Sen. Bernie Sanders just pulled off his least surprising victory of the 2020 primary: He won his home state of Vermont.
The state is one of the 15 states and territories to hold their primaries on Super Tuesday, and there was never any real doubt it would go to anyone but Sanders. The FiveThirtyEight polling average for Vermont showed him leading the field with 53 percent support; his nearest challenger, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, was almost 40 points back with 14.2 percent.
Polls closed in the state at 7 pm ET, and while not all the results have been reported, the only question now is how many delegates to the Democratic National Convention Sanders will receive. Vermont has 16 on offer, and Sanders is certain to claim at least the majority of them.
In 2016, Sanders defeated eventual Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by more than 70 points in Vermont and won all 16 delegates.
The win comes as Sanders looks to solidify his claim as frontrunner for the Democratic nomination with a strong Super Tuesday performance. Delegate-rich California and Texas, which also vote on Super Tuesday, are particular targets: Sanders leads the FiveThirtyEight polling average in both states.
If he does well in those places and across the rest of the Super Tuesday map, he could be on track to amass an insurmountable plurality of delegates. If he doesn’t do well, though, it could give Biden — whose candidacy was rejuvenated by a commanding win in South Carolina — a path to reclaim the mantle of frontrunner.
Sanders returned to Vermont on Tuesday to cast a vote himself (presumably also for himself) and to hold a campaign rally.
While candidates winning their home states is frequently seen as a foregone conclusion, it’s not guaranteed — Sanders himself is pressing 2020 rival Warren in her home state of Massachusetts, which will vote on Super Tuesday. The Vermont senator is currently leading Warren in the FiveThirtyEight polling average for Massachusetts by better than 5 points.
Sanders, 78, has been a singular figure in Vermont politics for well over 40 years now, with a long track record of electoral success in the state, despite a rocky start. He began his career with a failed run for the US Senate in 1972 before serving as the mayor of Burlington from 1981 to 1989. He was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1990 and served there for 16 years before winning a Senate seat in 2006.
Now, Sanders has a real shot at winning the Democratic nomination for president.