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Democratic Primaries For The Week of March 9

Joe Biden leads Bernie Sanders by 664-573 in the Democratic delegate race following Super Tuesday. The coming week is not as momentous as last week in terms of elections, but several Democratic primaries give the former vice president a chance to expand his lead over Bernie Sanders.

The week starts with six contests on Tuesday. Of these contests, Michigan, with 125 delegates, is the big prize. Sanders eked out a victory in Michigan in 2016 and has considered the state a stronghold this year.

Here is a rundown on the March 10 primaries:

  • Idaho (20 delegates) – no polling
  • Michigan (125) – A mid-February poll showed Sanders up by nine but a more recent survey has Biden ahead by six.
  • Mississippi (36) – The polling average has Biden ahead by double digits in this Southern state with a large share of black voters.
  • Missouri (68) – no polling
  • North Dakota (14) – no polling, but this is a caucus and Sanders does well in caucuses
  • Washington (89) – Sanders led by six in a mid-February poll, but a more recent survey showed Biden leading by one.

On Saturday, the Northern Marianas will also hold a caucus. Six delegates are at stake there.

Republicans will hold primaries in the same states with the exception of Northern Marianas, which will be next Sunday. Republicans will also hold a primary in Guam this week. Democrats will have their Guam primary in May. Although the dates of the two parties’ primaries coincide for the most part, if you are keeping score at home, be aware that the number of delegates at stake are different.

Joe Biden’s wave of victories is expected to continue. It seems likely that Biden will run up delegate leads in states with large numbers of black voters while denying Sanders an advantage in other states.

The proportional nature of the Democratic primary, which has no winner-take-all states like the Republican primary, means that Sanders needs to win with a large advantage to cut into Biden’s delegate lead. If Bernie only ekes out a victory by a few points, he won’t make appreciable gains in the race to 1,991 delegates.

With so few delegates at stake, this week is about momentum. Can Bernie blunt Biden’s rise and slow his gains or will sweeping Biden victories cement the notion of his inevitability?

Next week also brings another Democratic debate. With most candidates having suspended their campaigns and Tulsi Gabbard excluded because she has not earned 20 percent of pledged delegates, the March 15 debate in Phoenix will be a showdown between Biden and Sanders.

With the Democratic establishment all-in on Biden, the debate takes on a new importance. In the past, the two men have shared the stage with numerous other hopefuls. This time, the focus will be on them alone and they will have more time in the spotlight. Concerns about Biden’s cognitive abilities could be fueled by a poor showing and tip the race back towards Sanders.

Democrats have united around Joe Biden and he appears to be on track to become their nominee, for better or for worse. If Biden’s gaffes get worse, Democrats could end up with a choice of Sanders or trying to insert a consensus choice at their convention.

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