facing a divided field, Biden defeated Sanders in both Oklahoma and Minnesota, two states Sanders had won by lopsided margins two years ago. As of press time, he also narrowly led Sanders in Maine — a state that Bernie had won by a 2-1 margin four years ago.
Biden got a huge boost in the state from Klobuchar, who dropped out and endorsed him right before Super Tuesday, but Sanders was thought to have the edge there given his 23-point caucus win over Clinton four years ago.
Both Maine and Minnesota switched from caucus systems to primaries this election, hurting Sanders, who has performed much better in caucuses that tend to be dominated by activists. But those states have a high number of populist-leaning Democrats and are the types of places Sanders needs to win if he’s going to have any real shot at the nomination. Biden’s wins in the states were a surprising blow to Bernie.
He won delegates in Bernie’s home state
Vermont has long been treated like Sanders’ personal fiefdom in presidential politics — he beat Hillary Clinton there in a whopping 86%-14% result, keeping her below the 15% threshold needed to win any of the state’s handful of delegates. But in a much more crowded field, Biden managed 22% compared to 51% for Sanders — enough to secure a chunk of the state’s delegates.
Biden actually won Texas
Prior to Super Tuesday, it was Sanders who seemed to have the strongest position in Texas, with strong support from the state's Latinx voters. But that's not what happened Tuesday. Biden finished the night with 33.6% of the vote to Sanders’ 30%. Bloomberg had 14.7% of the vote, and Elizabeth Warren came in third with 11.6%.
Most of Biden's supporters thought his best hope was to keep it close in Texas. But a late endorsement from Beto O'Rourke and a surge from rural Democrats helped make it a great night in Texas for the former vice president.
Cover: Democratic presidential hopeful former Vice President Joe Biden accompanied by his wife Jill Biden, speaks during a Super Tuesday event in Los Angeles on March 3, 2020. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)