AUGUSTA, Maine — Former Vice President Joe Biden won Maine’s Democratic presidential primary on Tuesday in a narrow, but stunning upset over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in a state in which Biden ran no ads and had next to no campaign infrastructure.
Biden led with 34.3 percent of votes in Maine to Sanders’ 33.1 percent as he asserted himself as the new frontrunner on Super Tuesday with nearly 88 percent of municipalities reporting to the Bangor Daily News. The BDN and its national election results partner, Decision Desk HQ, called the race for Biden on Wednesday at 9 a.m.
Candidates must reach 15 percent in Maine or one of its congressional districts to win any delegates to the Democratic National Convention. Biden, Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren are expected to win at least 10, nine and two delegates, respectively, in Maine, which was among the 14 states voting on Super Tuesday in the Democratic nominating race to face President Donald Trump.
It was a surprising result for Biden, who won Texas and Massachusetts to cement front-runner status nationally. Sanders won California, the state carrying the most delegates. Biden ran no campaign in Maine and Massachusetts while Sanders and Warren organized here for months.
Portland City Councilor Spencer Thibodeau, one of only a few public officials in Maine to endorse Biden, said he was “pleasantly surprised” by the former vice president’s performance in Maine, adding that the results showed that voters found his message impactful.
“We’re going to bring together all Americans,” Biden told reporters in Los Angeles on Wednesday. “We showed that last night.”
The result on Tuesday was a sharp reversal from a Colby College survey released in mid-February in which Biden polled at just 12 percent, trailing Sanders, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The primary was roiled over a three-day period from Saturday to Monday after Buttigieg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and billionaire activist Tom Steyer all dropped out of the race. Buttigieg and Klobuchar endorsed Biden. Some of their prominent Maine supporters followed them, including State Treasurer Henry Beck, who originally backed Buttigieg.