Notwithstanding the national disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Democratic primary remains (sort of) a going concern. Democratic voters in Arizona, Florida, and Illinois are set to cast ballots on Tuesday, and the results are expected to favor former vice president Joe Biden.
Ohio was also on track to hold its primary on Tuesday after a state judge rejected a petition by Gov. Mike DeWine (R.) to postpone the vote until June. Judge Richard Frye ruled late Monday that the governor had not "proceeded in a timely manner" by filing the lawsuit so soon before the polls opened. Hours after the judge's ruling, however, DeWine announced that state health director Amy Action would order the polls closed due to a health emergency.
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Whenever the votes are ultimately cast, decisive victories in these states would help Biden strengthen his lead in a race that is all but over. More than 400 convention delegates are up for grabs, enough to significantly widen the gap between Biden and socialist insurgent Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.).
Biden currently enjoys a significant delegate lead (894-743) over Sanders. After Tuesday's contests, the former VP could be well on his way to securing the 1,991 delegates required to win the nomination. Recent polling shows Biden leading by at least 20 points in every state scheduled to vote on Tuesday. Sanders, meanwhile, is running on fumes after getting trounced in the slate of primaries held on March 10.
Tuesday's primary elections follow the first two-person debate of the cycle. The debate, originally scheduled to take place in front of an audience in Arizona, was moved to the CNN studios in Washington, D.C., and scaled back dramatically in response to growing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, which originated in Wuhan, China. Coronavirus dominated the conversation. The candidates did not shake hands and stood at podiums six feet apart, per Centers for Disease Control guidelines.
The states holding elections on Tuesday are taking extra precautions to prevent the spread of the virus, sanitizing voting machines and working with local health officials to ensure public safety. The pandemic is certain to have an impact on voter turnout but is unlikely to change the result.
At this point in the race, with the nomination all but decided, public attention has turned toward other questions, such as who Biden will choose as a running mate. He narrowed it down a bit at Sunday's debate, pledging to choose a female candidate. Sanders also promised to support Biden if (when) the former vice president wins the nomination—a welcome development for establishment Democrats concerned about the socialist's desire to run as an independent, refuse to endorse the party's nominee, or otherwise cause a ruckus at the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee.
Since reemerging as the Democratic frontrunner, Biden has not followed the path of other presumptive nominees by taking a centrist approach to policy. Instead, he has embraced a number of far-left policies, presumably in an effort to appeal to Sanders supporters. During the debate on Sunday, for example, Biden pledged that there would be "no more drilling" for oil under his administration.
Biden's choice of a running mate is of particular interest given his advanced age. According to science, the 77-year-old is among the most vulnerable members of the population when it comes to the likelihood of dying from the coronavirus.