Former Vice President Joe Biden notched another series of decisive primary victories in the race to secure the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday, cementing his place as frontrunner ahead of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Biden's successes in Arizona, Florida, and Illinois were tempered, however, by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which prompted Ohio — originally slated to hold its democratic primary this week as well — to postpone the election, citing health concerns.
Chaos at polling locations, including relocations, absences, and concerns over viral transmission has raised the question in some people's minds of whether Biden's victories were in some way affected by circumstance, with depressed turnout and voting disarray, rather than his popularity with voters.
"I’m just really frustrated. I don’t know what to do," Florida voter Julie Snyder told Time, after arriving at her polling location to find the election supervisors had not.
"Given what is going on in this world," Snyder told Time, she decided to risk infection by going out to vote, but was frustrated when she was unable to at her allotted time and place. Her polling location eventually opened, and she was able to cast her ballot, but she told Time she saw other prospective voters leave before they could cast theirs.
Given the unique risks posed by voting in a pandemic, states across the country have begun to assess how to best move forward with their scheduled elections. At least five states — Ohio, Louisiana, Georgia, Maryland, and Kentucky — have postponed their primaries, while a push for nationwide mail-in voting has already begun to pick up steam.
Still, after Tuesday's races, Biden has moved comfortably ahead of Sanders in the delegate count — 1132 to 817 — and is within striking position to lock down the Democratic nomination ahead of primaries scheduled for Alaska, Wyoming, Hawaii, and Wisconsin in early April.
The Sanders campaign, meanwhile, has begun acknowledging the difficult road ahead of them following Tuesday's defeats. In a statement released early Wednesday, campaign manager Faiz Shakir said Sanders would spend the next three weeks "having conversations with supporters to assess his campaign."
Shakir continued, adding that: "In the immediate term, however, [Sanders] is focused on the government response to the coronavirus outbreak and ensuring that we take care of working people and the most vulnerable."
Meanwhile, both Sanders and Biden will be holding back from large scale events that could serve as a vector for coronavirus to spread. Each campaign has canceled rallies amidst this pandemic, opting instead to hold virtual town halls and stream messages to supporters online.