by Ted O’Neil
Former Vice President Joe Biden has a six-point lead over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in national polling averages, according to FiveThirtyEight.com, as six more states prepare to vote Tuesday.
The only other remaining candidate, Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, is averaging 1 percent. Gabbard won her only two delegates so far on Super Tuesday by finishing second in American Samoa to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Gabbard’s campaign has not said much about why she is continuing her candidacy other than that she is committed to staying in the race through the July Democratic National Committee’s nominating convention in Milwaukee.
Bloomberg, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg have all dropped out in the past week. All but Warren have endorsed Biden.
Some in the media have speculated that Warren will endorse Sanders since they align on several policy issues, particularly Medicare for All. But Warren also stressed party unity during her campaign, and Biden is seen as a leader.
That was the key message from Bloomberg as he exited the race, saying: “I’ve always believed that defeating Donald Trump starts with uniting behind a candidate who has the best shot to do it. After yesterday’s vote it is clear that candidate is my friend and a great American, Joe Biden.”
There will be 352 delegates up for grabs Tuesday in Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Washington state and North Dakota.
Biden currently leads Sanders in the delegate count, 643-566. It will require 1,991 delegates to win the nomination.
The biggest chunk of delegates Tuesday – 125 – are in Michigan. The average of polling results there show Biden at 38 percent and Sanders at 30 percent. The latest poll, released on Super Tuesday, showed Biden at 29 percent and Sanders at 23 percent, although it was conducted while the other candidates were still running.
Sanders has the average lead in Washington, where there are 89 delegates, at 31 percent compared to 26 percent for Biden. No new polling has been conducted there since late February.
An Emerson College poll in Missouri (68 delegates) released Thursday shows a much tighter race now that there are fewer candidates, with Biden at 48 percent and Sanders at 44 percent. Biden had a 20-point average lead over Sanders, 46 percent to 26 percent, with a fuller field.
There is little polling data available for Mississippi, which has 36 delegates, but pundits expect Biden to do well given his performance in other southern states so far. Sanders canceled a campaign event in Mississippi on Friday and instead went to Michigan.
Idaho, with 20 delegates, also has very little polling data, although FiveThirtyEight.com predicts Biden will win 58 percent of the vote.
FiveThirtyEight.com predicts a close race in North Dakota, with Biden and Sanders splitting that state’s 14 delegates.
There will be 577 delegates available March 17 as voters in Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio go to the polls two days after the DNC debate in Phoenix.
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Ted O’Neil is a contributor to The Center Square.