- 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)
Judges Uphold North Carolina’s Congressional Map in Major GOP Win
The judges agreed that the congressional map was “a result of intentional, pro-Republican partisan redistricting” but said they did not have the power to intervene in legislative matters.
New Maps Upheld
A three-judge panel in North Carolina upheld the state’s new congressional and legislative maps on Tuesday, deciding it did not have the power to respond to arguments that Republicans had illegally gerrymandered it to benefit them.
Voting rights groups and Democrats sued over the new maps, which were drawn by the state’s Republican legislature following the 2020 census.
The maps left Democrats with just three of North Carolina’s 14 congressional seats in a battleground state that is more evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. Previously, Democrats held five of the 13 districts the state had before the last census, during which North Carolina was allocated an additional seat.
The challengers argued that the blatantly partisan maps had been drawn in a way that went against longstanding rules, violated the state’s Constitution, and intentionally disenfranchised Black voters.
In their unanimous ruling, the panel — composed of one Democrat and two Republicans — agreed that both the legislative and congressional maps were “a result of intentional, pro-Republican partisan redistricting.”
The judges added that they had “disdain for having to deal with issues that potentially lead to results incompatible with democratic principles and subject our state to ridicule.”
Despite their beliefs, the panel said they did not have a legal basis for intervening in political matters and constraining the legislature. They additionally ruled that the challengers did not prove their claims that the maps were discriminatory based on race.
Notably, the judges also stated that partisan gerrymandering does not actually violate the state’s Constitution.
The Path Ahead
While the decision marks a setback to the plaintiffs, the groups have already said they will appeal the decision to the North Carolina Supreme Court.
The state’s highest court has a slim Democratic majority and has already signaled they may be open to tossing the map.
There are also past precedents for voting maps to be thrown out in North Carolina. The state has an extensive history of legal battles over gerrymandering, and Republican leaders have been forced to redraw maps twice in recent years.
A forthcoming decision is highly anticipated, as North Carolina’s congressional map could play a major role in the control of the House in the 2022 midterm elections if they are as close as expected.
See what others are saying: (Politico) (The New York Times) (The Wall Street Journal)
Biden Administration Says Private Insurers Will Have to Cover 8 At-Home Tests a Month
The policy will apply to all the nearly 150 million Americans who have private insurance.
New At-Home Testing Policy
The Biden administration announced Monday that private health insurers will now be required to pay for up to eight at-home rapid tests per plan member each month.
Under the new policy, starting Saturday, private insurance holders will be able to purchase any at-home test approved by the FDA at a pharmacy or online. They will either not be asked to pay any upfront costs or be reimbursed for their purchase through their provider.
The move is expected to significantly expand access to rapid tests that other countries have been distributing to their citizens free of charge for months.
According to reports, nearly 150 million Americans — about 45% of the population — have private insurance.
Each dependent enrolled on the primary insurance holder’s account is counted as a member. That means a family of four enrolled on a single plan would be eligible for 32 free at-home rapid tests a month.
All tests may not be fully covered depending on where they are purchased.
In order to help offset costs, the Biden administration is incentivizing insurance providers to establish a network of “preferred” pharmacies and stores where people in the plan can get tests without paying out of pocket.
As a result, health plans that do create those networks will only be required to reimburse up to $12 per test if they are purchased out of that network, meaning people could be on the hook for the rest of the cost.
If an insurer does not set up a preferred network, they will have to cover all at-home tests in full regardless of the place of purchase.
During a briefing Monday, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said tests should be “out the door in the coming weeks.”
“The contracts [for testing companies] are structured in a way to require that significant amounts are delivered on an aggressive timeline, the first of which should be arriving early next week,” she added.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (NPR) (The Washington Post)
Biden Administration Unveils Plan To Replace All Lead Pipes
The effort builds on the $15 billion allocated under the bipartisan infrastructure bill for lead pipe replacement, but industry leaders say $60 billion will be needed for nationwide revitalization.
White House Outlines Actions on Lead Pipes and Paint
The Biden administration rolled out a sweeping plan on Thursday to remove all the nation’s lead pipes over the next decade and take other steps to prevent lead paint contamination.
Lead, which was commonly used in piping for municipal water systems all over the country until it was banned in 1978, is a dangerous neurotoxin that can cause serious nervous system damage, especially in children.
Contamination from lead pipes seeping into water supplies has caused multiple high-profile public health and environmental catastrophes over the last decade, including the notorious crisis in Flint, Michigan.
According to a White House factsheet, an estimated 10 million households are connected to water through lead pipes. Children and teenagers in 400,000 schools and child care facilities also risk exposure to lead-contaminated water.
“Because of inequitable infrastructure development and disinvestment, low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately exposed to these risks,” the factsheet stated.
To address those disparities and revitalize water systems across the nation, the White House outlined 15 new action items the Biden administration is taking, including:
- Launching “a new regulatory process to protect communities from lead in drinking water” through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
- Clarifying that state, local, and Tribal governments can use the $350 billion aid allocated under the American Rescue Plan to replace lead service lines.
- Establishing federally-operated regional technical assistance hubs “to fast track lead service line removal projects in partnership with labor unions and local water agencies.”
- Awarding federal grants through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to remove lead paint in low-income communities.
- Directing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to expand childhood lead testing.
- Establishing “a new Cabinet Level Partnership for Lead Remediation in Schools and Child Care Centers.”
The White House also said it will direct the EPA to allocate $3 billion for state, local, and Tribal governments to replace lead pipes through funding that was approved under the bipartisan infrastructure bill signed by President Joe Biden last month.
A Matter of Funding
In total, Congress provided $15 billion to revitalize the nation’s lead-pipe systems under the infrastructure bill.
However, industry experts have estimated that it will cost $60 billion to entirely overhaul all the remaining lead pipes in the U.S.
As a result, the Biden administration has proposed several additional funding mechanisms in the social safety net package, known as the Build Back Better Act, that is currently being negotiated by Congress.
Specifically, the legislation would set aside $9 billion for lead remediation grants to disadvantaged communities, $1 billion for rural water utilities to remove lead pipes, and $5 billion for mitigation efforts such as removing lead-based water fixtures in low-income households.
The Build Back Better Act would additionally provide $65 billion for public housing agencies and $5 billion for other federally-assisted housing organizations to improve housing quality, including by replacing lead pipes and service lines.
The status of that legislation, as well as what provisions will remain in the final version, remain in limbo. While Democratic leadership has pushed to pass the sweeping social bill before the new year, all 50 of the party’s members in the Senate will need to sign on, and moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) has continued to withhold his support.