Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., departs Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 18, 2020, after the Senate passed a second coronavirus response bill. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) Bernie Sanders
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., departs Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 18, 2020, after the Senate passed a second coronavirus response bill. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Sanders’ calls for broadly popular ideas like Medicare for All, a $15 minimum wage, and a Green New Deal have shifted the debate and spurred a new generation of activists and progressive lawmakers into action. 

Bernie Sanders has ended his campaign for president.

Sanders, the 78-year-old senator from Vermont who built a nationwide movement with his calls for a “political revolution,” shared the news during an all-staff call on Wednesday morning and plans to hold a livestream to address supporters at 11:45 a.m. EST.

Sanders’ announcement comes after weeks of speculation about whether he would drop out, or remain in the primary race, which has been completely upended by the coronavirus pandemic in recent weeks. Several states have postponed their primary election dates until May and June and both Sanders and his competitor, former Vice President Joe Biden have struggled to break through as the coronavirus has, understandably, become the sole focus for many Americans.

Wednesday’s announcement makes it all but official that Joe Biden will take on President Donald Trump as the Democratic party’s nominee in November.

Sanders’ announcement marks the end of what was a remarkable campaign in which he was the frontrunner as recently as late February. But Biden’s decisive victory in South Carolina on Feb. 29 and the consolidation of the primary field in the following days shifted momentum away from Sanders toward Biden. Biden went on to dominate Super Tuesday and the following week’s primaries on March 10 and had clearly become the de facto nominee by the time the coronavirus more or less put the remaining primary contests on hold.

For the second presidential election cycle in a row, Sanders generated enormous grassroots enthusiasm and consistently outraised his competitors, despite foregoing all PAC donations. Sanders had some success in the West, winning California, Nevada, Utah, and California, and performed extremely well with young and Latino voters. But, much like in 2016, the senator failed to win over Black voters, a key voting bloc in the Democratic primaries.

Sanders’ weakness with Black voters was particularly evident in the South, where they handed Biden key victories across the board in states like Alabama, Arkansas, and Tennessee. Unlike in 2016, Sanders also struggled in the Midwest, losing states that he had previously won, like Michigan and Minnesota

Sanders’ announcement that he’s suspending his campaign represents a blow for the progressive movement, but his impact on the Democratic Party has nonetheless been felt across the board. Sanders’ calls for broadly popular ideas like Medicare for All, a $15 minimum wage, and a Green New Deal have shifted the debate entirely and spurred a new generation of activists and progressive lawmakers into action. 

The self-described Democratic Socialist may have once again failed to earn the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, but he has made clear that he will do everything he can to help Biden defeat Donald Trump, while also continuing to fight for progressive causes.