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Winning decisive victories in Florida, Illinois, and Arizona, Joe Biden amassed a formidable lead over Bernie Sanders on Tuesday night, under the shadow of the spreading coronavirus pandemic.

The former vice president defeated the Vermont senator by wide margins in every state, which meant that by the evening’s end he had amassed 1,068 pledged delegates to only 771 for Sanders, according to ABC News. That is a lead many analysts regarded as almost mathematically insurmountable, requiring Sanders to win 60 percent of all delegates in the remaining states. But with many state parties postposing the contests that remain, it isn’t clear how or when Biden will be able to reach a majority before June.

In Florida, Biden won by nearly 40 points. He took Illinois by almost 24 points and Arizona by nearly 13 points, as Sanders underperformed his 2016 vote in all three states. Sanders offered no hint on Tuesday night as to whether he will heed increasing calls by Democrats for him to concede the primary and begin to build party unity against President Trump — or continue his campaign until the convention in July. Uncertainty caused by the national health emergency has led his own surrogates and advisers to suggest that he should press on.

In Illinois, progressive candidate Marie Newman won her second challenge to conservative Democrat Rep. Dan Lipinski, making him the first member of Congress to lose his seat in 2020.

Biden spoke on Tuesday night briefly after the results began to come in.

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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, left, and former President Donald Trump.

Photo by Kevin McCarthy (Public domain)

In the professional stratum of politics, few verities are treated with more reverence than the outcome of next year's midterm, when the Republican Party is deemed certain to recapture majorities in the House and Senate. With weary wisdom, any pol or pundit will cite the long string of elections that buttress this prediction.

Political history also tells us that many factors can influence an electoral result, including a national crisis or a change in economic conditions — in other words, things can change and even midterm elections are not entirely foretold. There have been a few exceptions to this rule, too.

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