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Biden Wins Big in More Key States

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  • Joe Biden again swept in Tuesday’s primary elections, winning four of the six states holding primaries— including Michigan, which was considered essential for Bernie Sanders.
  • Biden won by massive margins in multiple races and beat out Sanders in states he had previously won in 2016.
  • With more key battleground states set to vote next Tuesday, Sander’s prospects look grim as Biden further solidifies his lead.

Biden Wins Big

Former Vice President Joe Biden continued his winning streak, picking up wins in four out of the six states that held primary elections Tuesday.

Riding the momentum of his huge Super Tuesday showing, Biden won the elections in Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, and Missouri.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) took home a win in North Datoka. Washington State is currently too close to call.

While Biden was predicted to win many of those races, Sanders’ loss in Michigan is especially significant.

Michigan was largely viewed as the most important state in yesterday’s races, and an absolutely essential state for Sanders, because it had the most delegates to give: 125.

Sanders won Michigan in 2016 in a surprise win that set his campaign in motion and made for a competitive race against Hillary Clinton.

But Biden won the key swing state by more than double digits, taking 52.9% of the vote while Sanders won 36.4%— a pretty significant margin, especially in a state that Sanders won last time.

Results From Other Key States

Michigan was not the only state Sanders won in 2016 and lost on Tuesday. Biden also claimed a win in Idaho, though the margin was not as big.

Also of note is Washington State. While not all of the votes have been counted, the race is shockingly close. With 67% reporting, Sanders is only pulling ahead by 0.2%.

Though notably, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who dropped out of the race last week, is polling at 12.3% in the state, likely due to the fact that Washington has a long early voting period and mail-in ballots.

While that certainly is hurting Sanders by taking away necessary progressive votes, the fact that this race is so close in a state he won with more than 70% of the vote in 2016 does not bode well.

Another factor that is concerning for the Sanders campaign is the drastic margins Biden won by in Mississippi and Missouri.

In Mississippi, Biden received more than 80% of the vote. Sanders failed to meet the 15% threshold required to receive delegates, meaning that he did not pick up any of the 36 delegates in the state.

Meanwhile in Missouri, Biden earned almost twice as many as Sanders. This marked another notable loss for Sanders, who just barely lost the state in 2016 to Clinton.

Biden Solidifies Lead, Sanders Faces Uphill Battle

It is clear that Biden is solidifying his lead in this election, an incredible shift for a campaign that was once considered dead in the water. Biden has now won 14 out of the 20 states that had primaries in the last week alone.

That, combined with the fact that he also won multiple states Sanders took in 2016, indicates Biden is gaining momentum that Sanders seems to be losing.

While the sheer number of states Biden has won is certainly positive for his momentum, at the end of the day, the amount of delegates a candidate wins is much more important than the number of states they win.

But Biden is also leading in that respect too. In fact, most experts predict that he will widen the delegate gap even more in the coming elections.

Four more major primaries are set for next Tuesday in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio, and 577 delegates are up for grabs.

Sanders lost all four of those states back in 2016— and some by big margins. Most polls show him losing them this time around too. After the elections next week, a little over 60% of total delegates will be allocated.

With the biggest delegates still up for grabs in states where Sanders has historically fared poorly, it is unclear what the senator’s path forward will look like.

Voter Turnout Problems for Sanders

Exit polls and turnout data from Tuesday’s elections also paint a grim picture for Sanders. The big question with Sanders has always been whether or not he can bring in voters from outside his usual base.

But based on results from Tuesday, it looks like his coalition has largely remained the same. While Sanders brought in the usual young and very liberal voters, Biden, by contrast, has consistently pulled in a much more diverse coalition.

According to exit polls, Biden’s victories were again fueled by black voters, along with women, older voters, and white voters with college degrees.

And while Sanders does traditionally do well with Latino voters, who composed a lot less of the voting population in those races, he continued to struggle with courting black voters.

For example, in Mississippi, Biden won nearly 90% of the black vote, according to exit polls.

Another big problem for Sanders is the youth vote. The Democratic Socialist has long been banking on the fact that he is wildly popular with younger voters, and has argued that he can win if they turn out— but they have not been turning out.

Young voter turnout has remained low in many of the major races. In fact, on Tuesday, turnout for voters aged 18 to 44 was lower than it was in 2016 in Mississippi, Missouri, and Michigan, despite the fact that overall turnout was higher in all three states.

That is especially notable for Michigan, where youth turnout largely pushed Sanders to his win in 2016, and arguably even more notable because, overall, voter turnout in Michigan was significantly higher than 2016.

According to recent estimates, 1.7 million people voted in Michigan’s Democratic primary Tuesday, compared to 1.2 million in 2016.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (FiveThirtyEight.com) (NPR)

Politics

Jan. 6 Committee Prepares Criminal Charges Against Steve Bannon for Ignoring Subpoena

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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)

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Politics

Senate Votes To Extend Debt Ceiling Until December

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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)

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California Makes Universal Voting by Mail Permanent

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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.

See what others are saying: (The Hill) (Los Angeles Times) (The Sacramento Bee)

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