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Biden sweeps the South, including Texas, in resurgent campaign; Sanders strong in the West

Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff, Chris Carlson/Associated Press

ESSEX JUNCTION, Vt. — Former vice president Joe Biden swept to victories across the electoral map on Tuesday, in a striking performance that shook Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ position atop the Democratic field and narrowed what had been an unwieldy campaign to a race between two candidates with notably different visions.

Biden won Super Tuesday’s second-largest prize, Texas, according to a projection by the Associated Press, as well as primaries in Alabama, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Virginia. Texas awards 228 delegates.


Sanders nabbed Colorado, Utah, and his home state of Vermont. Sanders was ahead in California, the biggest delegate jackpot, and the Associated Press projected he would win the state.

In Maine, where Biden and Sanders swapped the lead throughout the night, the race was too close to call early Wednesday.

The slate of 14 coast-to-coast contests, which will award more than a third of the convention delegates, slowed the momentum of Sanders, 78, a democratic socialist who just a week ago looked poised to rack up a runaway delegate lead. Biden, 77, who rapidly began consolidating the party’s moderate wing after a blow-out win in South Carolina on Saturday, was on track to sweep the South powered by older, Black, and suburban voters.

But his projected wins in Massachusetts, Senator Elizabeth Warren’s home state, and Minnesota and Oklahoma, two states carried by Sanders in 2016, showed Biden’s appeal extends beyond the South.

“For those who have been knocked down, counted out, left behind, this is your campaign," a jubilant-looking Biden told his supporters in Los Angeles Tuesday night. "We were told, well, when we got to Super Tuesday it would be over. Well, it may be over for the other guy!”


He declared his candidacy “very much alive.”

Joe Biden addresses voters on Super Tuesday
Joe Biden to supporters: "They don't call it Super Tuesday for nothing."

But Sanders delivered a strong performance in Western states, particularly California, which awards 415 delegates, the most on Super Tuesday. Polls did not close there until late Tuesday.

“Tonight I tell you with absolute confidence: We are going to win the Democratic nomination,” Sanders told his cheering supporters in a fairgrounds near Burlington, Vt. The candidate later slammed Biden’s vote for the Iraq War, record on Social Security, and support for the NAFTA trade deal — suggesting his concerns about Biden’s successes. He railed against the “political establishment,” which he said was undermining his campaign.

Bernie Sanders addresses voters on Super Tuesday
Bernie Sanders addresses voters: "Tonight I tell you with absolute confidence, we are going to win the Democratic nomination."

Former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg, 78, who is on the primary ballot for the first time with his late entry into the race, and Warren, 70, had disappointing nights.

Warren not only lost her home state of Massachusetts to Biden, she finished behind Sanders there.

And despite pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into advertising, Bloomberg was not able to overtake Biden in North Carolina or Virginia. He did, however, win the caucuses in American Samoa, which awards six delegates.

“No matter how many delegates we win tonight, we have done something no one else thought was possible — in just three months we’ve gone from 1 percent of the polls to being a contender for the Democratic nomination for president," Bloomberg told his supporters in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Citing a person close to his campaign, the Associated Press reported that Bloomberg on Wednesday would assess whether he should stay in the race.


Warren barely referenced the high-stakes elections while speaking to pumped-up supporters in Detroit, Mich., which votes next Tuesday.

“What I see happening is a lot of folks trying to turn voting into some kind of strategy,” Warren said. “I’m in this race because I believe I will make the best president of the United States.”

Warren spoke to voters in Michigan
Warren spoke to voters in Michigan: "Cast a vote that will make you proud."

A whopping 1,357 pledged delegates were up for grabs on Tuesday, and candidates must hit 15 percent in a state or congressional district to be eligible to win any of them. It takes 1,991 delegates to win the nomination on the first ballot at the convention to take on President Trump. Surveys by the Associated Press found many voters in Super Tuesday states made their decision at the last minute.

Going into Tuesday’s election, Sanders appeared well-positioned for a strong showing, with a large lead in the polls in California and fighting for the lead in polls in Massachusetts and several other states.

A series of dramatic developments boosted Biden in the final hours before Super Tuesday voting began. Two of his moderate rivals — former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar — abruptly dropped out and endorsed him on Monday following his South Carolina victory. They obliquely warned that Sanders is a divisive figure who could damage Democrats’ chances against Trump.

Sanders, meanwhile, asked Klobuchar’s and Buttigieg’s supporters to join him instead of Biden.


“The door is open,” he said at a rally Monday night in Minnesota. “Come on in.”

Bloomberg has poured $500 million into advertising alone. And Warren’s campaign has vowed to stay in the race until the convention, powered by a fund-raising boost since tackling Bloomberg in last month’s Las Vegas debate. Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii also is on the ballot, though she has not qualified for recent debates.

In Charlotte, N.C., about 30 Biden supporters ate pizza and drank cider at a party for the candidate as they watched him headed toward victory in their state.

“Yes! Yes! Yes!” said Elma Thompson, 83. “I knew he could do it.”

Thompson, a retired teacher, said she is disheartened about the direction the country is headed and terrified of another four years of Trump.

“I’ve known this man ever since Obama,” she said of Biden. “Really nice man. He’ll be our next president, I hope.”

On Tuesday morning, Sanders drove himself and his wife, Jane, in their blue family Subaru to their polling station in Burlington, Vt., to cast ballots in that state’s primary. “I want to make sure we get at least two votes in Vermont,” Sanders joked, as a fan yelled, "I love you Bernie!”

Sanders continued his frequent argument that the passion of his supporters makes him the most “electable” candidate in the race. “I happen to believe deeply that if we are going to defeat Donald Trump, our campaign is the campaign to do that,” he told reporters. “We have the grass-roots movement.”


Meanwhile, Warren and her husband, Bruce Mann, took their golden retriever, Bailey, to their local polling station in Cambridge to vote in the Massachusetts primary.

Sanders has warned his large crowds at recent rallies that the “establishment” is trying to stop his candidacy, as Biden quickly racked up endorsements and turbo-charged his fund-raising after his South Carolina win.

Trump, who’s taken an unusual public interest in the Democratic primary, appeared to try to fan the flames of that sentiment when he talked to reporters on Tuesday.

“I think there’s no question the establishment, the Democratic establishment, is trying to take it away from Bernie Sanders," Trump said. "No question about that in my mind.”

Trump was on the Republican ballot 13 of the states, including Massachusetts, where he defeated former governor William Weld.

Democratic voters heading to the polls on Tuesday expressed a desire to beat Trump, with many of them saying they struggled between their heads and their hearts when picking a candidate.

On a rainy day in Charlotte, N.C., Channing Shivley, 33, said he voted for Sanders because he supports his sweeping policy agenda. Shivley said his number one goal is to beat Trump, but decided to go with his heart even though he believes Biden has a better shot at defeating the president.

“I would much rather prefer Bernie in office,'' Shivley said. "This was more a vote of conscience for me.''

In Burlington, Vt., a Sanders stronghold, several voters said they backed the senator in the primary.

“He’s a Democrat as far as I’m concerned,” said 68-year-old Douglas Frink, who was wearing shorts and sandals due to the unseasonably warm 50-degree weather.

He said he voted for Sanders because he appreciated his consistency over the years.

“He’s the furthest one to the left that I could find,” Frink said.

Jess Bidgood, Laura Krantz and Danny McDonald of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Syd Stone contributed to this report.

Follow her on Twitter @lizcgoodwin.