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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.

Cases: 604509

Reported Deaths: 7638
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1249671779
Ramsey52513897
Dakota46840471
Anoka42774458
Washington27428291
Stearns22557225
St. Louis18138313
Scott17551136
Wright16379149
Olmsted13399102
Sherburne1202095
Carver1067448
Clay826192
Rice8202110
Blue Earth762644
Crow Wing681795
Kandiyohi667985
Chisago619952
Otter Tail585884
Benton582998
Goodhue483874
Douglas475581
Mower470533
Winona461351
Itasca459763
Isanti440064
McLeod430661
Morrison424762
Beltrami407861
Nobles407650
Steele397816
Polk389072
Becker386755
Lyon363853
Carlton353056
Freeborn347033
Pine334923
Nicollet331245
Mille Lacs311854
Brown307840
Le Sueur297326
Cass286232
Todd285633
Meeker263443
Waseca238023
Martin235332
Roseau211221
Wabasha20793
Hubbard196641
Dodge18783
Renville182446
Redwood176539
Houston174616
Cottonwood167124
Wadena163323
Fillmore157610
Faribault154719
Chippewa154038
Pennington153820
Kanabec146828
Sibley146810
Aitkin138937
Watonwan13579
Rock128719
Jackson122712
Pipestone116726
Yellow Medicine114920
Pope11306
Murray107110
Swift106918
Koochiching95418
Stevens92411
Clearwater89016
Marshall88817
Lake83220
Wilkin83213
Lac qui Parle75622
Big Stone6044
Grant5948
Lincoln5853
Mahnomen5669
Norman5479
Kittson49022
Unassigned48193
Red Lake4017
Traverse3775
Lake of the Woods3453
Cook1720

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 371101

Reported Deaths: 6053
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58263640
Linn21221339
Scott20308248
Black Hawk16157312
Woodbury15240230
Johnson1462385
Dubuque13510211
Dallas1129199
Pottawattamie11228174
Story1071648
Warren583791
Clinton561593
Cerro Gordo554095
Sioux517574
Webster515894
Muscatine4882106
Marshall486976
Des Moines467672
Wapello4338122
Buena Vista426940
Jasper421172
Plymouth403181
Lee382356
Marion366076
Jones300957
Henry294637
Bremer288461
Carroll287152
Boone268634
Crawford268240
Benton259855
Washington257351
Dickinson249344
Mahaska232651
Jackson225242
Clay216727
Kossuth216166
Tama212071
Delaware211143
Winneshiek198735
Page194522
Buchanan194033
Cedar192423
Hardin187544
Fayette186643
Wright186040
Hamilton181951
Harrison180073
Clayton171057
Butler166335
Madison164619
Mills163824
Floyd163442
Cherokee159338
Lyon158841
Poweshiek157036
Allamakee152952
Hancock150334
Iowa149824
Winnebago144531
Cass139255
Calhoun138913
Grundy137233
Emmet135841
Jefferson133535
Shelby131837
Sac130920
Union130035
Louisa129649
Appanoose129049
Mitchell126643
Chickasaw124917
Franklin123523
Guthrie123332
Humboldt119626
Palo Alto113623
Howard105022
Montgomery103638
Clarke100924
Keokuk96732
Monroe96431
Unassigned9540
Ida91535
Adair87332
Pocahontas85822
Davis85225
Monona82931
Osceola78916
Greene78011
Lucas77923
Worth7618
Taylor66812
Fremont6269
Decatur6169
Ringgold56424
Van Buren56318
Wayne54423
Audubon53311
Adams3444
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