Former vice president Joe Biden won the states of Florida and Illinois in the Democratic primaries on Tuesday, extending his lead against the leftist senator Bernie Sanders.
Despite the anxiety from the coronavirus hovering over the primary election and forcing the crucial state of Ohio to postpone its vote until June, Illinois, Florida and Arizona voted on Tuesday. Mr Biden was polling ahead in all three.
Florida holds 219 delegates and Mr Biden’s win by a big margin will extend his lead – already at 847 – with Mr Sanders at 685. With 90 per cent counted, Mr Biden was ahead by more than 40 per cent in the Sunshine State.
In Illinois, Mr Biden was leading, with 57 per cent to 37 per cent for Mr Sanders. The Associated Press projected Mr Biden as winner.
Arizona polls that close at 8pm local time were expected to also go in the former vice president's favour. The New York Times updated delegate count on Tuesday night gave Mr Biden 1121 delegates, and Mr Sanders 839.
But even with Mr Biden leading with almost 300 delegates, it wasn’t clear if Mr Sanders was planning to concede the losses in 17 states and drop out of the race.
The Vermont senator did not comment on the results on Tuesday. Instead, in an online address, he proposed a monthly payment of $2,000 to each American in response to the Covid-19 crisis.
“We need to provide a direct emergency $2,000 cash payment to every household in America every month for the duration of the crisis,” he said.
For a candidate to win the nomination, a total of 1991 delegates is required.