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Bernie Sanders' ceiling and Joe Biden's 'Avengers'

CNN projects Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders will win the state of Utah and former Vice President Joe Biden will win Massachusetts.

Posted: Mar 4, 2020 9:18 AM
Updated: Mar 4, 2020 9:30 PM


Joe Biden's comeback is one for the history books. A week ago, pundits were predicting his political demise. But 72 hours between his big South Carolina win and Super Tuesday changed the trajectory of this race entirely.

What have we learned from the March 3 voting? Dig into the exit polls to get a sense of the wave caused by the center lane solidifying behind Biden and the very real ceiling Bernie Sanders faces on the far left.

Take a look at the 10-out-of-14 states Biden won: turnout was up basically across the board, with Virginia up 69% from the 2016 primary and Texas turnout up by a half-million votes.

Biden's win came from overwhelming African American support and from voters over 45. But the real insights come from the fact that Biden dominated the 60-70% of Democratic primary voters who describe themselves as 'somewhat liberal' or 'moderate.' Sanders won 'very liberal' voters consistently -- which makes sense for a self-described democratic socialist - but they only made up roughly a quarter of Democratic primary voters.

This reflects the fact that Democratic contenders Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar -- both midwestern centrists -- decided to bow out of the race before Super Tuesday and throw their support behind Biden. This group was dubbed 'the moderate Avengers' on CNN's New Day in an exchange with Wajahat Ali. But catchy pop-culture references aside, this speedy circling of the wagons is exactly the disciplined country-over-ego move that center-right Republican candidates didn't make when they watched the rise of Donald Trump.

But Bernie Sanders' biggest problem is that his support seems to have hit a ceiling. Sanders promised to expand the electoral map by attracting new voters -- but that hasn't happened so far. Instead, he's getting fewer votes in many states than he did four years ago. For example, he won Oklahoma four years ago but lost decisively to Biden this year. Sanders won his home state of Vermont with 50.7% of the vote -- but that was down from 86% four years before.

Yes, Sanders had a big win in Colorado but that was disproportionately due to early voting, where according to the Secretary of State's office roughly 75% of the votes cast came in before March 3. So the momentum from Biden's South Carolina win was not fully reflected.

In the wake of Biden's Super Tuesday surge, Mike Bloomberg decided to bow out of the race and throw his considerable financial weight behind the former vice president for the duration of the campaign. It's a smart, data-driven move considering the fact that Biden and Bloomberg were competing for many of the same voters in the center of the electorate -- and Biden's Super Tuesday margins would have been even bigger if Bloomberg's votes crossed over into his column.

Bloomberg's boost could be critical for the rest of the primary and especially for defeating Donald Trump in the fall.

This race is far from over. The biggest Super Tuesday delegate prize, California, still has not been declared -- and could take weeks to complete. But Sanders seems in strong shape in large part due to early voting. That could also benefit Sanders in next week's Washington State primary, where voters only vote by mail. But Michigan's vote next week will be a key test -- it's a state Sanders stunned the political world by winning over Hillary Clinton in 2016. And it will be a must-win for Democrats against Donald Trump in the fall.

What we're watching is more than the center rallying around Joe Biden. And it's a mistake to call this coalition 'the establishment' or say that they're corporate shills.

Instead, it's a robust reflection of the backbone of the Democratic Party -- black voters, liberals and moderates and blue-collar workers as well as senior citizens. It's urban, suburban and rural. That is not a collection of elites. It's a reflection of main street America that's more concerned with real solutions to the problems they face than democratic socialist rhetoric about revolution.

If that comes as a surprise, it only highlights how social media -- and Twitter in particular -- is a terrible way to gauge support. As a reality check, only 14% of Texas primary voters told exit pollsters they were regular users of Twitter.

The number one issue for Democrats is defeating Donald Trump and from that flows all other concerns, from improving access to health care, combating the climate crisis and addressing gun violence and income inequality. And at a time when the country faces a potential pandemic, it's a reminder of why a competent government let by experts rather than partisan sycophants matters to people's lives.

Joe Biden's big Super Tuesday reflects more than just momentum: it reflects the belief that Biden can beat Trump and Sanders could hurt Democrats in swing districts.

This primary race is not over and deep differences remain. There should be a great debate that does not devolve into personal attacks. But the real test for Democrats will be to assert within their own party a powerful idea that's been lost during the Trump years: that there is ultimately more that unites us than divides us as Americans.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 86722

Reported Deaths: 1994
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin25264915
Ramsey10267314
Dakota6942124
Anoka5531131
Stearns362923
Washington345955
Scott232532
Olmsted223726
Nobles191416
Blue Earth15406
Wright14777
Carver13037
Rice12798
Mower12534
St. Louis123329
Clay119940
Sherburne105013
Kandiyohi9082
Winona72718
Lyon6244
Steele5062
Freeborn4903
Nicollet48716
Watonwan4844
Benton4793
Todd4722
Le Sueur4403
McLeod4332
Chisago4151
Waseca4118
Crow Wing40218
Otter Tail3674
Beltrami3624
Goodhue3179
Martin2809
Polk2574
Itasca25513
Becker2352
Carlton2261
Isanti2210
Douglas2191
Cottonwood2130
Pipestone2059
Pine1980
Morrison1841
Chippewa1821
Dodge1820
Sibley1663
Wabasha1640
Brown1582
Unassigned15752
Meeker1552
Murray1492
Yellow Medicine1421
Rock1390
Mille Lacs1333
Faribault1290
Cass1203
Jackson1201
Renville1176
Pennington1071
Houston1050
Roseau1050
Swift991
Fillmore980
Koochiching983
Kanabec958
Lincoln930
Redwood910
Stevens911
Pope810
Aitkin691
Hubbard650
Big Stone640
Wadena610
Grant574
Wilkin553
Norman510
Lake480
Marshall481
Mahnomen441
Red Lake370
Lac qui Parle360
Traverse290
Clearwater240
Lake of the Woods201
Kittson130
Cook60

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 76924

Reported Deaths: 1241
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk14988255
Johnson490727
Woodbury475459
Black Hawk425184
Linn3640102
Story321417
Dallas263238
Scott261427
Dubuque251840
Buena Vista191812
Pottawattamie189437
Marshall175234
Sioux12243
Wapello122057
Webster117914
Muscatine105152
Clinton102418
Cerro Gordo97721
Plymouth97520
Crawford9444
Warren9186
Jasper72032
Des Moines7137
Marion6874
Tama67830
Carroll6085
Lee5727
Wright5491
Henry5104
Dickinson4666
Bremer4497
Boone4346
Washington41411
Louisa41314
Franklin33017
Hamilton3123
Mahaska30919
Delaware3053
Jackson2803
Floyd2793
Winneshiek2745
Clay2663
Hardin2661
Benton2611
Clarke2533
Butler2512
Winnebago24711
Emmet24210
Shelby2381
Allamakee2355
Jones2313
Poweshiek2308
Clayton2243
Lyon2233
Buchanan2181
Cedar2101
Guthrie2095
Chickasaw1970
Kossuth1950
Grundy1932
Madison1922
Howard1764
Sac1760
Fayette1751
Iowa1741
Cherokee1732
Mitchell1720
Hancock1702
Humboldt1682
Harrison1642
Calhoun1612
Mills1541
Pocahontas1492
Palo Alto1480
Monroe1409
Page1400
Jefferson1291
Lucas1296
Cass1262
Monona1251
Taylor1171
Appanoose1163
Osceola1130
Union1123
Davis1104
Van Buren1081
Worth990
Keokuk841
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Wayne762
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