Joe Biden won a large share of the delegates at stake in the March 10 primaries, besting Bernie Sanders in Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri and Idaho. North Dakota went to Sanders. (At the time of this writing, Biden and Sanders were neck and neck in Washington.) Here are some takeaways from the Edison exit poll data in Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri and Washington that help explain why Biden did so well.
In Michigan, which Bernie Sanders won four years ago, Sanders’ support was down among many demographic groups compared to 2016. In 2016, he won among men, white voters, white voters without a college degree and union households – all groups he lost to Biden this year. And Sanders’ support was down this year among women, voters age 45 and older, and moderates (groups he lost in 2016 and 2020).
Large turnout in Mississippi, where nearly seven in ten voters were African American and 87% of them voted for Biden, powered his huge win there. 74% of black voters want to see a return to the policies of Barack Obama.
Sanders was unable to win over many black voters in Michigan (27%) or Missouri (24%) either.
In Missouri, turnout among voters 65 and over rose from 22% to 31%, and Biden won them by a large margin, 81% to 14% for Sanders. Across all age groups, Sanders’ support was down this year compared to 2016, but especially so among older voters.
Sanders lost among both men and women here; in 2016, he won among men.
In Washington, where 81% are very or somewhat concerned about the Coronavirus, Biden is seen as the best candidate to handle a major crisis – 44% chose him, versus 27% for Sanders. (Biden came out on top in this measure in Michigan too, 50% to 31%.)
Washington’s primary voters were primarily white. Biden won among whites both with (32% vs 26%) and without (37% vs. 34%) a college education.
The Edison exit poll data clearly demonstrate the excitement many Sanders’ supporters feel about his candidacy. In Michigan, Missouri and Washington, more than four in five Sanders voters would be enthusiastic about him as the party’s nominee.
But Joe Biden currently leads in the all-important delegate count. How will Sanders’ supporters feel if their candidate is not the nominee? Few Sanders voters in these three states would be enthusiastic about Biden as the Democratic candidate, and just about a fifth will be upset.
But as was the case on Super Tuesday, large majorities of Sanders voters in all three states say they will vote for the Democratic nominee in November, no matter which candidate wins the nomination.