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Biden now a 99% favorite to win the Democratic nomination

One of the most ridiculous graphs I’ve ever seen. As recently as February 23, Bernie was close to 50 percent odds of winning the nomination outright, without needing a contested convention to do it. Sixteen days later his probability of doing that has dipped to … 0.1 percent. He and Tulsi Gabbard now have basically equal chances of winning a majority of pledged delegates.

Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean, that really got out of hand fast.

Ed has a big election thread coming up about tonight’s primaries and of course we’ll have live results as the returns come in. But my read on it is that it’s likely to be all over by 8 p.m. ET — and when I say “all over,” I mean the entire primary campaign, not just this evening’s results. Michigan’s polls close at 8. If Biden crushes him so badly there that the race can be called immediately, it means all hope of a national comeback for Bernie is lost. He’d have gotten routed in the midwest, a stronghold for him four years ago. He’s gotten routed across the deep south lately. He lost a northeastern battleground in Massachusetts to Biden last week. Next week he’s staring at a mega-landslide in Florida and a beating in the southwest in Arizona, whose large Latino minority is supposed to make him competitive.

He has no regional strength anywhere except the west coast, and that could go up in smoke tonight:

Even California, Bernie’s biggest victory, is less impressive than it once seemed. The final polls there predicted that he’d win by 12. As the returns have continued to trickle in, his margin has gradually shrunk to seven points. There’s every reason to believe that if California didn’t have such extensive early voting, the huge last-second burst of Joementum from Biden’s win in South Carolina would have made California a tight race, if not a Biden victory.

And so Bernie desperately needs a big win to beat back the narrative that Democrats nationally have made up their minds and chosen their nominee. Winning Washington state would be nice but it’d hard to tout that as a moral victory if Biden takes the other five. He needs Michigan, the site of his biggest upset in 2016 and a state that would prove he, not Joe, is best suited to compete with Trump for Rust Belt voters this fall. If instead Michigan is called for Biden early, it’s game over.

Based on FiveThirtyEight’s probability model of tonight’s race, the odds of a Sanders comeback in Michigan and elsewhere aren’t, uh, great.

Any defeat in Michigan would be bad but a 51/49 loss is obviously far preferable to a 60/40 one. If Bernie loses by two, he can walk out tonight and claim that this is still very much an ongoing argument among Democratic voters. If he loses by 20, he’s not fooling anyone. And given the health risks posed to people in upcoming states by attending rallies and turning out at polling places, he’s going to come under heavy pressure not to prolong the now inevitable outcome of the nomination process.

Which means we’re likely to be talking about VP picks tomorrow. Jonathan Last is way ahead of us:

Last night a friend asked me why Elizabeth Warren hadn’t endorsed Bernie yet. The answer, I think, is that Warren now wants to be Biden’s VP and in order to be an attractive candidate, she needs to retain friendly ties to the progressive wing of the party without having said out loud that she prefers Sanders to Biden.

That’s the sort of cynical gamesmanship you expect from a normal politician and not really the thing you expect from the candidate who is going to FIGHT FOR CHANGE NO MATTER WHAT!

But whatevs. Warren is what she is.

Yeah, Biden/Warren is possible. The theory with Joe has always been that he’d need a woman of color on the ticket (no, Warren doesn’t count) like Kamala Harris or Stacey Abrams as a nod to the racial diversity of the party’s base, but I don’t know. He’s so popular with black voters that he might not be hurt by choosing a white woman, whether Warren or Amy Klobuchar. It may depend on how bitter progressives seem about the primary come summer. If the Berniebros are in Never Biden mode, he’ll lean towards Warren as a (ineffective) pander. If they’re more or less grudgingly reconciled to supporting him, he might tilt towards Klobuchar. She’d make the most sense for him geographically, I think. Her presence on the ticket would almost singlehandedly ensure that Minnesota stays blue this fall and she might be worth something to Biden in other key midwestern states like Wisconsin.

Here he is last night hinting that he might veto Medicare for All as president if Congress somehow found the votes to get it to his desk. He wouldn’t, of course, but this is the right answer considering that there’s no chance of Congress having those votes anytime soon. Biden wants to deprive Trump of the talking point that Democrats are prepared to torch private health insurance. Implying that Joe himself would torpedo M4A — on fiscally conservative grounds, no less — is a dramatic way of doing that, even if it pisses the Berniebros off.