Voter Decision-Making in the Democratic Primaries

Wednesday, March 11, 2020


Voter Decision-Making: How Did We End Up Here?

Former Vice President Joe Biden won important primary victories Tuesday in Michigan, Idaho, Mississippi and Missouri. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders won North Dakota. Washington State has still not been called, but as of Wednesday morning, the race was tight. Biden has showed success building a coalition of African Americans, rural white voters and suburbanites who previously had backed Sanders. Near his Philadelphia campaign headquarters, Biden said Tuesday’s vote was “another good night” and “a step closer to restoring decency, dignity and honor to the White House.” Biden now leads the delegate count at 843 to Sanders’s 681. The two candidates debate this Sunday in Phoenix. Watch the video and answer the questions. You can turn on the “CC” (closed-captions) function. If short on time, watch the first 5 minutes to hear about the Michigan primary.



If time allows, read NewsHour’s: Weighing Biden vs. Sanders? Compare where they stand on key issues


results form march 10 primaries: how did voter decision-making influence the electorate?


Voter Decision-Making: Discussion Questions 

  1. Essential question: How do voters decide which candidates they will support in the primaries?
  2. How many states voted on Tuesday? Why was Michigan seen as a battleground state?
  3. Why do you think Joe Biden won so many states on Tuesday night? Why do you think Bernie Sanders had a hard night?
  4. What are key factors in voters’ minds at the polls this primary season?
  5. Why are other candidates’ names still on the delegate count?
  6. What does Sanders have to do in order to win the primaries? What are the chances of that happening?
  7. Take a look at the following charts from Michigan’s primary. What do you notice? Why do you think the breakdowns in age and race have occurred in the way they have?






8. Media literacy: Do you think the news media influences voters? Explain. Check out a variety of news outlets in order to hear different perspectives (progressive news outlets like The Young Turks and The Hill’s Rising and mainstream outlets like MSNBC and CNN). How did they report the news of Tuesday night’s primaries? Do you think the coverage was fair? What did you learn that you didn’t know before about the candidates?

This article was originally published by PBS NewsHour Extra and can be found here.