WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Joe Biden has won the Virginia Democratic primary, according to an NBC News projection. The win may portend a strong showing for Biden on Tuesday night, when Democratic voters will award more delegates than on any other night of the primary.
Virginia has 99 delegates to award on Tuesday. Biden was projected to win at least 51 of them, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to win at least 19, according to an NBC News projection. This number will be updated throughout the night on CNBC's Super Tuesday live blog.
Biden came into Tuesday's contest in the state with a commanding lead in the polls over his nearest rivals, the result of a massive upsurge in support over the past few days. The surge allowed Biden to surpass both Sanders and former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg in state polls.
Biden's gains followed his decisive victory in South Carolina's primary over the weekend, the first primary below the Mason-Dixon Line. As recently as March 1, the polling average for Virginia at FiveThirtyEight.com showed Sanders leading Biden by 5 points.
But all that changed on Monday, when fresh polls came out that showed Biden riding high. Biden's prospects may also be boosted by the announcements by former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., in the past 48 hours that they would drop out of the race and endorse the former vice president.
In 2016's Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton defeated Sanders in Virginia by nearly 30 points.
Bloomberg has targeted Virginia, which has a history of electing moderate Democrats. Virginia is the type of state that Bloomberg would need to do well in if he hoped to make a convincing argument to voters, and Democratic delegates, that he's a viable alternative to Sanders.
In addition to spending millions of dollars in recent years helping Democrats get elected across the Old Dominion state, Bloomberg invested in a massive campaign operation there ahead of Tuesday's primary, with seven field offices and at least 80 staffers, the largest of any Democrat in the race.
But so far, Bloomberg's efforts have yielded little in the way of endorsements, despite his having led for a few days last month in FiveThirtyEight.com's average of Virginia polling.
Over the weekend, two of the state's most prominent Democrats, Sen. Tim Kaine and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, both endorsed Biden. He has also been endorsed by Reps. Bobby Scott, Jennifer Wexton, Elaine Luria, Donald McEachin and Don Beyer, all D-Va.