IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

March 17 Democratic primaries live updates: Biden sweeps Sanders as coronavirus casts shadow over vote

Tuesday's primaries were the first since Trump declared a national emergency over the coronavirus outbreak.

Joe Biden defeated Bernie Sanders in Florida, Illinois and Arizona, NBC News projected Tuesday, opening up a nearly insurmountable delegate lead.

In Ohio, polls were ordered closed as a public health measure after a judge declined the governor's request to postpone the election. But contests in the other three states proceeded as scheduled Tuesday despite widespread fears over the rapidly spreading coronavirus pandemic.

The outbreak, which has sickened more than 5,000 people in the U.S., is thrusting the Democratic primary into uncertainty, with some states postponing their elections and the candidates forgoing rallies for virtual events.

Highlights from the March 17 Democratic primaries:

Live Blog

Arizona sees high voter turnout despite coronavirus fears

The number of in-person voters in Maricopa County taking part in the state’s Democratic presidential preference primary today has surpassed the number who took part at the county level for the 2016 Democratic presidential preference primary, Maricopa County Elections Department spokeswoman Megan Gilbertson told NBC News.

Maricopa County accounts for more than half of the state’s registered Democratic voters. This is especially notable because the Democratic race was more competitive in and the high Democratic turnout took place despite coronavirus concerns and despite the county closing one-third of its polling locations over the weekend.

Biden wins Illinois, NBC News projects

Biden defeated Sanders on Tuesday in the Illinois Democratic primary, NBC News projects.

That's more good news for the former vice president, with NBC News projecting a big win for him in Florida over Sanders earlier in the evening. Results from Arizona's primary are still to come. 

According to the NBC News delegate count, Biden is now more than halfway to clinching the Democratic presidential nomination and has surpassed 1,000 delegates.

NBC News Primary Poll: Older, moderate and black voters drive Biden's win in Illinois

Joe Biden won Illinois' Democratic primary on Tuesday, beating Bernie Sanders with support from groups that have helped Biden claim other primary victories this year, according to an NBC News Primary Poll.

In Illinois, Biden won the support of voters age 45 and older, those who identify as moderate or conservative and black voters. 

He also won the support of Illinois voters who oppose Medicare for All, as well as those who said the quality that matters most in a candidate is someone who can unite the country and voters who said they are very concerned about the effects of the coronavirus outbreak. 

Read more on the NBC News Primary Poll.

Biden opens up commanding delegate lead over Sanders

WASHINGTON — Joe Biden is poised to walk away from Tuesday's primaries with a nearly insurmountable delegate lead over Bernie Sanders after winning Florida, one of the biggest states of the primary calendar, according to NBC News projections.

The former vice president now has 269 more delegates than the Vermont senator, 1,047 delegates to Sanders' 778, as of 9:00 p.m. ET.

Biden is now past the halfway mark to the 1,991 delegates he would need to win a majority of all delegates, and thus capture the Democratic presidential nomination.

Read the full story here.

Trump is now the presumptive GOP nominee, NBC News projects

President Donald Trump is the Republican Party's presumptive presidential nominee, NBC News projects.

NBC News made the call after projecting Trump the victor in the Florida and Illinois Republican primaries.

Those projected wins put him over the threshold of delegates needed to officially become the party’s nominee. 

NBC News Primary Poll: 1 in 5 Sanders voters in Illinois can’t guarantee they’ll support Democratic nominee

One in 5 supporters of Bernie Sanders in Illinois can’t guarantee that they will vote for the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee in November, regardless of who that may be, according to results from the NBC News Primary Poll.

In contrast, just 6 percent of Joe Biden’s supporters in Tuesday's Illinois Democratic primary said the same. 

Read more on the NBC News Primary Poll. 

Sanders tackles coronavirus in primary night speech

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., on Tuesday outlined his coronavirus proposals in a speech from his campaign headquarters in Washington, D.C. — items that include sending households $2,000 a month for the duration of the crisis.

Sanders opened his address by saying the country was "facing an unprecedented series of crises" that he believes will require a $2 trillion stimulus to avoid "economic catastrophe."

His lengthy list of proposals included government covering all coronavirus-related medical bills, speed up testing, invoke emergency powers to scale up production of supplies like surgical masks and ventilators, and provide substantial unemployment insurance to those who lose jobs as a result of the outbreak.

Sanders enters Tuesday's primaries trailing frontrunner Joe Biden in the NBC News projected delegate count.

NBC News Primary Poll: Biden wins Florida with support from older, moderate and black voters

Joe Biden won Florida's Democratic primary Tuesday night with help from his core constituency: voters age 45 and older, black voters and voters who identify as moderate or conservative. 

Biden also won 83 percent of voters who said the quality that matters most in a candidate is someone who can unite the country, according to an NBC News Primary Poll. The NBC News Decision Desk projected at 8 p.m. ET, when polls closed, that Biden would beat Bernie Sanders in the Florida primary. 

Biden was also the clear favorite among Florida voters who oppose Medicare for All, as well as those who want to return to former President Barack Obama’s policies. 


Read more on the NBC News Primary Poll.

Biden wins Florida, NBC News projects, but Illinois to early to call

Joe Biden wins the Florida Democratic primary, NBC News projects. 

The Illinois Democratic primary is too early to call, according to NBC News.

With 77 percent of the Florida vote counted, Biden led Sanders 61 percent to 23 percent.

In Florida, 219 pledged delegates are up for grabs, making it the biggest prize of the contests on Tuesday night.

As of 8:10 p.m., Biden had received 126 of the state's delegates, while Sanders was awarded 17, according to NBC News.

In Illinois, 155 pledged delegates are at stake.

NBC News Primary Poll: Democratic voters want a candidate who can beat Trump

In line with other Democratic primary contest this year, a majority of voters on Tuesday across Florida, Arizona and Illinois said they would rather see the Democratic Party nominate a candidate who can beat President Donald Trump over someone who agrees with them on the issues, according to results from the NBC News Primary Poll.

In Florida, 66 percent of Democratic primary voters said they would rather someone who can beat Trump, compared to 65 percent in Arizona and 61 percent in Illinois.

Voters under 45 in those three states were more split than those over 45. Still, the majority of younger voters, too, said they preferred a candidate who can beat Trump. 

Read more on the NBC News Primary Poll.

NBC News Primary Poll: Florida voters trust Biden over Sanders to handle Social Security

A majority of Florida Democratic primary voters trust Joe Biden more than Bernie Sanders to handle Social Security, according to an NBC News Primary Poll.

Fifty-nine percent said they would trust Biden to handle Social Security, while 37 percent said they would trust Sanders.

Read more on the NBC News Primary Poll.