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Voters brave coronavirus, make Joe Biden presumptive nominee – New York Post

Joe Biden swept three high-stakes Democratic primaries against Bernie Sanders Tuesday night to become the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, with voters braving coronavirus fears to hit the polls.

The former vice president’s first win of the night was also his biggest, as he cruised to a rout over Vermont Sen. Sanders in Florida — packed with 219 party delegates — by nearly 40 percentage points, 61.9 percent to 22.8 percent with 99 percent of precincts reporting.

“Today, it looks like once again . . . our campaign has had a very good night,” Biden said in a subdued statement livestreamed from his Wilmington, Del., home.

“We moved closer to securing the Democratic Party’s nomination for president.”

Biden followed up his Sunshine State win with a commanding triumph in Illinois, where, with 96 percent of precincts reporting, he was up 59.5 percent to 35.8 percent.

And as Arizona returns came in early Wednesday (EDT), Biden had a healthy lead there of 42.7 percent to 30 percent, with 38 percent reporting.

Fueled by dominant wins in South Carolina on Feb. 29, on Super Tuesday (March 3), last week in Michigan and in a string of Southern states, Biden has now surged past 1,100 total projected delegates — leaving Sanders with no realistic path to victory.

The Tuesday blowouts helped Biden widen what was already a triple-digit lead in the delegate count, awarded proportionally to candidates’ vote totals.

Sanders did not speak publicly following the Tuesday drubbing, but those familiar with the self-described democratic socialist’s thinking expressed doubts that he would wave the white flag anytime soon.

“What I know about Senator Sanders’ thought process and focus is, it’s all about representing the movement and leading what he initially called the political revolution,” Kurt Ehrenberg, Sanders’ former longtime strategist in New Hampshire, told Politico.

“And not letting down the people who have been with him all along. I think that’s the most important consideration for him.”

But Sanders likely would have suffered a fourth humiliating loss on Tuesday in Ohio had Gov. Mike DeWine not postponed the primary hours before polls opened over fears of the coronavirus.

Even in the three states where the primaries proceeded, the ever-expanding pandemic loomed large.

One day after President Trump urged Americans to avoid gatherings of 10 people or more to stem the infection’s spread, low turnout was the norm — both among voters and poll workers.

In Florida’s Palm Beach County, some 800 volunteer poll workers backed out, with only 100 new ones coming in.

Arizona election officials consolidated polling places, lined up backup poll workers and emphasized disinfecting equipment, while in Illinois, there was a push to relocate about 50 Chicago-area polling places after host sites canceled at the last minute.

“Biden and Sanders are debating the merits of marginally different policies in this little pseudo-reality, while America is consumed by an unprecedented crisis,” said Jesse Lehrich, a Democratic operative based in the Windy City who called the state’s election “understandably, a bit of a mess.”

“That’s not a criticism of the candidates,” said Lehrich. “Everything else in politics feels small in the shadow of coronavirus.”

Meanwhile Tuesday, Trump officially clinched the GOP nomination after notching wins in the Florida and Illinois primaries.

Running against only token opposition, Trump reaped all but one of the available delegates this primary season, with former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld winning that one in the Iowa caucuses.

Additional reporting by Emily Jacobs, with Wires

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