2020 primaries in Florida, Illinois and Arizona

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11:36 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

What you need to know about Tuesday's primaries

A worker wearing protective gloves counts ballots at the Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office during the Florida Primary elections, Tuesday, March 17, in Lauderhill, Florida.
A worker wearing protective gloves counts ballots at the Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office during the Florida Primary elections, Tuesday, March 17, in Lauderhill, Florida. Brynn Anderson/AP

Joe Biden made a clean sweep today with projected wins in Florida, Illinois and Arizona.

Here's what happened today:

  • Big night for Biden: Biden led in polls in both Illinois and Florida, where the most delegates are at stake. The victories in Arizona, Florida and Illinois will allow him to substantially expand his delegate lead over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders as they vie for the Democratic nomination.
  • Biden calls for unity: During a speech tonight, Biden said his goal is to unify the Democratic Party, and then to unify the nation. “You know, it's in moments like these we realize we need to put politics aside and work together as Americans," Biden said. "The coronavirus doesn't care if you're a Democrat or Republican."
  • Sanders faces new uncertainty following losses: The Vermont senator spoke early and ignored the election results in remarks to supporters on tonight, instead making a live-streamed speech on the coronavirus crisis. Sanders' campaign faces serious questions about its future, with one adviser telling CNN's Jeff Zeleny that the senator must weigh whether staying in the race is the best way to keep his movement alive.
  • New polling measures taken due to coronavirus: Some polling stations practiced social distancing and employed a one-in, one-out policy, while others ordered voters to stay 6 feet apart. In Arizona, voters got hand sanitizer immediately, before entering one polling place.

11:21 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Biden wins Arizona, CNN projects

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden reacts while giving a speech during a campaign event at Tougaloo College on March 8 in Tougaloo, Mississippi. 
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden reacts while giving a speech during a campaign event at Tougaloo College on March 8 in Tougaloo, Mississippi.  Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Joe Biden will win Arizona, CNN projects, making it his third win of the night.

Earlier tonight, CNN projected Biden will win Florida and Illinois.

There are 67 delegates at stake in Arizona.

Who won in 2016: Hillary Clinton won the Democratic primary, and Donald Trump won the Republican primary.

Watch:

10:34 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Nearly half of Arizona voters say health care is the most important issue, CNN poll shows

From CNN's Grace Sparks

An Arizona voter holds a sticker showing he voted in the Democratic Primary election at the Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix on March 17.
An Arizona voter holds a sticker showing he voted in the Democratic Primary election at the Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix on March 17. Thomas Hawthorne/The Republic/USA Today Network

Almost half of Democratic primary voters in Arizona say that health care is the most important issue in deciding who to support for the Democratic nomination, according to preliminary CNN primary polling. 

Fewer, but still a plurality, said they prioritize health care in Florida and Illinois, with a little more than 4 in 10 voters saying so in each state. 

Around 2 in 10 Arizona voters said income inequality mattered most to their vote, and 2 in 10 said climate change. Around the same said climate change was important in choosing who they supported in Illinois, but only around 1 in 10 said so in Florida.

Around 3 in 10 voters in Illinois named income inequality as the most important issue to their vote, and around 2 in 10 voters said the same in Florida.

In all three states, less than 1 in 10 voters said race relations was the most important issue in deciding who to support.

10:17 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Majority of primary voters support replacing private health insurance with a government plan, CNN poll shows

From CNN’s Grace Sparks

A majority of Democratic primary voters in Arizona, Florida and Illinois said they support replacing private health insurance with a government plan, according to CNN preliminary polling.

Around 6 in 10 voters said they support the replacement — a number that was in line with Democratic voters who have already gone to the polls in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Maine, Minnesota, Texas, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri and Washington. 

Vermont stands as the state with the highest support for private insurance so far, with 73% supporting it, and South Carolina has the lowest, with 49% in support.

10:04 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Plurality of Democratic primary voters prioritize a candidate who can unite the country, CNN poll finds

From CNN’s Grace Sparks

A voter drops off a ballot for the Arizona Democratic presidential preference election Tuesday, March 17, in Phoenix.
A voter drops off a ballot for the Arizona Democratic presidential preference election Tuesday, March 17, in Phoenix. Ross D. Franklin/AP

A plurality of Democratic primary voters on Tuesday said they prioritize nominating a candidate who can unite the country, according to a preliminary CNN Primary Poll.

Around 4 in 10 voters said so in Arizona, while a third of voters each said so in Florida and Illinois.

A quarter of candidates across all three states voting Tuesday said they prefer a candidate who can bring about needed change.

And around a quarter of voters in Florida and Illinois also want a nominee who cares about people like them, while slightly fewer voters in Arizona said they prioritize that quality. 

When it comes to temperament, around 1 in 6 voters in Arizona and Florida say they want a candidate with the right one, while around 1 in 10 say so in Illinois.

9:58 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Biden to Sanders supporters: "I hear you. I know what’s at stake."

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

Biden for President Campaign
Biden for President Campaign

Joe Biden attempted to appeal to supporters of Bernie Sanders after the former vice president picked up more primary wins on Tuesday. 

“Senator Sanders and I may disagree on tactics, but we share a common vision,” Biden said in a livestream from Wilmington, Delaware. He cited providing affordable health care for all Americans, reducing income inequality and combating climate change. 

“Senator Sanders and his supporters have brought a remarkable passion and tenacity to all of these issues,” Biden said. “Together, they have shifted the fundamental conversation in this country."

“So let me say, especially to the young voters who have been inspired by Senator Sanders: I hear you. I know what's at stake. I know what we have to do.”

Biden said his goal is to unify the Democratic Party, and then to unify the nation.

“You know, it's in moments like these we realize we need to put politics aside and work together as Americans," Biden said. "The coronavirus doesn't care if you're a Democrat or Republican."

9:56 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Biden speaks about coronavirus concerns after projected wins: "We're all in this together"

Biden For President Campaign
Biden For President Campaign

Former Vice President Joe Biden addressed concerns over the coronavirus outbreak via livestream after his projected wins in Illinois and Florida.

"The coronavirus doesn't care if you're Democrat or Republican," he said. "It will not discriminate based on national origin, race, gender or zip code. It will touch people in positions of power as well as the most vulnerable people in our society. We're all in this together."

He also spoke briefly of his wins, saying, "Our campaign has had a very good night."

"We moved closer to securing the Democratic Party's nomination for president, and we're doing it by building a broad coalition that we need to win in November," Biden said.

Watch:

9:46 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Three key voting groups again power Biden to projected primary win in Illinois, CNN poll shows

From CNN's Grace Sparks

Workers counts ballots at the Broward County Supervisor Of Elections Office during the Florida Primary elections at the Broward County Supervisor Of Elections Office Tuesday, March 17.
Workers counts ballots at the Broward County Supervisor Of Elections Office during the Florida Primary elections at the Broward County Supervisor Of Elections Office Tuesday, March 17. Brynn Anderson/AP

Democratic voters over 65, moderates, and black voters powered former Vice President Joe Biden’s projected Democratic primary win in Illinois, according to CNN’s preliminary primary polling.

Those same groups of voters carried Biden to his projected win over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in Florida Tuesday night.

Biden’s gains were also reflected among voters who only wanted minor — as opposed to major — changes to the economic system in the US, who were opposed to a single payer health care system, and those who preferred to nominate a candidate who could unite the country. 

And where Biden won, Sanders lost his following from 2016.

In 2016, Sanders was barely edged out by Hillary Clinton in the Illinois primary, with the Vermont senator carrying young voters, white voters, and liberals. Sanders, for example, saw a significant loss among white voters on Tuesday, capturing the backing of just about a quarter of white voters compared to 57% of those voters in 2016.

9:37 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Sanders faces new uncertainty following losses

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks to reporters about coronavirus Thursday March 12, in Burlington, Vermont.
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks to reporters about coronavirus Thursday March 12, in Burlington, Vermont. Charles Krupa/AP

Bernie Sanders’ fight for the presidency may not be over, but his campaign almost certainly is.

A critical question facing Sanders: Must he keep his campaign alive for his movement to survive?

“If he ends his candidacy, will someone else step into the void and lead the movement?” one Sanders’ adviser asked. “Is the best way to stay relevant by staying around for the rest of the race?”

The Vermont senator is tightening his circle, aides say, with perhaps only he and his wife, Jane, involved in the final decision making. Almost no one else knows what he will do — and when.

If the coronavirus pandemic was not escalating — and the country was not gripped by uncertainty — advisers have no doubt Sanders would stay in the race for its duration, intent on holding Joe Biden’s feet to the progressive fire on a series of policies.

The timing of Sanders’ decision may be unknown, but the fate of his candidacy is not.