- Voters in 14 states are casting their ballots today. The Guardian’s reporters are covering Super Tuesday from across the nation.
- Bernie Sanders holds the delegate lead, but Joe Biden is emboldened by endorsements from two candidates who dropped out in recent days.
- In California, Biden stopped by Oakland before heading to Los Angeles.
- Mike Bloomberg, who is banking on a Super Tuesday victory after skipping the early primaries, was in Florida ... which doesn’t vote today.
- A smattering of voting issues popped up in Texas, California, Tennesee and Minnesota.
- As voters took to the polls, lawmakers on Capitol Hill fretted about coronavirus.
- Donald Trump attended a roundtable with the National Institutes of Health to address the outbreak, and the Fed lowered interest rates as a protective measure.
We’re closing this blog, and I’m passing the baton to my colleague Joan E Greve, who will report the results and more. Follow her here:
Chula Vista, California’s mayor endorsed Mike Bloomberg. The city’s assemblywoman picked Elizabeth Warren. What do the voters have to say? The Guardian’s West Coast reporter Mario Koran brings us this dispatch:
On paper, this should be Bernie Sanders country. Sanders, the clear front runner, boasts 42% of the state’s Latino vote. Chula Vista, just a 10-minute trolley ride away from the US-Mexico border, is about 61% Latino; nearly half the city speaks Spanish.
But Warren has made significant inroads here, grabbing the endorsement of Lorena Gonzalez, the high-powered, Latina assemblywoman who represents this district. Last month Gonzalez joined Julian Castro as they stumped for Warren at a brewery not far from Chula Vista.
Chula Vista’s mayor, Mary Salas, appeared to be swayed by neither: Her endorsement went to Mike Bloomberg, adding to a growing list of major US cities whose leaders have embraced the former NYC mayor.
Some of the cities whose mayors have endorsed Bloomberg are also the beneficiaries of hundreds of millions in grant money from Bloomberg Philanthropies — though Bloomberg’s campaign has scoffed at the suggestion that his support is purchased.
A visit to the polls proved that the political view in Chula Vista defies a simple narrative.
“Mike proved he can run a city. Realistically, he can take on Trump,” said 19-year-old Rosalinda Gomez said outside of her Chula Vista polling place.
But her friend, Dafne Ariza, believes Sanders is the better candidate to address the issues that matter most to her.
“Sanders is for everything I care about - immigration reform, LGBTQ rights,” Dafne says.
Meanwhile, Xochitl, 76, said she wants to see better health care and higher wages — a response that tracks with polling that shows Latino voters prioritize health care and wages even ahead of immigration.
As for how Xochitl voted today, “es un secreto”, she said.
Here are some of the voting issues that popped up in Super Tuesday states
The issues come as there is heightened scrutiny on the reliability and security of election machines in America. There is no evidence any of the malfunctions or other issues were caused by hackers or bad actors, reports the Guardian’s voting rights correspondent Sam Levine.
- Texas, a closely-watched state, had several technical glitches. The state’s voter lookup tool briefly crashed Tuesday morning because of heavy online traffic. It was later back up and running.
- There were glitches with printers in Bexar county, long lines in Dallas, and a shortage of poll workers in Travis county after many poll workers didn’t show up. The Travis county clerk said one of the reasons people didn’t come to work was out of coronavirus concerns.
- There were also issues with printers in two North Carolina counties that were quickly fixed, the Raleigh News and Observer reported. Democracy NC, a civic group helping to monitor voting in the state, said there were also issues with curbside voting access for people with disabilities.
- In California, 15 counties had issues connecting to the statewide voter database, making it difficult to update voter information once people cast their ballots, according to the Los Angeles Times. In Los Angeles counties, there were also some long lines as voters cast their ballots using a new election system for the first time.
- Tennessee voters also faced additional hurdles after tornadoes ripped through the state and killed at least 22 people Tuesday. In Nashville, several polling locations were closed because of the disaster. Civil rights groups asked state election officials to extend voting for several days to accommodate people affected by the disaster.
- In Minnesota, the secretary of state apologized after a staffer redirected voters using the state’s voter lookup tool to a progressive website. The staffer had a “serious lapse of judgment,” Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon said.
You can’t walk by a busy intersection on election day in San Francisco without someone trying to hand you a voter guide from the San Francisco League of Pissed Off Voters, writes The Guardian’s Vivian Ho:
The progressive group that describes itself as “political geeks in a torrid love affair with San Francisco” has been issuing voter guides since 2004 for local, state and national politics. In November, for the first time in the organization’s history, every item the group endorsed won.
But Tuesday’s voter guide had one very prominent item with no position: that of president.
Cynthia Crews-Pollock, who is on the steering committee of the League of Pissed Off Voters, explained that at the endorsement meeting in December, the group was of three separate camps: “One camp of the league said we should sole endorse Bernie,” she said. “One camp said we should endorse Bernie and Warren for progressive unity. Another camp said no, we should not make an endorsement - we should focus on local politics only.”
Since no camp got a majority, the league took the position of no position - which is different than no endorsement. “I think it’s good because progressive voters are not monolithic,” Crews-Pollock said. “Everybody has a different strategy of how to get a progressive candidate in office.”
The position of no position gets tougher, however, with Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar mobilizing their moderate voters behind Joe Biden. But Crews-Pollock is not discouraged. “Forty-six states haven’t voted yet, and the way that Biden wants to spring ahead against Bernie is to have his competition drop out,” she said. “That says that our primary system is broken. So in the primaries, you should vote with your heart.”
The Guardian’s West Coast reporter Vivian Ho brings us this dispatch from San Francisco:
San Francisco is electric on election days. Volunteers are out before the sun rises, waving signs supporting their candidates and passing out voter guides. Voters walk out of polling stations, proudly wearing their red “I voted!” stickers like badges of honor.
“I don’t want to get too overly optimistic because I’ve been a progressive my whole life, but this is the first time that any candidate I’ve voted for has ever had this good of a chance,” said Mokai DePolo, 65, as he balanced two large Bernie Sanders signs against his shoulder.
A few weeks ago, Stacey DePolo, 45, registered the website, berniewon.me – it leads back to this New York Times opinion piece. “Because he already won by shifting the possibility of debate, with the movement he’s created, with our revolution,” she said. “Now we have all the candidates fighting over who’s more progressive, whose Green Deal is better than whose Green Deal. Bernie already won, no matter what happens.”
Could coronavirus convince Republicans to back public healthcare?
Healthcare has been a major – or even the main – issue for voters in the primaries so far and is sure to factor into many Super Tuesday voters’ decisions today. Amid the coronavirus outbreak, even Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill are advocating for the sort of public healthcare that all the Democratic presidential candidates are proposing (in varying forms).
Representative Ted Yoho, a Republican of Florida who has opposed the Affordable Care Act, nevertheless advocated for free coronavirus testing and treatment for uninsured Americans, according to HuffPost’s Matt Fuller. “You can look at it as socialized medicine, but in the face of an outbreak, a pandemic, what’s your options?” Yoho said.
Lawmakers – who skew older, tend to travel a lot – seem to be especially wary of contracting the disease. BuzzFeed News’ Paul McLeod reports that Bill Cassidy, a Republican senator from Louisiana, was generous with his hand sanitizer.
The mayor of Richmond, Virginia, said Joe Biden’s South Carolina victory was an “earthquake” in the Democratic primary. The Guardian’s senior political reporter Daniel Strauss reports:
“I think in South Carolina there was an earthquake that shook up this race,” said Richmond mayor Levar Stoney. “And it showed that the bedrock of the Democratic, that being African American voters, had a clear choice for the nomination. And his name is Joseph R Biden.”
Stoney’s comments come just days after the South Carolina Democratic primary which Biden won by double digits. Since then Biden has enjoyed a wave of endorsements, including from two moderate rivals in the primary, Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar and former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, who dropped out and backed him.
The victory and endorsements have acted as a jolt of optimism for Biden’s supporters.
Asked if Stoney thought former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, one of the remaining other more moderate candidates left in the primary, should drop out, the Richmond mayor said it was up to the mayor. But he said supporters curious about Bloomberg would come to Biden now.
“I’m never going to tell anyone to get out of the race,” Stoney said. “That’s for the mayor to choose. But what I recognize that some folks have flirted, dated, dabbled a little with Mike Bloomberg over the last couple months and they’re coming home. They’re coming home to Joe. That is comforting over the last three days, since the Saturday victory in South Carolina. It’s time to stop the flirtation and get serious.”
Bloomberg, pressed on his expectations for Super Tuesday voting, claimed that: “If there’s only three candidates, you can’t do worse than that.
But, of course, he can, Richard Luscombe reports from West Palm Beach:
After a reporter politely reminded him that Elizabeth Warren remained alongside himself, Sanders and Joe Biden, Bloomberg appeared confused. “I didn’t realize she’s still in, is she?” he wondered.
He was also prickly when asked if he’d considered withdrawing from the race after two poor debate performances and tepid polling numbers.
“Have you asked Joe if he is going to drop out?” Bloomberg responded. “When you ask him, then you can call me.”
Next up: Orlando and a rally-the-troops visit to one of 20 field offices statewide that his free-spending Bloomberg campaign hopes to have operational before the primary. Then it was on to the Palm Beach county convention center four miles from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort for the evening rally-cum-watch party.
The former New York mayor is picking up the tab for supporters’ parking and refreshments tonight, dipping further into the $500m war chest he has invested into his campaign from his estimated personal fortune of $55bn.
Mike Bloomberg is in Florida, which isn't a Super Tuesday state
Richard Luscombe reports from West Palm Beach:
Bloomberg spent Super Tuesday hopping around Florida, a state that does not vote until 17 March, before heading to an evening rally in West Palm Beach – Donald Trump’s back yard – to await his fate.
The former New York mayor has already spent about $35m on TV ads in the Sunshine State two weeks before primary day, and his furious criss-crossing today, while his opponents are elsewhere, highlights the importance to his campaign of Florida’s 219 delegates.
First up was the politicians’ traditional photo-op stopover in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood, slurping on coffee-flavored ice cream from a Cuban-owned parlor on Calle Ocho. Mindful of his surroundings, he slammed Bernie Sanders’ questionable recent comments praising post-revolution literacy programs on the communist Caribbean island.
“We will not win Florida with a candidate who sings the praises of Fidel Castro and downplays the atrocities he has committed in Cuba,” Bloomberg said. “Some of those comments are hurtful and offensive to [those] who have come here to start a new life.”
Minnesota’s top election official apologized Tuesday after a staffer redirected voters to a progressive group’s website when they tried to look up their polling locations
Steve Simon, Minnesota’s secretary of state, said the staffer had a “serious lapse of judgment”. The staffer linked to the website after the secretary of state’s pollfinder website went down on Tuesday. The office planned to go to a non-partisan backup, but the staffer diverted from that plan and linked to a poll location finder on boldprogressives.org. The website belongs to the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which backs Senator Elizabeth Warren. The link was up for 17 minutes, Simon said in a statement.
“The moment this error was discovered, we corrected the link,” Simon, a Democrat, said in a statement. “Anyone who knows me knows that I place the highest possible value on the nonpartisanship of this office, and I deeply regret this error.”
While Biden was inside meeting with supporters, dozens of Bernie Sanders supporters rallied and chanted outside Buttercup Diner
“Bernie has historically been the candidate to fight for the folks that we fight for on a daily basis, sitting across from us in our offices, sitting across from us as we’re doing radical sidewalk therapy,” said Danielle Herrera, an associate therapist at the Harm Reduction Therapy Center. “He’s been working for them since the beginning of his political campaign and we support that.”
Herrera and her two coworkers work near Buttercup Diner, and came out when they heard Biden was going to stop by. They joined the Bernie supporters when they saw them rallying, waving “Not Me, Us” signs in support.
Leticia Brown, another therapist with the Harm Reduction Therapy Center, said as a Bernie supporter, she has some concern about the recent momentum behind Biden with the Buttigieg and Klobuchar endorsements.
“But I’m not worried in the sense that we’ve had folks that we thought were longshots before,” Brown said. “We had Barack Obama in the presidency and I remember when he announced that he was going to run, I thought, this is too soon. This is too early. Bernie, the numbers, the math is behind him. Things are being pulled in ways when it’s not just a fringe movement. People are impacted by all the things that he talks about. For us, if we fall into fear and worry, then we are just going to keep doing the same thing with the same results. Just having hope and believing this can happen needs to be a driving force for people going to the ballots today.”
Biden meets and greets voters in Oakland, California
Dozens of Biden supporters squeezed in with members of the press at Buttercup Diner in Oakland, California, for Joe Biden to make his first of two appearances in California today.
Capt “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot who emergency-landed a plane on the Hudson river, and Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf were among the local big names to welcome Biden to Oakland.
After ordering a slice of coconut cream pie, Biden shook hands and took selfies with supporters at the diner. “The mayor was like, ‘This is one of our brightest stars, a small-business owner,’ and he was like, ‘What do you sell,’ and I said, ‘I sell sex toys,’ and he was like, ‘I got to come by!’” said Nenner Joiner, owner of Feelmore, the first black-owned sex shop in Oakland.
Joiner voted for Biden because “we’re going to make sure that the next candidate that gets in there is actually going to win.”
“It’s not just the next person to win – I like his morals, I like his values, I like his judgments,” Joiner said. “Let’s just hope that he also has the relationships to build a better future for us.”
In Texas, there were long waits and a few glitches, the Guardian’s voting rights reporter Sam Levine writes:
In Dallas, one voter told WFAA he waited for two hours at the Fretz Park branch library. Another voter told the station he was leaving without casting a ballot after waiting an hour in line.
In Travis county, home of Austin, the county clerk said voting had gotten off to a “rocky start” because pollworkers hadn’t shown up for work. One of the reasons they weren’t showing up, the clerk said, was out of concerns over the coronavirus.
In Bexar county, home of San Antonio, there were issues when voting first started because of difficulties connecting to printers at the precinct, said Jacque Callanen, the county election administrator. One polling location had no power, leaving the machines operating on batteries, KTSA reported.
The Guardian’s Los Angeles correspondent Sam Levin has been chatting with voters in Koreatown, where there’s a lot of enthusiasm for Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and also some fear about Joe Biden’s recent rise:
“I’ve never felt like I trusted a political candidate before,” said Nat Tereshchenko, a 23 year old who works for a union and voted for Sanders. “Our system just doesn’t care about working-class people. To see the way he’s mobilized people who haven’t voted before means so much ... What he is proposing is not all that radical. I want to push his ideas even further.”
Tereshchenko said they were worried about Biden and frustrated Warren was still in the race: “It makes me scared. If Biden secures the nomination, we will definitely have Trump.”
Nelson Cole, 26, who works for a literary manager and also voted for Sanders, said he was hopeful that Sanders or Warren would win: “Seeing the panic about Bernie shows just how much excitement there is for this new direction. If it’s Bernie or Warren, I think we’ll hear them talk more about the issues and less about the distractions.” He said he was encouraged by the turnout in the voter center: “I’m seeing a lot of young people out here, so I’m hoping for the best.”
Pooja Nair, a 32-year-old lawyer, voted for Warren and was once in her class when the senator was a professor: “She has a path forward. I think it’s narrow, but I don’t think it’s out of the question. The field just narrowed. I believe in the primary, you vote for the candidate you believe in.” She said most of her friends were choosing between Biden and Sanders: “Any Democrat will have a much more pro-science attitude. That’s what we need during a global health crisis.”
In Oxford, England, Bernie Sanders’ brother Larry has cast his absentee ballot ... the Guardian US chief reporter Ed Pilkington writes:
Larry Sanders, a Green Party spokesperson in the UK, has been feeling “the Bernard” today.
The Brooklyn-born politician, 84, who has lived in the UK since the late 1960s, has just participated in the Democrats Abroad primary. He voted in Oxford for his younger brother who he calls Bernard, or Bernie to you and me.
“Bernard’s policies are very mainstream,” he told the Oxford Mail outside the polling station.
Asked whether he’d be tempted to move back to the US were his brother to win in November, he replied: “I’d be tempted to visit a lot”.
Though the Sanders brothers have been separated by the Atlantic for more than 50 years, they have a special bond. At the Democratic National Convention in 2016, Larry cast the delegates vote of Democrats Abroad for his brother, giving a tearful speech about how proud their parents would have been of Bernie’s achievements.
Joe Biden is hoping his success in South Carolina can spill over into North Carolina, the Guardian’s David Smith reports from Charlotte. But the former vice-president is facing a stiff challenge from Bernie Sanders:
David and Lisa Ruch voted for Sanders at a polling place at the Wells Fargo Sense Science Garden in rainy Charlotte on Tuesday.
“I just feel we’re in a place where we need a lot of change,” said Lisa, 59, a real estate agent. “We need someone for the people, not a self-promoting president any more. We need change in health care and Bernie can get it done.”
Lisa had considered Biden but admitted: “I’m not sure about his capability in the long term. There’s something a little off.”
Mike Bloomberg had several signs outside the voting place but Lisa was unimpressed: “I feel like he’s a Republican trying to be a Democrat to win an election. He’s just another Donald Trump buying his way in.”
Her husband David, 66, a therapist and life coach, agreed: “I don’t like him. He is certainly a poster child for money in politics.”
David explained his vote for Sanders: “I’m charged by his connection with the people and how he’s trying to build a people’s movement rather than a corporate agenda. He’s been in government a long time fighting for the little guy.”
Donald Trump receives coronavirus briefing at NIH vaccine research center
The president is attending a briefing and roundtable at the National Institutes of Health vaccine research center. His administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak has come under sharp criticism, as health experts warn that hospitals were ill-prepared to handle the influx of cases. Under pressure from Trump, the US Federal Reserve slashed interest rates in an emergency move to protect the economy.
Follow the Guardian’s live coverage of coronavirus and its impact around the world:
In Tennessee, the recent tornadoes have disrupted voting... the Guardian’s Sam Levine reports:
A civil rights group called on officials to extend primary voting after tornadoes significantly damaged the state Tuesday, killing at least 22 people. The letter from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law came after 21 election sites were closed because of the tornado, according to the Tennessean. The outlet reported voters were being redirected to other locations to cast their ballots. Some polling sites opened an hour later than scheduled.
“Given the devastation and loss of life, we urge you to immediately extend voting in the primaries through at least the end of the week to provide voters a fair opportunity to access the polls,” Kristen Clarke, the president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee, wrote in a letter to Governor Bill Lee, Secretary of State Tre Harnett and Mark Goins, the state coordinator of elections.
On a call with reporters Tuesday, Clarke said the group was considering additional action, including a lawsuit if the officials did not extend voting.
What about Biden and Bloomberg?
Biden’s plan calls for $20bn for the National Housing Trust Fund, and Mike Bloomberg’s plan doesn’t specify an amount. All the candidates have pushed for measures to fight housing discrimination.
Diane Yentel, president of the NLIHC, said the plans were all significant: “The federal government has for decades turned its back on the funding investments needed to keep the lowest-income people affordably housed. We’ve never had a moment like this where we’ve had housing policy and the discussion of the crisis and the solutions as a major part of the presidential campaigns before.”
You can read NLHIC breakdowns of the plans for Biden, Bloomberg, Sanders and Warren.
Elizabeth Warren: $500bn toward affordable housing
Warren’s plan calls for investing $500bn over the next ten years to build, preserve and rehab units that will be affordable to lower-income families. The senator is focused on the supply of housing and recognizes that if “we solve affordability at the middle-income level, it doesn’t trickle down”, said Noelle Porter, director of government affairs at the National Housing Law Project, who reviewed the candidates’ plans. “She’s talking about extremely low-income renters … If we solve deep affordability, it trickles back up.”
The Democrats have all proposed investments in the National Housing Trust Fund, which states currently use to build and rehabilitate affordable housing. Currently, there is roughly $260m available in the fund per year, but the nonpartisan National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) recommends that it is expanded to at least $40bn a year. As senator, Warren pushed legislation that would increase the amount to $45bn. The Sanders campaign’s housing proposal calls for $148bn.
Bernie Sanders: A $2.5tn “housing for all” plan
Sanders’ plan is in some ways the most radical in terms of the scope of proposed funding and the kinds of regulations he is targeting, according to some tenants’ rights activists and supporters of the Vermont senator. Most significantly, he is the only candidate to propose a national rent control standard, meaning an annual cap on rent increases, and is pushing a policy that would prevent landlords from evicting tenants for arbitrary or retaliatory reasons.
It’s a policy that tenant organizers have long pursued at the local level, but has never been pursued by a frontrunner presidential candidate at the federal scale.
“It’s what tenants need now to just have the most basic levels of protection,” said Lacei Amodei, an advocate with the Eviction Defense Collaborative in Hayward, California, who endorsed Sanders. “With soaring rents and so many people being evicted … it is one of the most urgent issues.”
Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal, a Sanders supporter and co-founder of the LA Tenants Union (a group that has not endorsed a candidate), said it was remarkable to have a candidate acknowledge that the profit motives that drive the housing market are not good for the public. National rent control, she said, could mean “incredible relief for tenants … and more stable communities”.
How candidates would address California’s housing crisis
Voters across California say that the most important issue to them is the state’s severe housing and homelessness crisis, and the Democratic presidential candidates appear to be responding. And across the country, there is a shortfall of roughly 7m homes that are affordable and available to the lowest-income people.
The 2020 campaigns have all released detailed housing policy plans. Here’s what you need to know about them.
In Oakland, California, Joe Biden was joined by mayor Libby Schaaf and hero pilot Sully Sullenberger at Buttercup Diner. The former vice president ordered a coconut cream pie, per the Guardian’s Vivian Ho.
Biden, riding high off a wave of endorsements from his former 2020 rivals and Democratic politicians across the country, said he’s “feeling really good today”.
The moderate Democrat is divisive in Oakland.
As Sanders supporters rallied outside the diner, Biden met with supporters inside.
Mario also spoke to several Bernie Sanders supporters:
Zaira Martinez, a 24 year-old-student and mental health worker, said the issue she cares most about is healthcare – an answer that tracks with polling which shows health care, not immigrant rights, as the number one priority for Latino voters.
“I really appreciate consistency, and Sanders’ record goes back so many years. He doesn’t bend,” said Martinez.
And it may be the voice of Latinas, not Latinos, that register a bigger impact. Research shows that Latinas consistently vote at higher rates than men.
The Sanders campaign has invested a lot of time and resources to reach Latino voters in this state.
Hello! Maanvi Singh, here taking over from the west coast.
Our reporters are all over California, covering the elections in the most populous US state. In San Diego, near the US-Mexico border, the Guardian’s Mario Koran brings us a first dispatch:
There’s steady foot traffic into the polling place in San Diego’s Barrio Logan neighborhood, a historically Latino neighborhood where murals tell the story of a hard-fought Chicano movement.
As Bernie Sanders is slated to run away with California’s delegates, he’ll look to predominantly Latino communities, where polling shows him as the candidate of choice. But even in historically brown neighborhoods, a quick visit to the polls shows no votes can be taken for granted.
Augustin, 49, a Barrio Logan resident who preferred not to give his last name, said the last four years that Donald Trump has made him a believer.
“I didn’t vote for him in 2016, but he’s done a good job. Against all odds, he’s gotten things done. He’s not always nice, but he says what he believes,” said Augustin, who identifies as Latino.
Here's where things stand
My colleague on the west coast, Maanvi Singh, will take on the blog now as Super Tuesday voting - and related drama - continues. Later, Joan Greve in Washington, DC, will helm the blog as the polls begin to close and the results trickle in tonight.
Here’s what’s happened so far today:
- Former FBI director James Comey just endorsed Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination.
- Kamala Harris: will she or won’t she? Endorse Biden and, if so, when? Rumors and reports abound.
- On the second most important voting day of the 2020 election (after election day itself in November), it’s a fierce battle between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, with major efforts at disruption of what could become a two-horse race by Elizabeth Warren and Mike Bloomberg.
- The Federal Reserve cut interest rates in a rare emergency move, to try to mitigate the economic effects of coronavirus. But it wasn’t enough to satisfy Donald Trump.
US weighs paying for treatment of uninsured coronavirus sufferers - report
The Trump administration is considering using a national disaster program to pay hospitals and doctors for their care of uninsured people infected with the coronavirus.
As concerns rise over costs of treating some of the 27 million Americans without health coverage, the government is looking for news ways to step in, a person familiar with the conversations told the Wall Street Journal. This would certainly be unexpected.
The WSJ reports that:
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has been in discussions about using that program to pay providers who treat uninsured patients with coronavirus, the person said.
Dr. Robert Kadlec, who is the assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services, also said Tuesday at a congressional hearing that discussions are being held about using the National Disaster Medical System reimbursement program.
About 2% of people infected with coronavirus have died and about 5% have developed serious infections that may require oxygen therapy or ventilators, based on research on cases in China.
In the U.S., there are more than 100 coronavirus cases, Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at the congressional hearing Tuesday that “we are seeing community transmission in a few places.”
The administration is focusing on the costs of caring for uninsured people because individuals otherwise would have coverage through Medicaid, employers, or through private insurance purchased on the individual market, according to the person familiar with the conversations. No final decision has been made.
Meanwhile, the Guardian reports on the unpreparedness of the US health system.
Comey endorses Biden
Just what Joe was looking for, obviously. Kamala? No Comey, James Comey. The former FBI director just endorsed Joe Biden.
Comey was fired by Trump in 2017 when, effectively, the FBI director refused to pledge loyalty to the president and extricate him from the Trump-Russia investigation that Comey was in charge of. The move triggered the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller to take over the inquiry.
Comey has been very outspoken against Trump ever since, but has flaws of his own, having misjudged in the later stages of the 2016 election the situation where the FBI kept secret the fact that they were investigating Trump in what was undoubtedly a huge international scandal - while disclosing a last-minute probe into Hillary Clinton’s emails on Anthony Weiner’s computer (the disgraced ex-congressman then married to Hillary Clinton’s right-hand aide Huma Abedin).
The emails turned out to be harmless, in the sense of whether they were a threat to national security, but the very disclosure of the probe at that sensitive time was a serious blow to Clinton.
Comey also admitted in December “real sloppiness” over the handling of surveillance of a Trump campaign adviser.
California governor votes on Super Tuesday
Gavin Newsom’s a fan of Kamala Harris and since the California senator dropped out of the presidential race in early December, it’s been and remains unclear who the governor is backing for the Democratic nomination.
Apparently we’ll have to wait a little longer to find out.
Regardless of what the next few hours bring in the “will she, won’t she” endorse Biden cliffhanger, surely no-one will think of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris today without their minds flicking immediately back to that pivotal moment in the second Democratic debate last June, in Miami, when Harris scored a bullseye against Biden and her campaign took off like a rocket (until she fell to Earth in December).
My politics colleague Lauren Gambino wrote at the time:
It was the most dramatic moment of the evening and came in response to a question about race and policing, when Harris interjected, saying that she had a right to respond as the only black candidate on stage. The California senator and former prosecutor then directed her comments to Biden, denouncing his record on race.
“I do not believe you are a racist,” Harris said, looking directly at the former vice-president. “But,” she continued, “it is personal. And it was actually hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country.”
She accused Biden of supporting policies that would have prevented young minority students like herself from attending school in majority-white districts. She said when he opposed bussing, there was a little black girl in Oakland, California, who was being bussed to a better school.
“There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bussed to school every day,” she said. “And that little girl was me.”
Growing visibly upset, Biden looked away. “That is a mischaracterization of my position across the board. I did not praise racists. That is not true,” he said.
Harris to endorse Biden - reports
California Senator Kamala Harris, who dropped out of the presidential race in early December, may be ready to endorse Joe Biden....
That would be a huge fillip for Biden, not least in California, where he is extremely keen to spoil a Sanders primary landslide. But it will be a big bonus nationwide as Super Tuesday voters stream to the polls, a terrific last-minute boost for the former VP in his dramatic comeback.
NBC’s Bay Area anchor Raj Mathai has just posted a crucial update on his previous news, however.
Watch this space.
All of the Democrats running for president have pitched substantial climate plans - responding to voters’ increasing concerns about rising temperatures and their widespread effects.
Two in three registered voters (66%) are worried about global warming, according to Yale’s climate change communication program. That includes 84% of liberal Democrats, 72% of moderate/conservative Democrats, and about half of liberal/moderate Republicans, but only a quarter of conservative Republicans.
In one Super Tuesday state, Texas, two-thirds of voters want to develop more renewable energy.
But presidential contenders, particularly the more moderate ones, are cautiously navigating climate politics.
Both Joe Biden and Mike Bloomberg have refused to commit to banning fracking, which will likely give them an edge in oil and gas states.
Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren would ban the method of extracting oil and gas, which would drastically reduce drilling in the US. Banning fracking, however, would require action from Congress, which seems politically untenable.
Supporters of Biden and Bloomberg say they are focused on the actions they can achieve with executive authority.
The candidates also split over nuclear power - which provides more than half of zero-carbon electricity in the US. Many experts argue that climate plans that don’t include nuclear aren’t serious.
Sanders would prohibit the construction of new nuclear plants and stop renewing licenses for existing ones.
Warren said she opposed new nuclear plants and would phase out existing ones, but she has since backtracked. California has already shut down its nuclear plants.
It was a scene that was hard to imagine just one week ago. Joe Biden, 77, and until Sunday his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination Pete Buttigieg, 38, appeared together before a tiny crowd in the Chicken Scratch restaurant in Dallas, Texas, where Buttigieg endorsed the former vice president, Reuters writes.
Fighting back tears, Biden compared the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, to his late son Beau, saying it was the highest compliment he could offer any person.
Having ditched his own bid for the nomination, Buttigieg, who had spent months calling for generational change, said Biden would “bring back dignity to the White House.”
Buttigieg’s endorsement was the most eye-catching among over 100 that flooded in for Biden from mostly moderate Democrats after his dominant South Carolina win on Saturday, narrowly preceded by Amy Klobuchar’s endorsement and followed by former candidate Beto O’Rourke’s last night.
Biden’s comeback in South Carolina, after poor showings in other early voting states, was exactly the kind of a victory that Democratic Party officials, alarmed that front-runner Bernie Sanders is far too liberal to beat Trump, had been craving, according to more than two dozen people who either gave their endorsements or were involved behind the scenes.
“I hadn’t planned on endorsing anybody, but then I started getting worried that Bernie Sanders would become the nominee,” said former Senator Barbara Boxer of California, a longtime Senate colleague of both Biden and Sanders.
On the eve of the South Carolina primary, she called longtime Biden aide Steve Ricchetti, telling him she would endorse Biden if he won the race.
People both inside and outside the Biden campaign said that while the effort to garner endorsements involved calls from Biden aides asking for help, most decided on their own.
“People woke up and got a sense of urgency,” said one person close to Biden.
Buttigieg’s endorsement, in particular, surprised Biden.
Biden did not ask Buttigieg for his endorsement nor did the former mayor say he was going to announce support, Biden said at the Texas chicken restaurant event.
The event, which lasted only a few minutes and involved a small crowd of press, campaign supporters and people who just happened to be at the restaurant, was hastily arranged to accommodate a quick, last-minute announcement, said one person familiar with the matter.
Virginia is the fourth-largest prize on Super Tuesday, awarding 99 pledged delegates, ranking behind California (415), Texas (228) and North Carolina (110), the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.
It’s a huge day in this increasingly-blue swing state and will be a useful early indicator of how things are going for the leading candidates Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren when polls close at 7pm ET. Meanwhile, WDBJ7, the CBS-affiliated television station licensed to Roanoke, Va, reports:
Virginia Tech Professor and WDBJ7 Political Analyst, Bob Denton, said Virginia’s primary will likely come down to a three-way race among Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg.
Elizabeth Warren remains in the race, but in the last 48 hours, Tom Steyer, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar have ended their campaigns.
Biden, Denton said, has picked up momentum following a decisive win in South Carolina.
“In a matter of one month he’s gone from a distant third to first in the most recent poll, by three or four points,” Denton said, “so it makes him extremely viable.”
Denton said Sanders has an opportunity to make a statement.
“And if he has a very strong night,” Denton said, “that will certainly send an interesting message indeed for the Democrats.”
And Bloomberg must prove himself in Virginia, after focusing his attention and millions in campaign spending on Super Tuesday, WDBJ7 reports from Blacksburg, Va, the home of Virginia Tech university.
Virginia congresswoman and moderate Democrat Abigail Spanberger, part of the Blue Wave in the 2018 midterms, who flipped her red district in her first ever run for office, mourns the departure of Klobuchar and urges her fellow Virginians to get out and vote in this key primary today.
Abby to Amy:
Rocky in the Rockies?
Will Joe Biden pull back from way behind in Colorado primary voting today and, if making significant progress, how many delegates will he pull in?
Two Colorado polls last week gave Sanders leads of 12 and 14 percentage points over the rest of the field in the purple state, the Denver Post reports.
Those were pre-Biden South Carolina primary landslide, obviously, but the indications had been that Elizabeth Warren could come in second behind Sanders. So will the Biden phoenix-like rise of late make a difference tonight?
State watchers expect a strong voter turn-out in Colorado today and a lot of undecided voters making late decisions - perhaps wise in light of the developments of the last 48 hours.
It’s definitely Bernie’s to lose.
Bernie just voted
He’s in his home state of Vermont today and will be there tonight as the results come rolling in. It could be a long night, especially waiting for a result in California, where the polls don’t close until 8pm local time. Will Bernie Sanders follow his strong performances in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada voting with a good show east and west? Will it be enough to hold off Joe Biden?
If he beats Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts tonight it could be a harbinger for where Warren’s campaign is going to end up. But will it mean the start of a sweep for Sanders, or will Biden capitalize strongly on his South Carolina win - leaving California as a late-night cliffhanger?
The Boston Globe has a handy “everything you need to know on Super Tuesday in Massachusetts” piece, here. The Globe has endorsed Warren for the Democratic nomination.
Biden to finish Super Tuesday night in California
And my senior politics reporter colleague Lauren Gambino will be on the spot when Joe Biden rounds off a hectic day of campaigning in some key Super Tuesday states, with an event in Los Angeles.
Here she shares her thoughts on what to expect from Super Tuesday with the Guardian’s award-winning news podcast Today in Focus. At 29 minutes long it’s the perfect commuter-listen.
Fed cut not enough for Trump
Ah, so the president perhaps thinks the Federal Reserve’s emergency rate cut over coronavirus concerns is kinda cute, but Not Enough for Potus’s liking.
Follow all the business details on our dedicated live blog out of London.
Super Duper Tuesday
Today is the biggest voting event of 2020 before actual election day in November. With California bringing its primary voting forward to join Super Tuesday and the warring moderate wing of the Democratic party suddenly coalescing around Joe Biden, it’s going to be an exhilarating/nail-biting night.
They say everything is big in Texas and the biggest thing going on there today is Joe Biden’s hope - because if he loses Tex and California to Bernie it could be very grim for his prospects.
After a rambunctious rally in Dallas last night, after a string of key endorsements, the Biden campaign is reportedly feeling very confident.
“I expect to win Texas,” Cristobal Alex, a senior adviser to Biden and native of El Paso, told Politico.
The Lone Star state will award 261 pledged delegates at today’s primary.
If Texas is really in play for the Democrats this November, today is a good day to start.
Down ticket, new names are emerging in the effort to push Texas to the blue end of purple and try to flip the state.
Barbra: “We can’t go on like this”
We HAVE to pivot now. To Barbra Streisand. One of Hollywood’s most loyal Democratic donors over the years, the 77-year-old’s written a searing op-ed for Variety, so stop what you’re doing and check this out before you hit the polling station, if you’re in a Super Tuesday voting state.
She says she fears the country “could be extinguished” if Donald Trump wins reelection in November.
“Every morning I wake up, holding my breath while I turn on my phone to see the latest news. I think to myself, ‘It can’t be worse than yesterday.’ But when the news loads, I think, ‘Ohhhhh, yes, it is worse.
Since 2016, we’ve been dragged down into the mud of Trump’s swamp. We can’t go on like this. It’s too dangerous.”
“Every day, he takes another swipe at the pillars of our democracy, but we cannot allow him to irrevocably change this country,” Streisand writes. “The ‘beacon of hope’ that is America could be extinguished if he’s given another four years.”
Federal Reserve cuts US interest rates
The US Federal Reserve has slashed US interest rates in an emergency measure to protect America’s economy from the coronavirus. Follow our business live blog for all the developments, here.
In an unscheduled move, the Fed is cutting its benchmark rate to between 1% and 1.25%. That’s down from 1.5% to 1.75%.
The move comes two weeks before its next official meeting, but just three hours after that joint conference call with G7 finance ministers and central bankers.
The Fed says:
The fundamentals of the U.S. economy remain strong. However, the coronavirus poses evolving risks to economic activity. In light of these risks and in support of achieving its maximum employment and price stability goals, the Federal Open Market Committee decided today to lower the target range for the federal funds rate by 1/2 percentage point, to 1 to 1-1/4 percent.
The Committee is closely monitoring developments and their implications for the economic outlook and will use its tools and act as appropriate to support the economy.
Trump loyalist for NSC post - report
Michael Ellis, a White House lawyer and former counsel to the House intelligence committee under Republican Devin Nunes is the new senior director for intelligence on the National Security Council.
It’s the latest instance of Donald Trump elevating a trusted loyalist to control the intelligence community, according to a Politico report this morning.
Ellis, a deputy to White House lawyer John Eisenberg, started in the role on Monday, according to a senior administration official and a former national security official. Ellis left the counsel’s office so won’t be dual-hatted with his new job.
The office of the director for intelligence serves as the day to day connective tissue between the intelligence community and the White House.
Sensitive information coming in from the intelligence agencies will go to that office, especially if it is in hard copy form. The office also coordinates covert action activities between the White House and the intelligence community, and it’s where the NSC server is housed that stores the most sensitive classified information.
Ellis featured in the Ukraine impeachment scandal, according to testimony heard by the House Intelligence Committee during the impeachment investigation.
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a decorated Army officer who served as the National Security Council’s director for Ukraine, told lawmakers in October that Ellis and Eisenberg were the ones who decided to move the record of Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky into the NSC’s top-secret codeword system—a server normally used to store highly classified material that only a small group of officials can access.
Warren still on the hunt
Elizabeth Warren will be deep in a rabbit hole tonight if she doesn’t make a surprisingly good showing in Super Tuesday voting.
She badly needs to win, at the very least, her home state of Massachusetts, which she represents in the Senate - but there’s a danger of Bernie Sanders winning there tonight.
If she doesn’t win Mass or Oklahoma, where she grew up, the landscape will be bleak, with a path to the nomination (contested party convention...?) very had to see. She gives fantastic performances on the trail and the enthusiasm mask has never slipped, but this has been a devastating few months for Warren’s campaign - especially as she is arguably the most qualified of anyone for the White House (including the incumbent).
Warren’s busy on a Twitter fundraising streak this morning, as if oblivious to the fact that Buttigieg and Klobuchar have abruptly dropped out and moved quickly to heal division in the Democratic ranks, despite beating her in the early contests.
And progressive rival Bernie Sanders has mountains more support at this point, based on most recent polls, in states from New England to California via Texas.
Does the candidate with “a plan for that” have a plan for tomorrow morning if she tanks tonight?
G7 leaders to tackle coronavirus effect
US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has said the Group of Seven leading industrial countries agreed this morning to do “everything possible” to limit harm from the coronavirus outbreak to the world’s economies.
There was an international special conference call on this earlier this morning, led by Mnuchin and US Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell, with finance and economics ministers from around the globe.
You can follow all the developments live on our dedicated coronavirus blog, here.
And all the business news on our live blog, here.
Klobuchar denies she was pressured to quit
Just hours after endorsing former Joe Biden for president, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar joined NBC News’ Today program this morning - and firmly rejected the notion that she and other Democrats are trying to crush progressive champ Bernie Sanders in the 2020 race.
“You want a candidate that not just builds a coalition of fired-up Democrats, which we’ve got, but also brings in independents, moderate Republicans. That’s how we won back the House of Representatives [in the 2018 midterm elections], and that’s what Joe Biden can do,” Klobuchar told program host Savannah Guthrie.
She added, “I don’t look at the Mayor [Pete Buttigieg, who dropped out on Sunday], Beto O’Rourke [who’s been MIA since he dropped out of the presidential race late last year] and myself as ‘establishment’.”
And she continued: “I look at us as new leaders for the party, fresh faces for the party and we’re basically saying we’ve got to win here and that’s why we’re supporting Joe Biden...None of us had talked to each other. We came to our own decisions...We made the decision, instead of a personal victory for ourselves or a personal quest that this was about our country.”
On leaving the Democratic primary race, Klobuchar said: “There literally was no push from anyone. It was a decision I made...The hardest part was actually telling our staff...but I think everyone knew this was the right thing to do.”
And on if she discussed with Biden serving in his administration, should he win the White House in November, Klobuchar said, “No actually not one bit,” and when asked about the possibility of being Biden’s running mate she responded, “I’m just doing my work right now, I’m one day out of having left my own campaign.”
The eventual party nominee chooses his or her own candidate for vice-president, some time after the party convention in the summer.
Hello all, Joanna Walters here: I’m taking over the blog in New York now, from my esteemed colleague in London, Martin Belam, and will be you walking with you through this Super Tuesday morning before passing the baton on to others for an exciting afternoon and then a dramatic night of results. Stay tuned here for all the action.
Former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg appears on primary voting ballots for the first time today and it’s make or break for him. After Biden’s overnight surge of support from his South Carolina result, Bloomberg’s billions could end up counting for very little in his personal race.
He’s spent a record-breaking $566 million of his own money so far on his gamble of launching a campaign but not actually competing in a primary or caucus until today.
And of that, a whopping $215 million has been spent in the 14 Super Tuesday states where primary voters go to the polls today to pick their Democratic party nominee to face Donald Trump in November.
Oddly, Bloomberg’s spending the day in Florida, which doesn’t vote until March 17, at events in Orlando and Miami before watching the results at an event in West Palm Beach, coincidentally the location of Trump’s private resort club Mar-a-Lago and a billionaire snowbird playground.
And here’s Trump’s generous take on his rival.
Donald Trump is inevitably having his say on the Democrat’s Super Tuesday primaries from the comfort of his phone. He’s just been tweeting that voters in Texas and Oklahoma should shun Mike Bloomberg, as he will have a negative impact on their fossil fuel-based energy industries.
Trump has gone on to describe Bloomberg as a “chocker”, which is rapidly becoming the covfefe of election season.
Talking of Mike Bloomberg and Texas, a few hours ago Time published this in-depth look at his campaign from Molly Ball in Houston.
On 3 March, Bloomberg’s big bet will be called. His name will be on the primary ballot for the first time. Sanders holds a delegate lead over a surging Joe Biden, and Bloomberg’s debate flops have some Democrats accusing him of being an obstacle rather than savior, contributing to the clog of moderate contenders that’s preventing Democrats from consolidating around a non-Sanders candidate. Unlike when he was mayor, Bloomberg can’t order those in the path of his blitz to evacuate—not that he hasn’t tried.
Read it here - Time: Mike Bloomberg wants to fix America. But can he fix the Democrats?
Robocalls featuring Obama praise for Biden running in 5 Super Tuesday states
The AP are reporting that a super PAC is sending out robocalls today in five Super Tuesday states that feature positive words about Joe Biden from former president Barack Obama.
Amanda Loveday of Unite the Country PAC says the call is running through Tuesday in Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia.
The call features audio from a speech in which Obama calls Biden “a statesman, leader who sees clearly the challenges facing America in a changing world.”
Loveday said the call also ran in South Carolina before its primary last Saturday and could be used in other states that vote in the future. She says the group did not need permission to use the audio, nor did it seek permission.
Obama has so far gone out of his way not to specifically endorse Biden - or any other candidate - in person. Sources close to the former president have suggested that he feels his voice may be best saved until later in the year, to bring unity to the Democrat campaign against Trump once a nominee is chosen.
Last week the former president threatened legal action against a Republican super PAC that was running an anti-Biden campaign which, he said, used Obama’s words out of context to paint his vice president in a negative light.
Klobuchar says Biden "Exactly what we need right now"
Amy Klobuchar was live on NBC News this morning in her first TV spot since dropping out.
She said she made the decision to quit the race herself. She said that she stepped back while she was attending the commemoration service in Selma at the weekend, and thought to herself “What is better here? What is better for the country?”
She said that announcing her support for Joe Biden last night was an “incredible joyous moment”.
Asked if Super Tuesday was “do or die time” in terms of stopping Bernie Sanders, Klobuchar said: “It’s a big deal tonight. You have Sen. Sanders who has been ahead in a number of the states, but part of that was because there were so many other people. I think you will see some victories of Joe Biden in a number of the states.”
Explaining her preference against Sanders, she says the Democrats want to “win big” and that means nominating a candidate that “brings in independents, moderate Republicans”. On Biden she said “He has this decency, exactly what we need right now”
You can watch the full segment here: Amy Klobuchar rejects idea that moderate Dems are trying to crush Sanders
Here’s a few things worth a read over your coffee this morning:
Jim Newell in Slate suggesting that this Super Tuesday, anything could happen, and all he is willing to predict is that:
Sanders will win a whole bunch of delegates, Biden will win a whole bunch of delegates, and Michael Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren will win some number of delegates. Dead candidates, like Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, might also win some delegates based on either early voting tallies or people who don’t watch the news. Tulsi Gabbard, who is still in the race, will probably not win any delegates. The rest, though, is all unknown.
Read it here - Slate: After Mayhem Monday, it’s Super Tuesday!
Over at The Hill, Niall Stanage has a breakdown of what he says each candidate needs to do. Key takeaways - it is vital for Biden to do better than Bloomberg, Warren must win her home state of Massachusetts, and he didn’t bother working out what Tulsi Gabbard needed. And Sanders?
One key question for Sanders is how he does in Southern states. Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee all vote on Tuesday. Black voters will be crucial to the outcome in those states, and Sanders underperformed with African Americans in South Carolina. His skeptics will be scrutinizing the Super Tuesday results for signs of further weakness in that regard.
Read it here - The Hill: What each candidate needs to do
Away from the results of the election and more about the mechanics of elections temselves, Kim Zetter at Politico has been looking at the business of states investing in their own election tech.
Los Angeles County spent nine years working on a government-designed and owned voting system with the goal of setting a new standard for security, reliability and transparency. Instead, millions of county voters on Super Tuesday will cast ballots on a system in which numerous security flaws were found.
Read it here - Politico: Los Angeles County’s risky voting experiment
Polling locations affected by storm damage in Tennessee
At least 7 people were killed earlier today as two tornadoes touched down in central Tennessee, shredding about 40 buildings across the Nashville area. The state is due to vote today as part of Super Tuesday.
Metro Nashville Public Schools said its schools would be closed Tuesday because of the tornado damage. Wilson County, just east of metro Nashville will close schools for the rest of the week. Election polling sites at schools were expected to remain open, as well as district offices, according to tweets from its official account.
Jeff Roberts of the Elections Commission said in a statement early Tuesday that information about damage to polling stations is being collected as polls open. Any voter in Davidson County whose assigned precinct has been impacted may vote at the Election Commission Offices, the statement said.
Polls open in the state at various times, starting at 7 am CST, depending on the county. Polls will be opening at 8am in Nashville
It’s not just in the 14 Super Tuesday states that Democrats are casting their votes today. 3 March also marks the opening of the Democrats Abroad primary. There are thirteen pledged delegates at stake. The primary runs until 10 March.
To vote, you have to be a US citizen residing abroad, be 18 as of 3 November 2020 and be a member of Democrats Abroad.
One of the earliest voting stations to open was in Bangkok, Thailand, where the primary is taking place amid the coronavirus outbreak. There have been 43 cases and one death in the country. Some voters have been casting their ballots wearing face masks.
Polls open for Super Tuesday
Polls are opening across the US as 14 states vote in the biggest day of the 2020 election campaign so far. Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Mike Bloomberg and Tulsi Gabbard all still vying to win the Democrats nomination to fight Donald Trump for the White House in November.
The primaries in Texas and California are key battle ground, both sending swathes of delegates to the Democratic National Convention. Sanders and Warren are both facing votes in their home states. Biden has been boosted in the last two days bu the endorsements of former candidates Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Beto O’Rourke.
Here’s Lauren Gambino in Los Angeles with our scene-setter for the day.
130 million people live in the states that votes today. That is more than 10 times as many people who live in the four states that have had their say so far. It is also one of the most diverse electorates of the primary season. 25% of the population in these 14 states are Hispanic, with an 11% black population and the 7% Asian population. Altogether the white vote makes up 53%.
Here are the 14 states voting today, when their polls close (in Eastern Time), and how many delegates they have on offer.
Closing at 7pm ET
Vermont (16 delegates)
Closing at 7:30pm
North Carolina (110)
Closing at 8pm
Texas (228) - El Paso closes at 9pm
Closing at 8:30pm
Closing at 9pm
Closing at 10pm
Closing at 11pm
You can’t expect full results on the dot though. In some primaries, for example California, postal ballots still have a couple of days to arrive and be counted after the polls close. They are still valid as long as the post-mark is before 3 March.
Another key question - given the late drop-outs of Amy Klobuchar, Tom Steyer and Pete Buttigieg, what happens to the votes of people who opted for them in early voting? Here’s Maanvi Singh with a quick guide to ‘zombie votes’
Also overnight on the coronavirus outbreak, Donald Trump was flexing his muscles again over interest rates at Federal Reserve - a long-term concern of his.
Responding to news that Australia’s central bank has cut interest rates to a record low due to the “significant effect” of the coronavirus outbreak on the Australian economy, Trump blasted the Fed and Jerome Powell again for their interest rate position.
Demand for CDC to resume publishing coronavirus testing data
There’s been some domestic controversy over the coronavirus outbreak brewing overnight. Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan has picked up on news that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have changed the way it reports the number of cases in the US - removing public information about how many people have been tested.
Pocan tweeted last night to say that he has written to CDC director Robert Redfield demanding to know why this information is no longer available.
In the letter, Pocan says:
Americans are dying. We deserve to know how many Americans have perished from Covid-19, and we deserve to know how many people have been tested for it. Knowing that CDC testing is keeping pace with the likely number of cases is imperative to maintaining public trust.
He goes on to ask when the CDC will resume publishing the information.
Here’s the latest on the coronavirus situation in the US from Hallie Golden in Seattle.
One story that will not go away during the whole of the 2020 election cycle is that of vote security. Associated Press have been looking at some of the measures in place in the first big test of the system since the 2018 midterms. And there’s a new factor at play - coronavirus.
In 2016, the Russians weaponized social media to sow discord among Americans, scanned state and local election systems for cyber vulnerabilities and deployed the targeted release of stolen campaign emails and documents. US intelligence chiefs have warned that foreign interference remains a threat. And the recent outbreak of a new virus could present a bad actor with an opening to spread false information to keep voters away from the polls. We’ve already seen misinformation about the virus on social media go, well, viral.
One California county has sought to address concerns over the coronavirus by sending bottles of hand sanitizer to polling places and asking poll workers to post fliers from the public health department on how to avoid spreading the virus.
Jesse Salinas, the chief elections official in Yolo County, California, told Associated Press that a few poll workers have backed out over concerns but most understand the threat is relatively low. The county had no reported cases as of Monday morning.
“We are hoping people remain calm and still participate in the election process,” Salinas said.
Unlike the fiasco of the Democrat counting at the Iowa caucuses, it will be state and local election officials will be administering Tuesday’s elections.
“Texas voters can rest assured ... that our office and those of local and county elections officials are committed to working hand in hand to ensure smooth elections as well as the integrity of our electoral process,” said Stephen Chang, spokesman for the Texas Secretary of State’s Office.
States vary considerably in their use of technology to run elections. Some utilize computerized voter lists known as electronic pollbooks to check in voters, while others rely on paper. Voters in a few places will be using new electronic voting machines that produce a paper record of voter selections while some voters in Texas, Tennessee and Oklahoma will be using older ones considered vulnerable by election security experts.
In California - widely seen as the most crucial Democrat primary to win - a new publicly owned computerized voting system the first of its kind in the nation will face a crucial test in Los Angeles County, the nation’s largest elections jurisdiction with 5.4 million registered voters.
The new system won conditional state approval despite serious security and technical issues, with the county ordered to offer all voters the option of using hand-marked paper ballots.
An estimated 63 percent of voters were already expected to vote by mail using hand-marked paper ballots. Such ballots are considered the most reliable by election security experts because paper can’t be hacked or altered by programming errors.
If you’d like an indication of where votes might go across the states voting today, then NBC News have got a state-by-state look at who’s leading in the polls.
They give Sanders a clear lead in California, the state where most delegates are up for grabs. Sanders has a tighter six point lead over Biden in Texas, which has 228 pledged delegates on offer.
A word of caution though. Some polling has been done in some states after Biden’s South Carolina victory, but a lot of these figures are going to be a bit stale, as they don’t reflect that Biden win, or that Klobuchar and Buttigieg have dropped. The final destination of the votes from their supporters is going to be one of the things that makes today so intriguing.
Read it here - NBC News: Super Tuesday polls state-by-state look at who’s leading
Good morning. And then there were four. Well, four plus Tulsi Gabbard.
Super Tuesday always looked like being the day that the Democratic nomination field narrowed - but we expected it to be after the results, not in the two days beforehand. The withdrawal of first Pete Buttigieg and then Amy Klobuchar from the race leaves today’s election tantalisingly poised.
For Bernie Sanders, it is about showing that he can keep on picking up those pledged delegates and keep his nose ahead in the race. For Joe Biden, with key moderates now out of the running and backing him, it is a huge opportunity to make himself the clear single leading opponent to Sanders.
Elizabeth Warren needs to do well enough that it seems worthwhile her continuing, although her strategy appears to be just hanging on all the way to the convention, and see what shakes out there.
And Mike Bloomberg needs to see if he can turn his massive ad spend into votes. It is the first time he has been on the ballot paper.
14 states across the country – Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia – as well as one US territory (American Samoa) and Democrats abroad will cast their votes, allocating around a third of the delegates candidates need to get the nod to run against Trump.
Here’s our guide to the night:
Away from the Democratic race, it will be another important day for the Trump administration in its attempts to cope with the coronavirus outbreak, which has now claimed six lives in Washington state.
Donald Trump is visiting a viral pathogenesis laboratory at the National Institutes of Health Vaccine Research Center in Bethesda, Maryland. He will be taking part in a roundtable briefing. There is also expected to be a press briefing by members of the Coronavirus Task Force later this afternoon.