Former Vice President Joe Biden defeated Sen. Bernie Sanders in Illinois' Democratic primary for president on Tuesday, a contest with a sizable impact on the race, the Associated Press projects.
From one of the largest candidate fields in U.S. history, just three presidential hopefuls remained by the time Illinoisans headed to the polls: Biden, Sanders and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, though the first two had far more robust and viable campaigns. All three appeared on the Illinois ballot, as did the names of nine other candidates who had already dropped out before election day.
The race between Biden and Sanders looked to be competitive from the start, with both candidates visiting the Land of Lincoln and paying particular attention to Chicago. Biden served alongside the city's favorite son, former President Barack Obama. But Sanders nearly pulled off an upset in the state four years earlier, losing to Hillary Clinton by less than 2 points in the 2016 Democratic primary for president.
The Democratic nominee will be officially selected by delegates in July at the party’s convention in Milwaukee. To win the nomination on the first ballot, a candidate must have locked up support from a simple majority of the 3,979 pledged delegates, which would be 1,991. That does not include automatic delegates (members of each state’s Congressional delegation and other elected officials or dignitaries) who, under a new rule, cannot vote in the first round if it will change the outcome of the state’s vote.
Illinois’ election day fell on March 17 - exactly two weeks after what’s known as “Super Tuesday,” when 16 primaries or caucuses were held with more than 1,300 delegates up for grabs at once, including 415 from delegate-rich California and 228 from Texas. More than 1,800 delegates total were allocated before Illinois votes - not enough to clinch the nomination.
Illinois has 184 total delegates, 155 of which are allocated by the race results. That total is the sixth-highest of all 50 states, making Illinois an important target for the candidates.
Illinois’ primary election was held at the same time as Arizona, Florida and Ohio, with March 17 marking the first day a majority of delegates will have been allocated - potentially a pivotal moment in an already historic election.