The race to become the Democratic Party's nominee to challenge President Donald Trump has changed rapidly in the past week, with Super Tuesday results tilting advantage in the race from left-leaning U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont to moderate former Vice President Joe Biden.
Now that Super Tuesday — when 13 states conduct their primaries — is over, the race has effectively become between Sanders and Biden. U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii remains in the contest as well, but has won only one delegate thus far.
A victory in South Carolina's primary, an exodus of many of the contest's more moderate candidates — South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar all dropped out and endorsed Biden — and a commanding 10-state victory on Tuesday have buttressed Biden's once-flagging campaign. Meanwhile, Sanders walked away from Super Tuesday with three states, including California, which has the most delegates of any in the primary process.
The Bernie vs. Biden contest is one for the ages — Sanders is a self-professed democratic socialist who is pushing for Medicare for All, cost-free college tuition, a higher minimum wage and other progressive agenda items. Biden, meanwhile, is campaigning on a more moderate platform that tinkers around the edges of the country's current health care, educational and other systems.
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, once a frontrunner in the contest, dropped out March 5 after her path to victory narrowed to a pinpoint. The Massachusetts senator walked a line between the big changes Sanders promotes and the incremental adjustments Biden proposes — positioning that might have made her an attractive alternative for those put off by the two remaining candidates. But she finished third in her home state and would have needed an improbable run of victories in other states in the coming weeks to remain viable.
All of this means Ohio has become increasingly important to the remaining campaigns. Biden is the favorite here, but if recent political history is any guide, there is probably no safe bet as to what could go down March 17 on the Democrats' primary ballot.
Three other states will cast ballots the same day as Ohio — Arizona, Florida and Illinois — and the results of those contests could clarify who will take the nomination. Or, they could further muddy the waters and put the party on a path to a contested primary convention in Milwaukee this summer.
President Donald Trump is running unopposed in the Republican presidential primary.