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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: 485655

Reported Deaths: 6558
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1007641586
Ramsey43106801
Dakota36297390
Anoka33293385
Washington22078256
Stearns18734201
St. Louis14805262
Scott13290107
Wright12526115
Olmsted1178988
Sherburne872872
Carver772640
Clay691587
Rice670491
Blue Earth594735
Kandiyohi579574
Crow Wing520681
Chisago499045
Otter Tail482170
Benton446490
Winona418349
Mower404731
Douglas392668
Nobles387047
Goodhue385768
Polk343162
McLeod339349
Beltrami337951
Morrison324547
Itasca313046
Lyon313044
Becker311342
Isanti306154
Steele300411
Carlton300149
Pine282016
Freeborn280723
Nicollet258641
Todd248030
Brown245037
Le Sueur235320
Mille Lacs227447
Cass220024
Waseca208717
Meeker207434
Martin189528
Wabasha18653
Roseau180217
Hubbard160640
Houston157314
Dodge15224
Renville149640
Redwood147027
Fillmore13728
Chippewa136335
Cottonwood134820
Pennington134416
Wadena130920
Faribault123017
Aitkin118833
Sibley117310
Watonwan11738
Rock115714
Kanabec107519
Pipestone101424
Yellow Medicine97617
Murray9448
Jackson93510
Swift87918
Pope8045
Marshall77815
Stevens7418
Lake74018
Clearwater71914
Lac qui Parle68416
Wilkin67110
Koochiching61811
Big Stone5163
Lincoln5062
Grant4918
Norman4788
Unassigned46768
Mahnomen4417
Kittson40921
Red Lake3625
Traverse3055
Lake of the Woods2191
Cook1180

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 362827

Reported Deaths: 5440
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58260551
Linn20670313
Scott18318210
Black Hawk16258292
Woodbury14979211
Johnson1384874
Dubuque13562194
Dallas1138690
Pottawattamie10791143
Story1024945
Warren556674
Clinton543784
Cerro Gordo533782
Webster519587
Marshall497272
Sioux494869
Buena Vista474537
Des Moines458861
Muscatine452291
Wapello4345108
Jasper417766
Plymouth395378
Lee375452
Marion359169
Jones294154
Henry293337
Carroll286249
Bremer280854
Crawford275135
Boone259730
Washington254347
Benton253854
Mahaska224746
Jackson221638
Dickinson217840
Tama213765
Kossuth208555
Clay193625
Hamilton192142
Delaware189140
Winneshiek189127
Buchanan185729
Fayette185235
Page183319
Hardin181439
Wright179931
Harrison179469
Cedar178523
Clayton168154
Butler167231
Mills163020
Floyd162741
Cherokee154836
Madison154718
Poweshiek154330
Hancock147130
Allamakee146747
Lyon145941
Iowa145023
Appanoose139247
Grundy139230
Jefferson138734
Winnebago138631
Cass134751
Calhoun133811
Mitchell130940
Louisa128241
Union126631
Chickasaw125215
Sac124618
Emmet121740
Shelby121733
Franklin118319
Humboldt117925
Guthrie116628
Palo Alto105221
Montgomery104136
Howard102921
Clarke100420
Unassigned9900
Keokuk98229
Monroe93328
Adair92128
Ida91432
Pocahontas85419
Davis83123
Monona81627
Greene77510
Lucas74021
Osceola70615
Worth6997
Taylor66612
Fremont5909
Decatur5829
Van Buren56118
Ringgold52320
Wayne48921
Audubon4889
Adams3274
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