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Joe Biden wins Oklahoma, another notch on his belt

Biden is showing real strength below the Mason-Dixon Line.

Joe Biden takes a selfie with supporter Margarita Rebollal after speaking in Las Vegas, Nevada, on February 22, 2020.
Ronda Churchill/AFP via Getty Images
Zack Beauchamp is a senior correspondent at Vox, where he covers ideology and challenges to democracy, both at home and abroad. Before coming to Vox in 2014, he edited TP Ideas, a section of Think Progress devoted to the ideas shaping our political world.

Joe Biden has won the Oklahoma Democratic primary, a small but nonetheless significant victory for the former vice president.

Oklahoma’s 37 pledged delegates are a slightly lower number than Puerto Rico, hardly enough to swing the outcome. It is a reliably Republican state in the general election, so success in the primary is in no way predictive of success in November.

Yet Biden’s win here matters for his campaign. His argument is that he is the leading moderate alternative to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, edging out billionaire Mike Bloomberg after his strong South Carolina performance. Biden needs to convince Bloomberg to drop out so he can continue uniting the anti-Sanders forces in the party around his candidacy. For that, every state victory helps.

In Oklahoma, the polling was sparse and wildly variable, with Bloomberg, Biden, and Sanders all clustered around the top. A last-minute poll from Data for Progress showed Biden up by 7 points. His victory here is a direct triumph over these two top-tier rivals, a sign of life for a campaign that some had written off as recently as mid-February.

It is hardly decisive — again, the delegate haul is small, especially compared to Super Tuesday behemoths like California and neighboring Texas — but it’s definitely a state that the Biden campaign is happy to claim as its own.

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