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Bernie Sanders leads in early returns in biggest Texas counties

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders addresses supporters while accompanied by his relatives, including his wife Jane, at his Super Tuesday night rally in Essex Junction, Vermont on March 3, 2020. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs

As statewide results trickled in Tuesday night, Bernie Sanders had built a solid lead in the early vote in Texas’ five most populous counties, according to unofficial returns from the individual counties, but many votes still needed to be counted across the state.

In those five counties, Sanders had 31% of the early vote, and Biden had 22%. Those early returns, however, don’t include votes cast on election day, which came after much of the Democratic establishment rallied around former Vice President Joe Biden after the South Carolina primary.

Sanders maintained a strong lead over Biden in Travis, Bexar and Tarrant counties, and he barely trailed Biden in Harris County. Biden held his biggest lead over the Democratic senator from Vermont in Dallas County, according to early returns. Statewide numbers were slow to come in Tuesday evening, and some voters were still waiting in line to cast their ballots in Harris County two hours after the polls closed.

In Texas, polls conducted before election day gave Sanders a lead over Biden, but Biden’s decisive victory in the South Carolina primary on Saturday raised the former vice president’s hopes for the state.

Sanders, speaking to jubilant supporters after winning his home state of Vermont, predicted a landslide victory in other states across the nation.

“We’re doing well in Texas right now,” Sanders triumphantly declared.

Biden, meanwhile, didn’t appear to concede defeat in the Lone Star State.

“We won Minnesota because of Amy Klobuchar. And we’re doing well in Texas because of Beto O’Rourke,” Biden said from Los Angeles.

In the run-up to election day, the many of the Democratic Party’s centrist forces rallied together in an effort to stop Sanders, a self-proclaimed democratic socialist, from securing the Democratic nomination. Former rivals Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar shuttered their respective White House bids Monday night and announced their support for Biden during a rally in Dallas. O’Rourke, the former congressman from El Paso, also endorsed Biden.

Candidates need 15% of the vote to pick up delegates statewide. They can also pick up delegates by winning 15% of the vote in individual state Senate districts. Total delegate hauls likely won’t be available until Wednesday.