WASHINGTON : A resurgent Joe Biden was projected to win seven large states on Tuesday, and front-runner Bernie Sanders captured two states with several others too close to call on the biggest day of voting in the 2020 Democratic presidential nominating race.
Edison Research and the main television networks declared Biden the winner in Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama based on exit polls on Super Tuesday, when Americans in 14 states voted for a Democratic challenger to Republican President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 election.
Fox News projected Biden would also win Oklahoma. The Associated Press projected he would also win Arkansas and Minnesota.
Sanders was projected to win in Colorado and his home state of Vermont, expected outcomes for the self-described democratic socialist and independent senator who hopes to take a huge step toward winning the nomination on Tuesday.
More than one-third of the delegates who will pick the eventual nominee at a July convention are up for grabs in primary elections on Tuesday that could provide some clarity at last in a muddled race for the White House.
Early results showed Sanders holding a narrow lead over Biden in Texas, while Biden had a narrow lead in Massachusetts and Minnesota.
The rush of early results left Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York mayor who spent more than half a billion dollars on advertising, largely out of the running, with his only victory coming in the U.S. territory of American Samoa.
NBC News reported that Bloomberg would reassess whether to stay in the race on Wednesday, but a campaign official said it was inaccurate to suggest his White House bid could end on Wednesday. The official said the campaign reassesses everyday.
Biden, former President Barack Obama’s vice president, has enjoyed a burst of momentum since a blowout win in South Carolina on Saturday, which led to endorsements from a flood of prominent party officials and former rivals.
That effort gained fresh momentum on the eve of Tuesday’s voting as moderate presidential rivals Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, endorsed Biden after withdrawing from the race.
The pace of the Democratic race begins to accelerate after Super Tuesday, with 11 more states voting by the end of March. By then, nearly two-thirds of the delegates will have been allotted.
Sanders headed into Tuesday with 60 delegates to Biden’s 54 in the state-by-state nominating fight. Sanders managed a virtual tie with Buttigieg in Iowa and wins in New Hampshire and Nevada.
Besides leading in polls in California, Sanders also is ahead of Biden by a smaller margin in polls in Texas. Sanders’ strength with Hispanics should pay dividends in that state, where Latinos comprise one-third of the Democratic electorate.
Biden, whose South Carolina win affirmed his popularity with black voters, hoped to win five states where African Americans make up at least a quarter of the Democratic electorate: Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and Arkansas.
Democrats living abroad began voting in a primary set to run until March 10. The last polls will close in California at 8 p.m. PST (0400 GMT on Wednesday).
The next contests, on March 10, will be in Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Washington state.