- 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)
Republicans Say They Will Block Bill To Avert Government Shutdown and Debt Default
Democrats argue the bill is necessary to prevent an economic catastrophe.
Democrats Introduce Legislation
Democrats in the House and Senate unveiled sweeping legislation Monday that aimed to keep the government funded through early December, lift the federal debt limit, and provide around $35 billion for Afghan refugees and natural disaster recovery.
The bill is needed to avoid a government shutdown when funding expires next week. It is also necessary to prevent the Treasury Department from reaching the limit of its borrowing authority, which would trigger the U.S. to default on its debt for the first time ever.
For weeks, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has urged Congress to raise the federal debt limit, also known as the debt ceiling, warning that the department will soon exhaust all of its measures to keep the federal government within its legal borrowing limit.
If the U.S. were to default, it would be unable to pay its debts, sending massive shockwaves through the financial system.
Democrats have painted the bill as crucial to avert an economic doomsday that would massively undermine recovery.
They argue that the combination of a government shutdown and a debt default would destabilize global markets and leave millions of Americans without essential aid.
Republicans Vow to Oppose Raising Debt Ceiling
Despite the considerable threats, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has repeatedly said Republicans will not vote to increase the debt ceiling, arguing that Democrats should do it without their help because they are pushing trillions of dollars in new spending priorities.
Democrats have slammed the Republican leader’s stance as hypocritical. They point out that while it is true they are proposing new spending, it has not been approved yet, and the debt that currently risks default has been incurred by both parties.
Democrats also noted that trillions of dollars were added to the federal debt under former President Donald Trump, which is more than what has been added by President Joe Biden. As a result, Republicans raised the debt ceiling three times during the Trump administration with the support of Democrats.
McConnell, however, remains unlikely to budge. On Monday, White House officials said McConnell has not outlined any requests or areas of negotiation in exchange for support of the legislation.
While the bill is expected to pass the House, it appears all but doomed in the Senate, where it needs 60 votes to break the filibuster.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (Politico)
California Gov. Gavin Newsom Survives Recall
Experts say the outcome should act as a warning for Republicans who tie themselves to former President Donald Trump and attempt to undermine election results by promoting false voter fraud claims.
Recall Effort Fails
After seven months and an estimated $276 million in taxpayer money, the Republican-led effort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) failed Tuesday.
Just under 70% of the votes have been reported as of Wednesday morning, showing that “no” on the recall received 63.9% of the vote. That’s nearly twice as many votes as “yes,” which had 36.1%.
According to The Washington Post, even if the margin narrows as more votes are counted, this still marks one of the biggest rejections of any recall effort in America over the last century.
Analysts say the historic rebuke was driven by high Democratic turnout and broader fears over resurging COVID cases.
While the Delta variant continues to push new infections to record highs in many parts of the country with lax mask rules and low vaccination rates, California, once a global epicenter of the pandemic, now has one of the highest vaccination rates and lowest new caseloads in the nation.
Newsom has continually tried to convince voters that those figures are the results of his vaccine and masking policies, which have been some of the most aggressive in the U.S.
Given that polls showed the pandemic was the top concern for California voters, it is clear that the majority favored his policies over those of his competitors. Larry Elder, the Republican talk radio host of led the field of 46 challengers, ran on a platform of getting rid of essentially all COVID restrictions.
In his victory speech Tuesday night, Newsom painted the recall’s failure not only as a win for Democratic coronavirus policies but also for Democracy at large.
“We said yes to science. We said yes to vaccines. We said yes to ending this pandemic,” he said. “We said yes to people’s right to vote without fear of fake fraud or voter suppression.”
“I think about just in the last few days and the former president put out saying this election was rigged,” he continued. “Democracy is not a football. You don’t throw it around. That’s more like a, I don’t know, antique vase. You can drop it and smashing a million different pieces. And that’s what we’re capable of doing if we don’t stand up to meet the moment and push back.”
“I said this many, many times on the campaign trail, we may have defeated Trump, but Trump-ism is not dead in this country. The Big Lie, January 6th insurrection, all the voting suppression efforts that are happening all across this country.”
A Warning for Republicans
Newsom’s remarks took aim at the efforts by Elder and other Republicans — including former President Donald Trump — who over the last week have claimed falsely and without evidence that voter fraud helped secured the governor’s win before Election Day even took place.
While it is currently unknown whether that narrative may have prompted more Republican voters to stay home, Newsom’s effort to cast Edler as a Trump-like candidate and the recall as an undemocratic, Republican power grab appears to have been effective.
Now, political strategists say that the outcome of the recall should serve as a warning that Republicans who pin themselves to Trump and his Big Lie playbook may be hurt more in certain states.
“The recall does offer at least one lesson to Democrats in Washington ahead of next year’s midterm elections: The party’s pre-existing blue- and purple-state strategy of portraying Republicans as Trump-loving extremists can still prove effective with the former president out of office,” The New York Times explained.
Even outside of a strongly blue state like California, analysts say this strategy will also be effective with similar candidates in battleground states like Georgia, Arizona, Missouri, and Pennsylvania, which will be essential to deciding control of the Senate.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (NPR)
Justice Department Sues Texas Over Abortion Ban
The department claims the Texas law violates past Supreme Court precedents on abortion and infringes on Constitutional protections.
Biden Administration Takes Aim at Texas Law
The Department of Justice sued Texas on Thursday in an attempt to block the state’s newly enacted law that effectively prohibits all abortions by banning the procedure after six weeks, before most people know they are pregnant.
The abortion law, which is the most restrictive in the country and does not provide exceptions for rape or incest, allows private citizens to take legal action against anyone who helps a person terminate their pregnancy after six weeks.
In its lawsuit, the Justice Department argued that the Texas law is unconstitutional because it violates past Supreme Court precedents through a technical loophole.
While numerous other states have passed similar laws banning abortion after about six weeks, federal judges have struck down those measures on the grounds that they are inconsistent with Roe v. Wade and subsequent Supreme Court decisions that states cannot prevent someone from seeking an abortion before a fetus can viably live outside the womb, usually around 22 to 24 weeks.
The Texas law, however, skirts the high court decisions by deputizing citizens to enforce the law rather than state government officials, taking the state out of the equation entirely and protecting it from legal responsibility.
Individuals who do so do not have to prove any personal injury or connection to those they take legal action against, which can range from abortion providers to rideshare drivers who take someone to a clinic.
If their lawsuit is successful, the citizen is entitled to a $10,000 award.
DOJ Lawsuit Targets Constitutionality
During a press conference detailing the DOJ lawsuit, Attorney General Merrick Garland referred to the enforcement mechanism as “an unprecedented” effort with the “obvious and expressly acknowledged intention” to prevent Texans from their constitutionally protected right to have an abortion.
“This kind of scheme to nullify the Constitution of the United States is one that all Americans — whatever their politics or party — should fear,” Garland said, adding that the provision of the law allowing civilians “to serve as bounty hunters” may become “a model for action in other areas, by other states, and with respect to other constitutional rights and judicial precedents.”
The Justice Department argued that the Texas policy violates equal protection guarantees under the 14th Amendment as well as the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, which establishes that the Constitution and federal law generally take precedence over state law.
The lawsuit also claimed that the law interferes with the constitutional obligation of federal employees to provide access to abortion, including in cases of rape or incest, to people who are under the care of federal agencies or contractors such as those in prisons.
Both Sides See Path to Supreme Court
While proponents of abortion rights applauded the Justice Department’s legal challenge, officials in Texas defended the law and accused the Biden administration of filing the lawsuit for political reasons.
“President Biden and his administration are more interested in changing the national narrative from their disastrous Afghanistan evacuation and reckless open border policies instead of protecting the innocent unborn,” a spokeswoman for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), said in a statement.
“We are confident that the courts will uphold and protect that right to life.”
The DOJ’s suit will now be decided by a federal judge for the Western District of Texas, based in Austin.
Depending on how that court rules, either opponents or supporters of the abortion ban are expected to appeal the case, sending it to the conservative Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal and likely ultimately placing the matter before the Supreme Court again in a matter of months.
The Supreme Court allowed the law to go into effect by declining to approve an emergency petition to block the measure last week, but it did not rule on the constitutionality of the policy.
As a result, the Justice Department’s legal challenge could force the high court to hear another facet of the law that it has not yet considered if it decides to see the case.