- Joe Biden has emerged as the frontrunner in the 2020 Democratic presidential race, winning 10 out of the 14 states holding primaries and officially taking the lead in delegate totals.
- Bernie Sanders won three states and is expected to win California.
- The outcome officially solidifies the two as the leading candidates and main competitors in the race.
- Here are some key takeaways from the biggest primary day of the election cycle.
Biden Sweeps Super Tuesday
With almost all the Super Tuesday results in, former Vice President Joe Biden has picked up wins in Alabama, Arkansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), for his part, took home wins in Colorado, Utah, and Vermont. Sanders is also projected to win California and is currently pulling in a sizable lead in the state.
Biden also managed to win a couple states Sanders won in the 2016 primary elections, like Minnesota and Oklahoma.
As the last few votes are still being tallied, one thing that is certain is that Biden has officially beaten out Sanders for the candidate with the most delegates.
While other candidates did manage to pick up some of the 1,357 delegates up for grabs in Super Tuesday, only Sanders and Biden won races outright. Notably, in every race that Biden won, Sanders came in second, and vice versa.
Biden and Sanders have now cemented their status as the two leading candidates in this race.
California and Texas
California and Texas were arguably the most-watched states on Super Tuesday.
California is far and away the most delegate-rich state, with 415 delegates, and with Sanders’ lead there, he is likely to benefit significantly from winning the state.
One thing to keep in mind with delegate totals is that the number of states a candidate wins is less important than the number of delegates they win.
For example, Sanders won Vermont, but that state only has 16 delegates. Meanwhile, he lost Texas, but he will still pick up way more delegates there because the state has 228.
In fact, according to reports, Biden is actually expected to share delegates evenly with Sanders, or at best pick up a slight majority of the delegates in Texas, even though he won the state by about 4%.
But with the biggest states came the biggest problems. Voters in both California and Texas waited in line to vote for hours. According to reports, people were still voting or even waiting to vote as late as 1 a.m, long after polls closed at 8 p.m. in California and at 7 p.m. in Texas.
In Texas, most of the delays were likely caused by a lack of polling stations. Texas has been closing more and more polling stations since 2013, when the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.
According to the Leadership Conference Education Fund, a civil rights group, Texas has closed around 750 polling sites since 2012, and of those, 542 sites in were in 50 counties where African American and Latino populations have grown recently.
To that point, numerous reports found that areas with Black and Latino voters were hit the hardest by the long lines at voting centers.
One of these locations was Harris County, which houses Houston, and where about 40 percent of the population is Latino and 19 percent is African American.
Meanwhile, in California, most of the problems were in Los Angeles County, which just rolled out a new election system and new voting machines. Local election officials in the county say a combination of high voter turnout and glitches with the new machines caused delays.
According to reports, at one point during the night around 20% of the county’s voting systems were shut down. In one major voting center at the University of California Los Angeles campus, Sanders’ campaign California state director said that only 9 out of 39 machines were functioning.
Network problems with electronic poll books also made it complicated for workers to look up voters and more provisional ballots had to be handed out. In some counties, poll workers had to look up voters manually and print out their ballots.
Election officials have said these were not because of a hack or a security breach.
Bloomberg Drops Out
Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg announced Wednesday that he was dropping out and endorsing Biden after a mediocre showing on Super Tuesday.
Bloomberg, who spent nearly half a billion of his own fortune on this race, only came in third or fourth in every state.
Though notably, Bloomberg did pick up a landslide win in the U.S. territory American Samoa, winning almost 50% of the vote there and snagging 5 of the 6 delegates. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) also grabbed her first and only delegate of the whole race there as well.
“I entered the race for President to defeat Donald Trump,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “Today, I am leaving the race for the same reason: to defeat Donald Trump — because it is clear to me that staying in would make achieving that goal more difficult.”
With Bloomberg out of the race and Sanders’ appearing to fall behind Biden, there is renewed pressure for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to drop out— especially after the senator lost her own state, Massachusetts, coming in third place behind Biden and Sanders respectively.
African American Turn-Out Drives Biden Success
After his poor performances in Iowa and New Hampshire, Biden kept saying he would do better in more diverse states, especially among African Americans.
That came to fruition on Tuesday, with African American voter turnout for Biden registering as even higher than polls anticipated.
According to the Washington Post, black voters pushed Biden over the edge to win Texas, where six in 10 black voters supported him. Those numbers were even bigger in other southern states, like Alabama, where the former vice president won 70% of the black vote.
On top of that, Biden also did well with older voters, moderates, and people who did not decide who they were going to vote for until much later.
According to FiveThirtyEight, preliminary exit polls from 10 Super Tuesday states show that “Biden won at least 40 percent of the late-deciding vote in every state except for Sanders’s home state of Vermont.”
Sanders, for his part, did well with younger voters and Latinos. He won about half the Latino vote in both Texas and California, while the other half was divided up among the other candidates, which is a big part of the reason he performed well in those states.
But notably, there was a large lack of youth voter turnout, which likely hurt him a lot. According to exit polls from the Washington Post, “Only about 1 in 8 voters were between the ages of 18 and 29 years old. By contrast, nearly two-thirds were 45 or older, and about 3 in 10 were 65 or older.”
While Super Tuesday certainly shifted the election into gear, there is still a long way to go. Only 18 states have voted, and just under 40% of delegates have been allocated.
While Biden has had a strong showing in the south, he has not really been tested in the midwest, and he has not won any of the states west of Texas, which have all gone to Bernie.
That is worth mentioning because next Tuesday, Washington state and Idaho are voting in the west, while Michigan and North Dakota are voting in the Midwest— all states Bernie won in 2016.
See what others are saying: (FiveThirtyEight) (The Washington Post) (NPR)
Supreme Court Rules High School Football Coach Can Pray on Field
All of our rights are “hanging in the balance,” wrote Justice Sonia Sotomayor in a dissenting opinion.
Court’s Conservatives Break With 60 Years of History
The Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favor of a former high school football coach who lost his job after he refused to stop praying on the field at the end of games.
Joseph Kennedy, who was hired at Bremerton High School in Washington State in 2008, kneeled at the 50-yard line after games for years and prayed. He was often joined by some of his players, as well as others from the opposing team.
In 2015, the school asked him not to pray if it interfered with his duties or involved students.
Shortly after, Kennedy was placed on paid administrative leave, and after a school official recommended that his contract not be renewed for the 2016 season he did not reapply for the position.
Kennedy sued the school, eventually appealing the case to the Supreme Court.
The justices voted 6 to 3, with the liberal justices dissenting.
“Respect for religious expressions is indispensable to life in a free and diverse republic — whether those expressions take place in a sanctuary or on a field, and whether they manifest through the spoken word or a bowed head,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the majority opinion.
“Here, a government entity sought to punish an individual for engaging in a brief, quiet, personal religious observance,” he added.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a dissenting opinion.
“Today’s decision is particularly misguided because it elevates the religious rights of a school official, who voluntarily accepted public employment and the limits that public employment entails, over those of his students, who are required to attend school and who this court has long recognized are particularly vulnerable and deserving of protection,” she said.
“In doing so, the court sets us further down a perilous path in forcing states to entangle themselves with religion, with all of our rights hanging in the balance.”
The defense in the case argued that the public nature of Kennedy’s prayers put pressure on students to join him, and that he was acting in his capacity as a public employee, not a private citizen.
Kennedy’s lawyers contended that such an all-encompassing definition of his job duties denied him his right to self-expression on school grounds.
“This is just so awesome,” Kennedy said in a statement following the decision. “All I’ve ever wanted was to be back on the field with my guys … I thank God for answering our prayers and sustaining my family through this long battle.”
Religious Liberty or Separation of Church and State?
Sixty years ago, the Supreme Court decided that the government cannot organize or promote prayer in public schools, and it has since generally abided by that jurisprudence.
But the court led by Chief Justice John Roberts has been increasingly protective of religious expression, especially after the confirmation of three conservative Trump-appointed judges.
Reactions to the ruling were mostly split between liberals who saw the separation of church and state being dissolved and conservatives who hailed it as a victory for religious liberty.
Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, which represented the Bremerton school district, said in a statement that the ruling “gutted decades of established law that protected students’ religious freedom.”
“If Coach Kennedy were named Coach Akbar and he had brought a prayer blanket to the 50 yard line to pray after a game,” one Twitter user said, “I’ve got a 401(k) that says this illegitimate, Christofascist SCOTUS rules 6-3 against him.”
“The people defending former Coach Kennedy’s right to kneel on the field after the game to pray – are the ones condemning Colin Kaepernick’s right to kneel on the field to protest police brutality against Black Americans,” another user wrote.
Others, like Republican Congressmember Ronny Jackson and former Secretary of State for the Trump administration Mike Pompeo, celebrated the ruling for protecting religious freedom and upholding what they called the right to pray.
“I am excited to build on this victory and continue securing our inalienable right to religious freedom,” Pompeo wrote.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (Fox News)
Rep. Schiff Urges DOJ to Investigate Trump for Election Crimes: “There’s Enough Evidence”
“When the Justice Department finds evidence of criminal potential criminal wrongdoing, they need to investigate,” the congressman said.
Schiff Says DOJ Should Launch Inquiry
Rep. Adam Schiff (R-Ca.) told Rogue Rocket that he believes there is “certainly […] enough evidence for the Justice Department to open an investigation” into possible election crimes committed by former President Donald Trump.
Schiff, who took the lead in questioning witnesses testifying before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection on Tuesday, said that it will be up to the DOJ to determine whether “they have proof beyond a reasonable doubt” of criminal activity, but added that an investigation must first be launched.
“Donald Trump should be treated like any other citizen,” the congressman said, noting that a federal judge in California has already ruled that Trump and his allies “likely” engaged in multiple federal criminal acts. “When the Justice Department finds evidence of criminal potential criminal wrongdoing, they need to investigate.”
“One of the concerns I have is it’s a year and a half since these events. And while […] there’s an investigation going on in Fulton County by the district attorney, I don’t see a federal grand jury convened in Atlanta looking into this, and I think it’s fair to ask why,” Schiff continued, referencing the ongoing inquiry into Trump’s attempts to overturn the election in Georgia.
“Normally, the Justice Department doesn’t wait for Congress to go first. They pursue evidence and they have the subpoena power. They’re often much more agile than the Congress. And I think it’s important that it not just be the lower-level people who broke into the Capitol that day and committed those acts of violence who are under the microscope,” he continued. “I think anyone who engaged in criminal activity trying to overturn the election where there’s evidence that they may have engaged in criminal acts should be investigated.”
Schiff Takes Aim at DOJ’s Handling of Committee Subpoenas
Schiff also expressed frustration with how the DOJ has handled referrals the committee has made for former Trump officials who have refused to comply with subpoenas to testify before the panel.
“We have referred four people for criminal prosecution who have obstructed our investigation. The Justice Department has only moved forward with two of them,” he stated. “That’s not as powerful an incentive as we would like. The law requires the Justice Department to present these cases to the grand jury when we refer them, and by only referring half of them, it sends a very mixed message about whether congressional subpoenas need to be complied with.”
As far as why the congressman thought the DOJ has chosen to operate in this manner in regards to the Jan. 6 panel’s investigation, he said he believes “the leadership of the department is being very cautious.”
“I think that they want to make sure that the department avoids controversy if possible, doesn’t do anything that could even be perceived as being political,” Schiff continued. “And while I appreciate that sentiment […] at the same time, the rule of law has to be applied equally to everyone. If you’re so averse, […] it means that you’re giving effectively a pass or immunity to people who may have broken the law. That, too, is a political decision, and I think it’s the wrong decision.”
On the Note of Democracy
Schiff emphasized the importance of the American people working together to protect democracy in the fallout of the insurrection.
“I really think it’s going to require a national movement of people to step up to preserve our democracy. This is not something that I think Congress can do alone. We’re going to try to protect those institutions, but Republicans are fighting this tooth and nail,” he asserted. “It’s difficult to get through a Senate where Mitch McConnell can filibuster things.”
“We don’t have the luxury of despair when it comes to what we’re seeing around us. We have the obligation to do what generations did before us, and that is defend our democracy,” the congressman continued. “We had to go to war in World War II to defend our democracy from the threat of fascism. You know, we’re not called upon to make those kinds of sacrifices. We see the bravery of people in Ukraine putting their lives on the line to defend their country, their sovereignty, their democracy. Thank God we’re not asked to do that.”
“So what we have to do is, by comparison, so much easier. But it does require us to step up, to be involved, to rally around local elections officials who are doing their jobs, who are facing death threats, and to protect them and to push back against efforts around the country to pass laws to make it easier for big liars to overturn future elections.”
“We are not passengers in all of this, unable to affect the course of our country. We can, you know, grab the rudder and steer this country in the direction that we want.”
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Washington Post) (CNN)
Senate Passes Bill to Help Veterans Suffering From Burn Pit Exposure
For Biden, who believes his son Beau may have died from brain cancer caused by burn pits, the issue is personal.
Veterans to Get Better Healthcare
The Senate voted 84-14 Thursday to pass a bill that would widely expand healthcare resources and benefits to veterans who were exposed to burn pits while deployed overseas.
Until about 2010, the Defense Department used burn pits to dispose of trash from military bases in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations, dumping things like plastics, rubber, chemical mixtures, and medical waste into pits and burning them with jet fuel.
Numerous studies and reports have demonstrated a link between exposure to the toxic fumes emitted by the pits and health problems such as respiratory ailments and rare cancers. The DoD has estimated that nearly 3.5 million veterans may have inhaled enough smoke to suffer from related health problems.
For years, the Department of Veterans Affairs resisted calls to recognize the link between exposure and illness, arguing it had not been scientifically proven and depriving many veterans of disability benefits and medical reimbursements.
Over the past year, however, the VA relented, awarding presumptive benefit status to veterans exposed to burn pits, but it only applied to those who were diagnosed with asthma, rhinitis, and sinusitis within 10 years of their service.
The latest bill would add 23 conditions to the list of what the VA covers, including hypertension. It also calls for investments in VA health care facilities, claims processing, and the VA workforce, while strengthening federal research on toxic exposure.
The bill will travel to the House of Representatives next, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi has pledged to push it through quickly. Then it will arrive at the White House for final approval.
An Emotional Cause for Many
Ahead of a House vote on an earlier version of the bill in March, comedian John Stewart publically slammed Congress for taking so long to act.
“They’re all going to say the same thing. ‘We want to do it. We want to support the veterans. But we want to do it the right way. We want to be responsible,’” he said. “You know what would have been nice? If they had been responsible 20 years ago and hadn’t spent trillions of dollars on overseas adventures.”
“They could have been responsible in the seventies when they banned this kind of thing in the United States,” he continued. “You want to do it here? Let’s dig a giant fucking pit, 10 acres long, and burn everything in Washington with jet fuel. And then let me know how long they want to wait before they think it’s going to cause some health problems.”
For President Biden, the issue is personal. He has said he believes burn pits may have caused the brain cancer that killed his son Beau in 2015.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer applauded the fact the long-awaited benefits could soon arrive for those impacted.
“The callousness of forcing veterans who got sick as they were fighting for us because of exposure to these toxins to have to fight for years in the VA to get the benefits they deserved — Well, that will soon be over. Praise God,” he said during a speech on Thursday.
A 2020 member survey by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America found that 86% of respondents were exposed to burn pits or other toxins.
Although burn pits have largely been scaled down, the DoD has not officially banned them, and at least nine were still in operation in April 2019.