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Due to the coronavirus pandemic, which raised health concerns over in-person voting at polling stations, nearly all of the states holding primaries through May have delayed their contests.
This has extended the former vice president and presumptive Democratic standard-bearer’s timetable for formally clinching his party’s nomination.
Biden scored his latest victory over the weekend, winning 77 percent of the vote in the Kansas primary, which due to the pandemic was held by mailed-in ballots. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont – Biden’s last remaining nomination rival until he suspended his campaign and endorsed the former vice president last month – won 23 percent of the vote. Biden captured 29 delegates, to Sanders' 10.
According to the AP delegate tracker, Biden currently has 1,435 of the 1,991 delegates needed to officially win the nomination, which means he’s 556 short of clinching.
There are only 114 delegates up for grabs when three more states – Nebraska, Oregon and Hawaii – hold primaries later this month.
Eight states and the District of Columbia will hold contests on June 2, with 500 delegates at stake. Another 140 delegates will be awarded when the Virgin Islands, West Virginia and Georgia hold contests June 6-9. Next up is Kentucky, which has 54 delegates up for grabs on June 23. New Jersey – with 126 delegates at stake – has pushed its primary to July 6. Louisiana has delayed its contest to July 11 and Connecticut to Aug. 11.
The percentage of Biden’s victories in these upcoming contests will dictate how many delegates he’s awarded and when he'll get over the top in clinching the nomination. While virtually assured the nomination, Biden continues to face an undercurrent of opposition from Sanders supporters, especially amid allegations of sexual assault which the presumptive nominee denies. But Sanders himself, along with the party establishment, have sought to rally Democrats around the former vice president.
There’s also a question of whether all the contests will be held.
The New York State Board of Elections last week effectively canceled its June 23 presidential primary when the two Democratic commissioners on the panel voted to strip off the ballot every candidate that wasn’t actively campaigning for president. That left Biden as the only contender on the ballot. The move, if it stands, would effectively give all 274 New York delegates to Biden.
Even though he ended his White House bid, Sanders pledged to keep his name on the ballot in all upcoming primaries and caucuses to accumulate as many delegates as possible at this summer’s convention. The more delegates Sanders wins, the more influence he and his legions of younger and progressive supporters will have on the party’s platform and rules, which will be voted on during the convention.
Last week, Biden and Sanders announced a deal that would allow Sanders to keep hundreds of convention delegates he would have otherwise had to forfeit after suspending his White House bid.
The agreement between the two former rivals avoids what could have been a messy political fight between the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and Sanders.
Biden, meanwhile, has already begun joint fundraising with the DNC and other agreements that come with being the party’s presumptive nominee.