Biden Sweeps South, Takes Texas in Nail-Biter

(CN) – Using the momentum gathered in his sweep of Saturday’s South Carolina primary, former Vice President Joe Biden gathered up victories across the rest of the Southern states in play on Super Tuesday. 

Biden won in Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Texas Tuesday night, with Sanders trailing in second place in all four states. 

An exuberant Biden took to the stage at his Los Angeles campaign headquarters Tuesday to relish in the list of states where voters contradicted opinions that his campaign was struggling.

“For those, those who’ve been knocked down, counted out, left behind, this is your campaign,” Biden told the cheering crowd. “Just a few days ago, the press, the pundits declared the campaign dead. And then came South Carolina and they had something to say about it.”

Voters in Super Tuesday states had a similar say, Biden said.

It was a win Biden credited to the last-minute endorsements the Monday before Super Tuesday.

“We won Minnesota because of Amy Klobuchar,” Biden said.” We’re doing well in Texas because of Beto O’Rourke.”

With 80% of the vote reporting in Arkansas, Biden led his rivals with 39% over Sanders’ 22%, Bloomberg’s 17%, and Warren snagging 10% of votes.

Biden pulled a double-digit lead in Oklahoma, clinching 38% of the vote, followed by Sanders with 25%, Bloomberg with 14% and Warren with 13%.

Despite some polls scheduled to stay open an extra three hours around Nashville, Tennessee, some news outlets called the state for Biden at 8:30 p.m. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke at a Tuesday campaign rally in Dallas. (AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez)

Meanwhile in delegate-rich Texas, which holds the lion’s share of the delegates of the South – 228 – the race flipped from Sanders, who maintained an early vote lead, to Biden Tuesday evening.

Biden regained strength in the Lone Star State with 93% of precincts reporting, capturing 33.4% of the vote, to Sanders’ 29.5%. Bloomberg took 15.2% of the vote, followed by Warren with 11.3%.

Election day in the South was not without its challenges. 

In the Nashville area, some Tennessee voters cast ballots Tuesday at precincts that were keeping election machines running off generators because that morning’s lethal tornadoes knocked out power at several polling locations.

Some voters in Texas near an air force base quarantining individuals suspected of having the coronavirus were urged by county officials to take precautions while out at polling places Tuesday but no disruptions in voting took place. 

More than 1 million early voters cast ballots in the state’s Democratic primary, surpassing 2016 early voting totals.

In Tennessee, Biden edged out over the rest of the field as the evening wore on, scooping up more than 214,600 votes – about 41.71% – the Tennessee Office of the Secretary of State reported. Sanders had a little over 128,500 votes and Bloomberg sat with about 79,600 votes – 15.46% of the total vote. Warren trailed with 53,441 votes. 

Pete Buttigieg, who dropped out of the race over the weekend, earned approximately 17,000 votes.

Sekou Franklin, a political science professor at Middle Tennessee State University said many of the southern states in play on Super Tuesday were important for Biden because it helps him overtake the gains front-runner Sanders is expected to make in places such as California.

Biden’s shortage of campaign funds prevented him from focusing on states such as Tennessee, Franklin said, while Bloomberg blanketed the state in yard signs, offices and campaign stops.

“With the Biden campaign, from what I can tell, I have seen nothing from the campaign in this particular state,” Franklin said.

Even Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg made stops in the Volunteer State before they dropped from the race and endorsed Biden the weekend before Super Tuesday.

The unofficial election night results posted by the Alabama Secretary of State reported Biden, at 11:40 p.m., had 63.36% of the vote – about 256,000 votes total. All 67 counties in Alabama were reporting at that point. 

Sanders earned 16.3% of the vote, Bloomberg 12%, and Warren 5.38%.

Meanwhile, Republican voters in their primary cast ballots to decide the judge to sit as the first-place justice on the Alabama Supreme Court. Incumbent Justice Greg Shaw, a Republican, pulled ahead of his challenger Senator Cam Ward, who led the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee. At the results rolled in, Shaw received around 59% or 318,600 votes. 

But one of the most contentious races that Alabama Republicans had to decide Tuesday was who will challenge Senator Doug Jones, a Democrat, for his seat in the Senate.

Former Senator Jeff Sessions, seeking his old seat, earned 31.4% of the vote, the Alabama Secretary of State reported. Former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville gathered up 27.9% and Representative Bradley Byrne, who represents the state along the Gulf Coast, earned 25%. 

Roy Moore, whose campaign against Jones in a 2017 special election for the Senate nosedived after the former judge faced accusations of decades-old sexual impropriety, garnered support from 7.43% of voters.

The race between Sessions and Tuberville for the GOP nomination to challenge the vulnerable Jones will be decided in a March 31 runoff.

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