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

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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.

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Hennepin8738633
Ramsey3189134
Stearns204714
Nobles15585
Anoka147073
Dakota138859
Washington67033
Olmsted65411
Kandiyohi5051
Rice4802
Scott4552
Clay43529
Mower3662
Wright3322
Todd3300
Sherburne2482
Carver2242
Benton1813
Steele1670
Blue Earth1480
Martin1325
Freeborn1300
St. Louis11814
Pine900
Nicollet8810
Winona8015
Watonwan780
Cottonwood770
Carlton750
Crow Wing754
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Lyon711
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Polk612
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Dodge530
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Pipestone120
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Aitkin110
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Renville50
Traverse40
Grant40
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Roseau30
Houston20
Stevens10
Lake10
Kittson10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 20264

Reported Deaths: 574
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk4406134
Woodbury281737
Black Hawk175946
Linn96779
Dallas92924
Buena Vista9181
Marshall90118
Johnson6169
Wapello60714
Muscatine56341
Crawford5422
Tama40828
Scott36810
Dubuque35121
Louisa34611
Pottawattamie29610
Sioux2900
Jasper26317
Wright1940
Washington1928
Warren1530
Plymouth1392
Allamakee1204
Story1181
Mahaska9712
Poweshiek918
Henry722
Bremer696
Boone670
Des Moines661
Clinton651
Clarke640
Taylor590
Guthrie533
Cedar491
Hamilton450
Benton441
Webster441
Monroe385
Shelby370
Jones370
Cherokee360
Marion340
Clayton343
Osceola340
Iowa330
Buchanan330
Jefferson330
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Madison292
Lee280
Davis270
Fayette270
Dickinson270
Harrison260
Sac250
Lyon250
Monona250
Winneshiek240
Clay210
Grundy200
Mills200
Floyd191
Emmet190
Hardin190
Lucas191
Delaware191
Humboldt181
Butler171
Hancock160
Franklin150
Page140
Pocahontas140
Ida140
Keokuk140
Appanoose143
Audubon131
Jackson130
Greene130
Kossuth130
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Winnebago110
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Union90
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