- Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) dropped out of the 2020 presidential race Monday, just one day after South Bend Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg suspended his campaign.
- The move comes just a day ahead of Super Tuesday, where 14 states are voting and one-third of the total delegates are up for grabs.
- Here’s what you need to know for the most significant day of voting in the presidential election so far.
What’s at Stake
Super Tuesday is upon us, at last.
While the four early primaries have been key for the candidates’ momentum, Super Tuesday is really where the numbers come into play.
In order to win the nomination, a candidate needs to get a majority of delegates, or 1,991.
Right now, only 155 delegates have been allocated from the first four races. By contrast, 1,357 are going to be given in tomorrow’s races— almost nine-times the amount from the first four races combined.
After that, about 40% of the total delegates will have been given out. The sheer magnitude of delegates at stake here really can’t be overstated, and clearly this is going to be make-or-break for some candidates.
Races to Watch
The biggest two races to watch out for are California and Texas.
These are the two most populous states and have the most delegates out of all the primaries in the country— not just the Super Tuesday primaries. California has 415 delegates up for grabs, Texas has 228.
Analysis from FiveThirtyEight projects that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will win California with an average of 34% of the vote, while former Vice President Joe Biden is forecast to win Texas with an average of 30%.
Notably, this isn’t winner-takes-all like the general election— no one is going to get all of California’s 415 delegates. When we say Sanders is the most likely to “win” California, it just means he’s predicted to get the most delegates.
To that point, FiveThirtyEight also predicts that Biden will win with an average 33% of the vote in North Carolina and an average of 30% in Virginia— the state’s that have the third and fourth biggest delegate counts out of the 14 voting tomorrow.
This is important to note, because even if Sanders wins a majority in California and a majority in smaller states where he’s popular, he could still end up with less delegates than Biden.
Especially if Biden sweeps in those middle-level states like Virginia and North Carolina, which have similar demographics to South Carolina, which he won by a landslide on Saturday winning over 48% of the vote.
Another state to watch out for is Massachusetts, which Warren represents in the Senate. Warren has been polling at the bottom of the bracket recently, and if she loses her own state, that doesn’t look good at all, and she will probably be pushed to drop out.
Right now, FiveThirtyEight actually has Sanders winning an average 30% of the vote in Massachusetts, while Warren comes in second with 25%.
Moderates Are Consolidating
The decision by both Klobuchar and Buttigieg to suspend their campaigns is part of a clear effort to consolidate moderate votes on Super Tuesday.
Experts and moderate voters, especially those who do not want to see Sanders take home the nomination, have long worried that too many centrists candidates in the race will split the ticket and lead to a contested convention— where no candidate has a majority of delegates after the primaries.
A better strategy to avoid this and have a better shot at taking on Sanders, they argue, would be to rally as much moderate support as possible around one candidate.
After a long road, it seems like that is exactly what Klobuchar and Buttigieg are now doing.
On Monday, Klobuchar’s campaign told reporters the senator would be endorsing Biden. While Buttigieg did not endorse anyone when he announced he was suspending his campaign, one of his top advisors told Reuters he would also be endorsing Biden.
Biden, who lagged behind after the first couple primaries, is now trying to ride the momentum from his win in South Carolina. Despite his below-average initial showing, the former vice president is doing well in both state and national polls.
Though, in the past, Biden has polled well in states where he did not end up doing well, like Iowa.
While Buttigieg and Klobuchar’s endorsements are likely to push more voters and ultimately more delegates to Biden, it’s unclear how much it will move the needle.
One thing that could problematize this is the fact that former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg is now in the race, and tomorrow will be the first set of primaries where he’s on the ballot. Bloomberg, a moderate who is expected to pull votes from Biden, has been pouring millions into key Super Tuesday races.
The Problem With Delegates
There is another problem too: delegates.
After the first four races, Buttigieg was in third place for delegates with a total of 26, while Klobuchar trailed with just 7.
The process for allocating and re-allocating delegates is incredibly complicated, but all you need to know is that most of their delegates will eventually be given to someone else.
But here’s the thing: even though they’re no longer in the race, they could technically still get delegates in Super Tuesday.
There are two reasons for that. First of all, their campaign has just been suspended, not withdrawn, so they can still appear on primary ballots. Second, a lot of people in Super Tuesday states have already voted early or mailed in their ballots before they announced they were dropping.
For example, according to the California Secretary of State, more than 2.7 million of 20.6 million registered voters turned in their ballots as of Thursday— and even more did so this weekend.
Notably, aggregated polls showed Buttigieg at 7.7% and Klobuchar at 4.7% in California. If those polls end up mirroring the early votes that have already been turned in, more than 324,000 people in California alone could have voted for candidates who are not in the race.
Those numbers are even more staggering in smaller states like Utah, where, according to reports, nearly 23% of active voters have already voted, and where Buttigieg was polling at 18%.
While that would likely complicate an already confusing process at the national convention, Buttigieg and Klobuchar’s decision to drop out will almost certainly help Biden in the long-run.
See what others are saying: (NPR) (FiveThirtyEight) (NBC News)
Jan. 6 Committee Prepares Criminal Charges Against Steve Bannon for Ignoring Subpoena
The move comes after former President Trump told several of his previous aides not to cooperate with the committee’s investigation into the insurrection.
Bannon Refuses to Comply With Subpoena
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection announced Thursday that it is seeking to hold former White House advisor Steve Bannon in criminal contempt for refusing to comply with a subpoena.
The decision marks a significant escalation in the panel’s efforts to force officials under former President Donald Trump’s administration to comply with its probe amid Trump’s growing efforts to obstruct the inquiry.
In recent weeks, the former president has launched a number of attempts to block the panel from getting key documents, testimonies, and other evidence requested by the committee that he claims are protected by executive privilege.
Notably, some of those assertions have been shut down. On Friday, President Joe Biden rejected Trump’s effort to withhold documents relating to the insurrection.
Still, Trump has also directed former officials in his administration not to comply with subpoenas or cooperate with the committee.
That demand came after the panel issued subpoenas ordering depositions from Bannon and three other former officials: Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino, and Pentagon Chief of Staff Kash Patel.
After Trump issued his demand, Bannon’s lawyer announced that he would not obey the subpoena until the panel reached an agreement with Trump or a court ruled on the executive privilege matter.
Many legal experts have questioned whether Bannon, who left the White House in 2017, can claim executive privilege for something that happened when he was not working for the executive.
Panel Intensifies Compliance Efforts
The Thursday decision from the committee is significant because it will likely set up a legal battle and test how much authority the committee can and will exercise in requiring compliance.
It also sets an important precedent for those who have been subpoenaed. While Bannon is the first former official to openly defy the committee, there have been reports that others plan to do the same.
The panel previously said Patel and Meadows were “engaging” with investigators, but on Thursday, several outlets reported that the two — who were supposed to appear before the body on Thursday and Friday respectively — are now expected to be given an extension or continuance.
Sources told reporters that Scavino, who was also asked to testify Friday, has had his deposition postponed because service of his subpoena was delayed.
As far as what happens next for Bannon, the committee will vote to adopt the contempt report next week. Once that is complete, the matter will go before the House for a full vote.
Assuming the Democratic-held House approves the contempt charge, it will then get referred to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia to bring the matter before a grand jury.
See what others are saying: (CNN) (The Washington Post) (Bloomberg)
Senate Votes To Extend Debt Ceiling Until December
The move adds another deadline to Dec. 3, which is also when the federal government is set to shut down unless Congress approves new spending.
Debt Ceiling Raised Temporarily
The Senate voted on Thursday to extend the debt ceiling until December, temporarily averting a fiscal catastrophe.
The move, which followed weeks of stalemate due to Republican objections, came after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) partially backed down from his blockade and offered a short-term proposal.
After much whipping of votes, 11 Republicans joined Democrats to break the legislative filibuster and move to final approval of the measure. The bill ultimately passed in a vote of 50-48 without any Republican support.
The legislation will now head to the House, where Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said members would be called back from their current recess for a vote on Tuesday.
The White House said President Joe Biden would sign the measure, but urged Congress to pass a longer extension.
“We cannot allow partisan politics to hold our economy hostage, and we can’t allow the routine process of paying our bills to turn into a confidence-shaking political showdown every two years or every two months,’’ White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.
Under the current bill, the nation’s borrowing limit will be increased by $480 billion, which the Treasury Department said will cover federal borrowing until around Dec. 3.
The agency had previously warned that it would run out of money by Oct. 18 if Congress failed to act. Such a move would have a chilling impact on the economy, forcing the U.S. to default on its debts and potentially plunging the country into a recession.
Major Hurdles Remain
While the legislation extending the ceiling will certainly offer temporary relief, it sets up another perilous deadline for the first Friday in December, when government funding is also set to expire if Congress does not approve another spending bill.
Regardless of the new deadline, many of the same hurdles lawmakers faced the first time around remain.
Democrats are still struggling to hammer out the final details of Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending agenda, which Republicans have strongly opposed.
Notably, Democratic leaders previously said they could pass the bill through budget reconciliation, which would allow them to approve the measure with 50 votes and no Republican support.
Such a move would require all 50 Senators, but intraparty disputes remain over objections brought by Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Az.), who have been stalling the process for months.
Although disagreements over reconciliation are ongoing among Democrats, McConnell has insisted the party use the obscure procedural process to raise the debt limit. Democrats, however, have balked at the idea, arguing that tying the debt ceiling to reconciliation would set a dangerous precedent.
Despite Republican efforts to connect the limit to Biden’s economic agenda, raising the ceiling is not the same as adopting new spending. Rather, the limit is increased to pay off spending that has already been authorized by previous sessions of Congress and past administrations.
In fact, much of the current debt stems from policies passed by Republicans during the Trump administration, including the 2017 tax overhaul.
As a result, while Democrats have signaled they may make concessions to Manchin and Sinema, they strongly believe that Republicans must join them to increase the debt ceiling to fund projects their party supported.
It is currently unclear when or how the ongoing stalemate will be resolved, or how either party will overcome their fervent objections.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (NPR) (The Washington Post)
California Makes Universal Voting by Mail Permanent
California is now the eighth state to make universal mail-in ballots permanent after it temporarily adopted the policy for elections held amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
CA Approves Universal Voting by Mail
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a bill Monday requiring every registered voter in the state to be mailed a ballot at least 29 days before an election, whether they request it or not.
Assembly Bill 37 makes permanent a practice that was temporarily adopted for elections during the COVID-19 pandemic. The law, which officially takes effect in January, also extends the time mail ballots have to arrive at elections offices from three days to seven days after an election. Voters can still choose to cast their vote in person if they prefer.
Supporters of the policy have cheered the move, arguing that proactively sending ballots to registered voters increases turnout.
“Data shows that sending everyone a ballot in the mail provides voters access. And when voters get ballots in the mail, they vote,” the bill’s author, Assemblyman Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto), said during a Senate committee hearing in July.
Meanwhile opponents — mostly Republicans — have long cast doubts about the safety of mail-in voting, despite a lack of evidence to support their claims that it leads to widespread voter fraud. That strategy, however, has also faced notable pushback from some that a lot of Republicans who say it can actually hurt GOP turnout.
Others May Follow
The new legislation probably isn’t too surprising for California, where over 50% of votes cast in general elections have been through mail ballots since 2012, according to The Sacramento Bee. Now, many believe California will be followed by similar legislation from Democrats across the country as more Republican leaders move forward with elections bills that significantly limit voting access.
Newsome signed 10 other measures Monday changing election and campaign procedures, including a bill that would require anyone advocating for or against a candidate to stand farther away from a polling place. Another bill increases penalties for candidates who use campaign funds for personal expenses while a third measure increases reporting requirements for limited liability corporations that engage in campaign activity.
“As states across our country continue to enact undemocratic voter suppression laws, California is increasing voter access, expanding voting options and bolstering elections integrity and transparency,” Newsom said in a statement.
“Last year we took unprecedented steps to ensure all voters had the opportunity to cast a ballot during the pandemic and today we are making those measures permanent after record-breaking participation in the 2020 presidential election.”
The news regarding California came just in time for National Voter Registration day today, giving Americans another reminder to make sure they’re registered in their states. For more information on how to register, visit Vote.gov or any of the other resources linked below.