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Democrats are coalescing around Biden — except for young voters

But young people aren’t turning out in enough numbers to turn the tide for Sanders.

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders greet each other at the Democratic presidential debate on March 15, 2020 in Washington, DC.
AFP via Getty Images

Democratic primary voters are coalescing around former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign, except for, it seems, younger voters.

According to Washington Post exit poll data, Biden won nearly every voter demographic Tuesday — and in particular, continued to showcase his strength among black voters. Biden carried the black voters in Illinois and Florida by 38 and 60 percentage point margins, respectively.

But Biden continues to struggle with young voters. The former vice president performed best with that demographic in Florida, where he lost voters ages 18-44 to Sen. Bernie Sanders by a 13 percentage point margin; in Illinois, Sanders’s advantage among the group was 37 percentage points — and in Arizona, the senator bested Biden by 52 percentage points. In each state, however, Biden made up for those losses with dominant performances among voters over age 45 — in Florida, for instance, he won 71 percent of that group’s votes, to Sanders’s 11 percent.

Also helping Biden was the fact that young people just aren’t turning out in the kind of numbers Sanders needed to be competitive in the delegate count. In Illinois, 39 percent of voters were under 44, compared to the 61 percent that were age 45 and older.

Nonetheless, Biden tried to an extend an olive branch to young voters Tuesday night who continue to turn out for his challenger. “To the young voters” who have gravitated toward Sanders, Biden said, “I hear you, I know what’s at stake ... Sen. Sanders and I may disagree on tactics, but we share a common vision,” Biden said, before listing off a set of policy goals he has in common with Sanders, including affordable health care and climate change.

Despite continuing to lose with young voters, the rest of the Democratic electorate appears to be joining the Biden coalition. He even won, albeit narrowly, among Latino voters in Arizona, a group Sanders had shown considerable strength with — particularly in neighboring Nevada on February 22.

Biden also won among both men and women. While he lost among voters who consider climate change or income inequality to be the most important issue, he did carry voters who were most concerned about health care, a key priority as the country deals with the coronavirus pandemic.

As more and more states delay primaries to prevent further spread of the virus, there’s still potentially time for an unforeseen event to shake up the race. But it certainly appears as if most Democrats have made up their minds on who they believe should be their party’s presidential nominee.

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