The 2020 Democratic primaries for the U.S. presidency have been a series of contests that resulted in an unprecedented primary season of biblical proportions. The majority of the competitions this year were carried out while the United States was also fighting against the threat of a virus that has already claimed the lives of thousands of Americans, as well as creating a surge of adverse situations across the country.
Overall, there were 29 major Democratic presidential candidates in the 2020 election, and for six weeks around July 2019, 25 of these had active campaigns simultaneously. On April 8, Former Vice President Joe Biden became the presumptive nominee after Sen. Bernie Sanders, the only other major candidate left, suspended his campaign and endorsed Biden a few days later. In early June 2020, Biden passed the threshold of 1,991 delegates to gain the nomination at the 2020 Democratic National Convention to be held later in August in Wisconsin.
Feb 3, Iowa: While the 2020 Democratic primary elections have been shaken by the threat and devastation of COVID-19, the primary season commenced by marking a significant moment in history for LGBTQ America, as Pete Buttigieg became the very first openly-gay candidate to win the Iowa Caucus. This represents how far the LGBTQ community has come in recent decades. Even before Buttigieg’s victory, to simply have an openly-gay individual run for president shows that attitudes in the U.S. toward diversity and the idea of having diverse presidential candidates are changing.
Feb 11, New Hampshire: New Hampshire’s primary was a semi-closed primary where only Democrats and independent voters were able to cast their votes. The state provided 33 delegates to the national convention, 24 of whom are pledged delegates based on the outcome of the primary. The remaining nine delegates are un-pledged delegates (super delegates) pre-selected independently of the primary results. Sanders won the New Hampshire primary with 25.6 percent of the vote.
Feb. 22, Nevada: Looking back now, the idea of Sanders suspending his race so soon did not seem very likely at the time. The Nevada Caucus was the third contest to take place where Sanders won against the now-presumptive Democratic nominee Biden, despite irregularities following the release of the caucus results. Sanders won by a substantial margin, as no other candidate had crossed the 15 percent vote threshold within the entire state.
Feb. 29, South Carolina: Biden won the South Carolina Democratic primary, which was the fourth competition and netted him with 39 of the 64 delegates in his climb to the his party’s nomination. Sanders received 15.
Super Tuesday — March 3, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia: Super Tuesday has traditionally played a significant role in the primaries by allotting the highest number of delegates (1,344) to the Democratic party’s National Convention, as well as also being an opportunity for candidates to win up to one-third of the total number of delegates (4,765). The smorgasbord of competitions this year resulted in Biden securing his position as the new frontrunner in the 2020 Democratic primaries by winning 10 out of the 14 states who participated in contests that day.
March 17, Ohio: Ohio’s primary elections were originally scheduled to take place on March 17 but were postponed just hours before voting polls were to open in response to the public health crisis brought on by the novel coronavirus threat. Gov. Mike DeWine changed the date for all in-person voting in Ohio to be carried out on June 2 but this was eventually changed to a mail-in-only voting system as a result of a statewide stay-at-home order.
March 17, Arizona, Florida, Illinois: The process of the Democratic nomination continued on March 17 with three Democratic primaries and caucuses being held in Arizona, Florida and Illinois. In the midst of the current crisis of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with the exception of Ohio postponing their primary, the Democratic primaries scheduled for March 17 were carried out on schedule. Biden took all three, with 41 percentage points in Florida, 28.4 percentage points in Illinois and 23.8 percentage points in Arizona, and winning at least 239 delegates compared to Bernie Sanders winning 102. Following his wins of all three of the primaries held on March 17, Biden spoke from his Wilmington, Del. home, saying, “his campaign had a very good night,” and also spoke on the coronavirus crisis, telling Americans that, “it’s important to get through this crisis protecting both the public health and our democracy.”
April 4, Wyoming: The Wyoming caucuses were originally scheduled to take place on April 4 but were canceled and held using ranked-choice mail-in voting. The ballot drop-off and mail-in due dates were originally April 4, but with the threat of COVID-19, the state removed the ballot drop-off option and changed the caucuses to mail-in-only voting. An extended deadline of April 17 was also provided to allow more voters the opportunity to participate in the primaries. When the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries began in Iowa on Feb. 3 there were 24 candidates, and by the Wyoming caucuses, there was only one candidate left in the race to the Democratic nomination for U.S. president.
April 4, Alaska: The Alaska Democratic primary was scheduled to take place on April 4 but moved to April 10, but like Wyoming, canceled all in-person voting opting to mail-in-only voting. Biden also took Alaska’s Democratic primary winning 55.3 percent of the vote to 44.7 percent by Sanders.
April 7, Wisconsin: The Cheese State received a great deal of backlash after holding its scheduled in-person primary, which was advised against for health concerns related to COVID-19. Gov. Tony Evers made efforts to postpone the state’s primary until July 9 and to extend the deadline for mail-in and absentee ballots but was rebuffed. Among other things, accessibility to voting polls was a major issue, according to Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David. He noted that transgender and black voters were at a significant disadvantage due to the limited access to voting polls in urban areas, as well many voters not having received their absentee ballots despite requesting them in a timely manner.
May 2, Kansas: Kansas held mail-in voting from March 20 through April 24, but also held an in-person primary on May 2, which was also the state’s very first primary, as the state had previously held caucuses. Biden took the Kansas Democratic primary at 76.9 percent. Sanders, who suspended his campaign and was now endorsing Biden, won the remaining 23.1 percent.
May 12, Nebraska: While primaries had become a challenging endeavor amid the state of emergency the U.S. is currently under, Nebraska demonstrated fortitude in the face of a global pandemic by holding a successful and record-breaking primary election. Biden won the state’s Democratic primary at 76.9 percent.
May 22, Hawaii: Voting for the Hawaii primary was done entirely by mail with the final day being May 22. The state’s primary was originally scheduled to take place on April 4 but was canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Biden won the Aloha state’s primary with 63.2 percent of the final vote. Sanders took the remaining 36.8 percent of the state’s vote.
June 2, Rhode Island, New Mexico, Indiana, Maryland, Montana, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Washington D.C.: In the midst of nationwide hysteria with sprees of protests ensuing all over the country, the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries for seven states and Washington D.C. were in the works. Coined as the second Super Tuesday, seven states and the District of Columbia carried out contests which some states had already postponed in response to COVID-19. After the results from the competitions were released, it was announced that Biden had become the presumptive Democratic nominee for the 2020 presidential election.
June 23, New York, Kentucky: Despite Biden’s lack of need for more delegates, he won the Empire State’s primary as well as Kentucky’s. Biden led by 56 percent of the vote in Kentucky compared to Sanders who won 12 percent of reporting precincts. In New York’s primary Biden led with 67 percent of the vote, while Sanders held the 19 percent, less one percent of precincts unreported.
July 7, Delaware, New Jersey: The Delaware Democratic primary was originally scheduled to take place on April 28 and then June 2. At this point, Biden had already received 2,144 delegates and only needed 1,991 delegates in order to qualify to win the party nomination. The New Jersey Democratic primary is a semi-closed primary, with the state awarding 147 delegates, of which 126 are pledged delegates allocated on the basis of the results of the primary. Biden won Delaware’s primary against his two opponents — Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.