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Pete Buttigieg to pull out of Democratic race for White House

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Reuters

Pete Buttigieg, the former Indiana mayor who made an ambitious run for president, is to end his campaign for the White House, US media report.

The 38-year-old became the first openly gay major-party presidential candidate when he announced he was running for the Democratic nomination.

But despite a successful start, his campaign has failed to gain momentum.

His decision to drop out comes ahead of a key day on Tuesday in the Democratic race to take on Trump.

Fourteen states will vote on Super Tuesday, by the end of which staunch left-winger Bernie Sanders could have an unbeatable lead and be a step closer to the nomination.

Mr Buttigieg surprisingly, and narrowly, won the first event of the primary season, the caucuses in Iowa on 3 February. But he failed to repeat that success and build up crucial delegates, and finished a distant fourth in South Carolina on Saturday.

He also struggled to build support among African-American voters, a point emphasised by his poor showing in South Carolina.

While there has been no formal announcement from Mr Buttigieg’s team, it is expected to confirm the end of his campaign later today.

His departure will leave six Democrats still in the running, including Mr Sanders. They are former vice-president Joe Biden, who won South Carolina convincingly, billionaire Michael Bloomberg, senators Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, and congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

How this news will help Biden

Just over a week ago, Pete Buttigieg had a lead in Democratic convention delegates. Now the former South Bend mayor is out of the race.

That’s how quickly fortunes can change in presidential politics.

In the end, Buttigieg simply couldn’t turn his early success into a national wave of support. While he thrived in the months of retail campaigning in the first two small – and exceedingly white – states, the Nevada and South Carolina results amply demonstrated that he was never going to catch on with the more diverse national Democratic electorate.

It’s still a bit of a shock that Buttigieg pulled the plug rather than compete on Super Tuesday. By doing so, however, he avoids the potential for more defeats and helps Joe Biden, who will certainly appreciate the mayor’s move to clear the field for him to better challenge Bernie Sanders one-on-one.

In the end, Buttigieg made an astounding effort, coming from nowhere to seriously challenge for the nomination, winning the Iowa caucuses and raising massive amounts of campaign cash. It’s a remarkable accomplishment for the first openly gay presidential candidate with a difficult-to-pronounce name who was half the age of his closest presidential rivals.

His campaign will be one for the history books.

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Biden campaign attempts ‘center lane’ vote consolidation after SC

Former Vice President Joe Biden campaign is attempting to consolidate the so-called ‘center lane’ vote following his win in South Carolina.

Plouffe is not an official Biden campaign worker but knows him dating back to their work together in the Obama Administration. He’s arguing from a Democratic Party establishment vs. populist position under the guise the former is more of a return to normalcy against the latter.

It’s not hard to figure out Plouffe’s target. He’s quite concerned Mike Bloomberg, more than any other candidate, may fracture the ‘center lane’ on Super Tuesday, allowing Sanders a majority of delegates.

“Biden is going to be, I think, really harmed on Tuesday because Bloomberg is going to take votes and delegates,” Plouffe also said on MSNBC noting Sanders will likely lead the delegate count after Super Tuesday. “Not all of that would have gone to Biden, but I think it’s fair to say a lot of them would.”

Bloomberg’s role in the Democratic race is both interesting and mercurial. He did not appear on the ballot, despite showing up at last week’s South Carolina debate. An appearance most everyone thought was abysmal. Bloomberg’s hammering Super Tuesday states with campaign ad after campaign ad plus rally after rally. He’ll air a three-minute response to President Donald Trump’s coronavirus plan on Sunday night.

The concern regarding Bloomberg’s Super Tuesday strategy is understandable. His poll numbers hang around the teens despite a higher unlikability rating compared to other candidates. Plouffe is correct in guessing the numbers would likely filter to more establishment candidates like Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, and Biden. There’s a direct link to Biden’s poll plunge in Texas and the rise of Bloomberg. Buttigieg is also rising in the Texas polls, although not at a rate which puts him anywhere near the top or even the double digits.

One still has to wonder whether Bloomberg’s long game is a potential contested convention. It’s a risky strategy given the rather static results of the early primary states. The only real surprise was Buttigieg’s performance in Iowa and New Hampshire. He won zero delegates in South Carolina, at the moment, and isn’t doing well in other states. Yet it may not be enough to get Buttigieg out until after Super Tuesday.

There is enough of a so-called ‘center lane’ vote to push Sanders back to the fringes if the polls are to be believed. The problem is no one, outside of Tom Steyer, is willing to leave the race. A 57-delegate lead for Biden and Sanders is far from insurmountable. Super Tuesday will likely garner several dropouts from the center lane, but may not be enough to put Biden in the lead for those votes. Morning Consult noted the Bloomberg supporters are the only group that sees Biden as their ‘second choice.’ Biden supporters typically have Sanders as their second choice, although Bloomberg is within four-percentage points.

We may see a repeat of 2016 where everyone expects Sanders’ bubble to burst but he rides it to November. The voter anger is palpable especially towards the so-called establishment of the Democrat Party. The rage, understandably, never quelled after the 2016 shenanigans involving Hillary Clinton. It may never die regardless of who comes out on top.

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Biden’s Finally Raising Money After South Carolina. It’s Too Late to Help For Super Tuesday.

LOS ANGELES — Joe Biden finally got his big win. The question is whether it came too late — or just in time.

Biden’s South Carolina romp helped him nearly catch Bernie Sanders in the delegate count, and gives him a badly needed momentum and fundraising boost heading into Super Tuesday after three straight losses. But he has been lapped by both Bernie Sanders and Michael Bloomberg on the airwaves in the 14 states that will vote on Tuesday, lacks Sanders’ ground game and even with a major post-South Carolina donations windfall has far fewer resources than either of his main opponents at this point.

Heading into Super Tuesday, by far the most crucial election night of the 2020 primaries, the fate of the Democratic nomination may come down to whether Biden’s momentum can overcome Bloomberg’s money to win the more moderate voters key to cementing his comeback.

“The big victory tonight definitely gives momentum to Joe Biden — but the window to take that momentum on the road before Super Tuesday is narrow,” said Democratic strategist Jesse Ferguson, who worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 race. “The big Mo only matters if people know you’ve got the Mo.”

READ: Joe Biden just crushed Bernie Sanders in South Carolina

The 14 states that head to the polls on Tuesday combine for more than one third of the total delegates up for grabs in the 2020 Democratic primary process. That includes California, which alone accounts for roughly 10% of delegates, as well as states with big delegate troves including Texas, North Carolina, Virginia, and Massachusetts.

The big ‘mo’

Momentum, or at least the self-fulfilling effect of reporters declaring momentum for candidates and polls and donors reacting to good or bad media cycles, also might matter much less going forward.

The first four states show that demographic differences played huge roles in how each state voted. In both the 2008 and 2016 Democratic primaries, the demographic voting patterns seen in early states more or less held throughout the campaign. Sanders’ voters aren’t going anywhere. But whether Biden bests Bloomberg on Super Tuesday could well determine who is strong enough to slog forward against Sanders.

Biden’s early state struggles compounded his weak fundraising, leaving his cash-strapped campaign able to commit only a six-figure sum on ad spending for Super Tuesday states. Compare that to Sanders, who’s spending close to $20 million on Super Tuesday ads, or Bloomberg, who’s already topped a half-billion dollars (that’s right, with a B) spent on ads so far, most of that on advertising across Super Tuesday.

His super PAC has spent about $1.5 million in ads. Sanders’ campaign announced Sunday morning that it had raised a whopping $46.5 million in February alone — almost double what they brought in in January. Biden’s campaign hasn’t released that figure yet, but raised $8.9 million in January and had just $9 million left in the bank as of the beginning of February.

READ: Here’s Tom Steyer twerking with Juvenile because 2020 hasn’t been weird enough

Biden’s fundraising numbers will undoubtedly spike after South Carolina — he said Sunday morning that he’d raised $5 million in the last 24 hours, his campaign’s best fundraising stretch. But that money didn’t come soon enough to be used on Super Tuesday.

“It is basically impossible for us to get up and get enough on TV to make a difference.”

“It is basically impossible for us to get up and get enough on TV to make a difference. So we are also actively planning for our March 10th and March 17th state budgets,” said Steve Schale, who’s helping run Biden’s super PAC.

Biden and Bloomberg are largely chasing the same voters: More moderate white voters, Hispanics and especially African Americans, who drove Biden’s big South Carolina win. Tuesday’s elections will have a number of minority-heavy states voting, making the election day arguably the best chance for both candidates to rack up delegates.

Facing Bloomberg’s money

Bloomberg’s humongous ad campaign could help him win major troves of voters that otherwise would have gone to Biden, and the ongoing if weakened campaigns of Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar could pull from Biden as well. That not only makes it harder for Biden to win delegates, but since candidates have to hit 15% of the vote to win statewide delegates, he could be at risk of getting shut out in some states. Bloomberg’s campaign has most heavily targeted the same southern states Biden is relying on for his best performances: Texas, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Alabama.

Bloomberg has plateaued and even lost some ground in polling since his disastrous debate performance in Nevada ten days ago and a better but hardly stellar debate in South Carolina last Wednesday. But it’s unclear how much voters will have heard about South Carolina by Super Tuesday — especially the type of low-information voters who have been especially receptive to Bloomberg’s ad deluge.

But as the early states proved, money alone can’t buy you love. Billionaire Tom Steyer spent over $200 million on ads, including $20 million in South Carolina alone. But he dropped out of the race Saturday night after finishing a distant third in the state. Biden spent less than $1 million on ads in the state for his dominant victory.

Early voting also complicates the picture. More than 3.2 million people including more than 1.5 million Democrats had cast their ballots in California, by far Super Tuesday’s biggest prize, before South Carolina voters even headed to the polls. Many more voters already cast ballots in North Carolina and Texas.

READ: Elizabeth Warren is an a very awkward fight with her own super PAC

But in many states there has been both anecdotal and limited data evidence that moderate voters worried about Sanders winning the nomination are holding their ballots, waiting to see whether Biden, Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg or Amy Klobuchar stood the best chance of winning the nomination.

For Sanders, another question looms. His two strongest performances so far came in Iowa and Nevada, two caucus states (he won neighboring New Hampshire but underperformed his 2016 numbers by a lot more than he has in other states). He did much better in caucuses than primaries in the 2016 elections, but most states eliminated the caucus process for this election. Polling indicates otherwise, but there’s a chance that his organizing-heavy campaign structure and the outsized excitement of his supporters might mean he won’t do as well in primaries going forward.

It’s unclear how the next three days will play out. But Biden is back off the mat. And if he can capitalize on his momentum, crest past Bloomberg and win a serious haul of delegates on Tuesday, that could set up a long race were he and Sanders fight for every delegate.

“I think he has an excellent chance now,” said California-based Democratic strategist Ace Smith, who was a top adviser on Kamala Harris’s presidential race.

Cover: Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden celebrates with his supporters after declaring victory at an election-night rally at the University of South Carolina Volleyball Center on February 29, 2020 in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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Warren at risk of losing her home state

After disappointing results in the first three contests — Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada — Warren has been managing expectations about how she will perform at home on Tuesday.

“Look, I’m out here making my case to everybody all across the nation and I’m so deeply grateful to the people in my home state who helped me beat an incumbent Republican back in 2012,” Warren said, when asked if she could guarantee she’ll win her home state during an interview with CBS News after this week’s Democratic debate.

When pressed for an answer about winning Massachusetts, she did not say yes.

It’s not clear whether Warren will campaign in Massachusetts in the run-up to the primary. But her campaign recently released a list of 147 endorsements from local elected officials, and has held dozens of events in recent weeks with Massachusetts surrogates including Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu, and other city councilors and state lawmakers.

Warren also received an endorsement from the Boston Globe editorial board earlier this week — the very hometown paper which had urged her in 2018 not to run for president.

But on Thursday, Sanders received the endorsement of the Daily Hampshire Gazette, a small paper in Western Massachusetts that backed him in 2016. Warren won Northampton, where the Gazette is located, by a landslide in her 2018 reelection bid with 86 percent of the vote. It was one of her best performances in the state, behind the Boston-area cities of Cambridge, where she got 90 percent of the vote, and Somerville, where she received 87 percent.

Sensing an opportunity to deal a serious blow here to his top progressive rival, Sanders has events planned across the state in the final days before the primary, starting with the Worcester festival his campaign has taken to calling “Berniepalooza.” He will hold a rally in Springfield on Friday, the largest city in Western Massachusetts, followed by a rally on the Boston Common on Saturday.

Sanders carried the western part of the state in the 2016 primary, but lost to Hillary Clinton in Boston and many of its surrounding suburbs. Clinton won narrowly statewide, 51%-49%, to win 46 of the state’s 91 delegates.

“The purpose of doing this is for the press and generating excitement. They’re not convincing any more voters at this stage of the game,” said a former Sanders staffer who worked on his Massachusetts campaign in 2016. “This is a way to stay in two media markets all weekend long.”

Earlier this week, Sanders released a new television ad in the state that features President John F. Kennedy’s famous speech about the moon landing. It’s an indirect dig at Warren, who occupies the Senate seat previously held by JFK and his brother, the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. She also counts Rep. Joe Kennedy III as a surrogate, who campaigned for her in Cambridge several days ago.

And Sanders sought to drum up some goodwill among Boston activists on Thursday evening, tweeting in support of more affordable housing “instead of more gentrifying luxury developments for the few” in East Boston, where the city is considering plans to redevelop the site of a former racetrack.

Still, nothing telegraphs Sanders’ strategy like the four-day festival planned for central Massachusetts, a clear play to drum up support among his strongest demographic — young voters. An event page for the “first of its kind” festival boasts that it is so popular that the campaign can’t provide accommodations for all the volunteers.

“WE ARE FRESH OUT OF SUPPORTER HOUSING – at this point you’ll have to make your own accommodations!” the page says.

The Worcester festival is located in a city experiencing a development boom that includes importing a minor league baseball team, and an influx of breweries, artisanal bakeries and speakeasy-style bars in the city’s suburbs. That has attracted young people and families who tend to be more liberal, said state Rep. Jim O’Day who represents the area, and even the once-reliably red surrounding county is becoming more purple.

“If you look at where a lot of the newer folks moving into the area are coming from, you’d see they are emanating from the Boston area. The progressiveness of Boston, I think a little bit, is actually spreading out towards the western parts of the state,” O’Day said. “Worcester is a strong Democratic city with lots of activism going on there.”

Worcester also has a lot of young people — the city contains nine colleges and universities, which serve around 36,000 students. The city is around 69 percent white, but it has a growing Latino population. Around 21 percent of city residents are Hispanic or Latino, according to census data, and 13 percent of Worcester residents are black. In the Worcester public school system, a plurality of students are Latino.

“There’s certainly a core group of folks in Worcester that are working hard for him,” said O’Day, who has not endorsed a candidate.

Despite Sanders’ efforts on Warren’s home turf, Charlie Baker, a political strategist at Dewey Square Group in Boston, dismissed the prospect of Sanders sweeping Massachusetts. Baker supports Warren, but is not working for the campaign.

“I assume she will win Massachusetts, but the way you win the presidential nomination is you get more delegates, you get a majority of the delegates. So they’re running a campaign based on the idea of trying to get more delegates, which makes sense to me,” Baker said. “She’s got a reservoir full of support and I think that unless something strange happens, you know, she could win.”

Even if Sanders defeats Warren by a small margin, Baker said, the Massachusetts primary won’t have much bearing on Warren’s delegate math heading toward the convention.

Baker points to 2016, when Sanders lost Massachusetts by a small margin and only took one fewer delegate than Clinton.

“At the end of the day, if this is about delegates, it probably won’t matter,” Baker said. “If he gets 22 percent and she gets 21 percent, it’s the same answer.”

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Biden’s South Carolina victory positions him to win the South on Super Tuesday

Former Vice President Joe Biden trounced his competition in South Carolina’s Democratic presidential primary on Saturday, beating national frontrunner Sen. Bernie Sanders by nearly 30 percentage points and the rest of the field by around 40 percentage points, or more.

The victory, which marked Biden’s first win of the primary season, gave new life to his struggling campaign. And it was a result that suggests he may be poised to perform well in a number of states with similar demographics on Super Tuesday — when a third of the primary’s delegates are up for grabs.

Historically speaking, South Carolina is an important bellwether state in presidential primaries, because it is typically a strong predictor of how other southern states with large African American populations like Alabama and Louisiana will vote. Biden won South Carolina in large part because he won 61 percent of the black vote there, and has long said he sees black voters are the foundation of his base of support.

While the race is still unfolding, there is some evidence beyond South Carolina’s results to suggest that claim is true — Biden performed strongly among black voters in Nevada, who helped him to his second place finish there, and is polling well in other states in which black voters make up a large share of the electorate.

If Biden sweeps the South by a large margin on Tuesday, it could revive what was increasingly looking like a quixotic bid for the White House, and once again make him the most viable moderate contender for the nomination.

But Super Tuesday could also deal him — and every other candidate in the race — a nearly lethal blow: Should Sanders dominate the contests that day, especially in California and Texas, the delegates the senator would receive from those victories could eclipse any strong performance that Biden puts up in the South.

What South Carolina tells us about contests to come

Biden’s victory in South Carolina helped put an end to a streak of underwhelming performances. It wasn’t just his first primary win in 2020 — it was the first primary he’s won in three bids for the White House over the course of his political career.

But the real reason that South Carolina matters is what it says about the future: it often provides foreshadowing of how Democrats in the South (especially black Democrats) are thinking about presidential candidates. As Vox’s Li Zhou explains, the state reflects, and likely influences, voter decision-making throughout the region:

Historically, at least four Southern states — Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, and Mississippi — have voted for the same Democratic nominee as South Carolina, giving this candidate a windfall of delegates. Democratic strategist Antjuan Seawright attributes this trend to the fact that many of these states have similar demographics as South Carolina’s electorate, which in addition to being majority African American is also majority women.

“Right after South Carolina, a lot of Southern states with similar demographics hold contests,” says Gibbs Knotts, a College of Charleston political science professor and author of First in the South, a book dedicated to examining the role of the state’s primary.

This cycle, in particular, given the size of the Democratic field, the state is poised to help with the winnowing process and clearly indicate who will perform well in diverse states.

“If you cannot pick up black support in South Carolina, how the hell are you going to get it three days later elsewhere?” says [Democratic strategist Clay] Middleton.

Biden’s odds of performing strongly in the South are high. According to FiveThirtyEight’s polling models, Biden is favored to win every Southern state on Super Tuesday except Texas.

The chief driver of that is Biden’s strength among black voters. National polls show Sanders neck-and-neck with Biden among black voters, but in terms of voter turnout so far, Biden has the edge.

For instance, Biden beat Sanders among black voters in the Nevada caucuses — who made up 11 percent of the electorate — by 10 percentage points. And in South Carolina, Biden received 61 percent of the black vote, while Sanders won just 16 percent.

If Biden continues to do well in states that have similar political and demographic landscapes to South Carolina, he could give his campaign a significant boost by locking down the South.

The South will help Biden, but won’t secure the nomination for him

On Super Tuesday, six southern states will be headed to the polls, and Biden is leading in the polls in almost all of them. In Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and Arkansas, Biden is the frontrunner. Combined, those states have 356 pledged delegates up for grabs.

But it’s important to remember Democratic primaries are not winner-take-all; should Biden win all of those states, he will have to split those delegates with any and all other candidates who receive more than 15 percent of the vote.

And Biden will face another big problem, even if he receives the majority of those 356 delegates: the combined delegate total of California and Texas. Sanders is leading in both those states, and they have 643 pledged delegates between them — almost double the amount of the southern states where Biden leads.

And that’s to say nothing of the delegates on offer in the other Super Tuesday states in which Sanders — or some other Biden rival — leads, including some states with very respectable delegate offerings like Massachusetts (91 delegates) and Colorado (67 delegates).

In other words, Biden’s strategy of winning the South may not advance his candidacy in and of itself. To remain a viable candidate, he will also need to do well enough in states Sanders currently leads to receive delegates. And even if the former vice president does so, if Sanders has a dominant performance on Tuesday, he could build up an insurmountable lead in the delegates, making it impossible for any candidate to catch up to him in the delegate count.

However if Sanders underperforms his polling, and if Biden does well, there is a chance for the former vice president to emerge as the main opposition to the Sanders insurgency — or at least to wound Sanders’s campaign enough that the senator falls short of a delegate majority before the Democratic National Convention in July.

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Super Tuesday polls: Bernie’s edge, Biden’s bounce and Bloomberg’s debut

And one thing the polls will almost certainly struggle to measure: any bounce Joe Biden will get out of his runaway victory in South Carolina on Saturday.

Here are five takeaways from the weekend’s Super Tuesday polls:

Sanders leads in California, but others could hit the delegate threshold.

A CBS News Battleground Tracker/YouGov poll out Sunday morning shows Sanders with a significant advantage in the largest delegate prize on Super Tuesday. The Vermont independent senator is at 31 percent in the survey — ahead of Joe Biden at 19 percent, Elizabeth Warren at 18 percent and Mike Bloomberg at 12 percent.

That’s not quite as large a lead as a CNN/SSRS poll on Friday that showed Sanders at 34 percent, with Warren in second place at 14 percent.

The distinctions here are important: Only candidates who break 15 percent will win a proportional share of statewide delegates. If Sanders were the only candidate over 15 percent, he would win all the statewide delegates, even if he captured only about a third of the vote.

But with two or three other candidates potentially joining Sanders above the 15 percent threshold, it would split the delegate haul. CBS News estimates that under the scenario portrayed by its poll — with Biden and Warren also meeting the threshold — Sanders would win a little less than half the delegates available.

Is Bernie going to win Texas, too?

According to four polls released over the past 48 hours, Sanders enters as the favorite in Texas, the second-largest state voting on Tuesday. But the race appears closer than in California, and Sanders’ lead is far from assured.

Sanders has a wide lead in an NBC News/Marist poll: 15 points over Biden, 34 percent to 19 percent. Bloomberg is third, at an all-important 15 percent.

But a CBS News Battleground Tracker/YouGov poll shows a much closer contest: Sanders leads Biden by just 4 points, 30 percent to 26 percent. Bloomberg is within striking distance of the statewide delegate threshold, at 13 percent.

And a Dallas Morning News/University of Texas-Tyler poll shows Bloomberg in a stronger position: Sanders leads Bloomberg by 8 points, 29 percent to 21 percent, with Biden close behind at 19 percent.

Southern states look like the Super Tuesday battlegrounds.

Which states are truly up for grabs on Tuesday? The ones that look — at least a little — like South Carolina.

Alabama has a large share of African-American voters, and Biden, who won roughly 60 percent of the black vote in South Carolina on Saturday, will be the favorite there.

But in other Southern states that have significant — but smaller — black populations, the race looks like a jump ball. An NBC News/Marist poll in North Carolina shows Sanders (26 percent) and Biden (24 percent) essentially tied there, with Bloomberg in third at 15 percent.

Then there’s Virginia, where a Christopher Newport University poll released on Friday shows Biden (22 percent) slightly ahead of Sanders (17 percent) and Bloomberg (13 percent).

There isn’t as much recent polling in states like Arkansas, Oklahoma and Tennessee — but the demographic profiles of those states suggest that similarly close contests are likely.

Can Warren hold off Sanders in Massachusetts?

A Boston Globe/WBZ-TV/Suffolk University poll released Saturday shows the two liberals running neck-and-neck in Warren’s home state. Sanders (24 percent) and Warren (22 percent) are well ahead of the second-tier candidates in Massachusetts: Bloomberg (13 percent), Pete Buttigieg (12 percent) and Biden (11 percent).

The situation is similar for Amy Klobuchar, who is trying to win her home state of Minnesota but isn’t registering in polls elsewhere. The most recent poll in Minnesota, from the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Mason-Dixon, is a week old, but it showed Klobuchar holding off Sanders, 29 percent to 23 percent.

Don’t look for signs of a Biden bounce in the polls.

We’ll probably need to wait until Tuesday night to see whether Biden’s strong performance in South Carolina gives him momentum. All of the polls cited in this article were conducted before Saturday’s first-in-the-South primary.

Biden is trying to capitalize on South Carolina, and his campaign has a plan to propel his underfunded campaign in places where they are outflanked by Sanders and Bloomberg, in particular.

There are limits to what a Biden surge can look like in some of these states, however — especially those with robust early voting before the South Carolina primary. In California, the majority of voters mail in their ballots ahead of Election Day. In Texas, 1 million people had already voted early in person through Saturday. In North Carolina, 792,000 voters have already cast their ballots.

Still, there are some signs Democrats have been holding back their ballots to see how the race would play out. In California, political consultant Paul Mitchell told POLITICO he’d seen a significant drop-off in ballots returned among regular primary voters, suggesting they are waiting until the last minute. And in Texas, the early turnout in the GOP primary (1.1 million) is thus far outpacing the Democratic contest, despite no competitive race at the top of the Republican ticket.

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Democrats Biden, Sanders brawl as U.S. Super Tuesday contests loom

SELMA, Ala. (Reuters) – Joe Biden, fresh off his first victory in the 2020 Democratic U.S. presidential race, traded barbs with front-runner Bernie Sanders on Sunday before the Super Tuesday contests that could reshape the campaign to pick the party’s challenger to Republican President Donald Trump.

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden takes photos with supporters at his South Carolina primary night rally in Columbia, South Carolina, U.S., February 29, 2020. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz

Strong support from African-American voters carried Biden to a resounding victory Saturday in South Carolina’s nominating contest, leading the former vice president to assert himself as a viable moderate alternative to self-described democratic socialist Sanders, an independent U.S. senator from Vermont.

Sanders’ surging campaign and calls for a political revolution have rattled a Democratic Party establishment worried that he is too far to the left to beat Trump in the Nov. 3 U.S. election. Strong performances by Sanders in the first three contests in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada catapulted him to front-runner status.

On Sunday, Biden and Sanders portrayed themselves as the only candidate who could attract liberals, moderates and independents to defeat Trump.

“I think the Democratic Party is looking for a Democrat – not a socialist, not a former Republican, a Democrat – to be their nominee and to bring the country together in a way that I’ve been able to do my whole career,” Biden told the “Fox News Sunday” program.

Biden’s reference to a former Republican appears to have been aimed at billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg, the former New York mayor who skipped the first four state contests but has blanketed the nation with half a billion dollars in advertising.

Sanders countered that he has been voting with Democrats for 30 years in Congress and said his small-donor campaign draws support from members of all parties, including Republicans.

He attacked Biden for taking contributions from political organizations called Super PACs and billionaires, courting wealthy donors at what he said was the expense of working-class, middle-class and low-income people.

“I don’t go to rich people’s homes like Joe Biden,” Sanders said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Biden is among the Democratic contenders set to help mark the 55th anniversary of a landmark civil rights march Sunday in Alabama, one of 14 states holding contests on Tuesday in the race to pick a challenger to face Trump on Nov. 3.

Biden, Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar will commemorate the anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” when civil rights marchers were beaten by state troopers and local police while crossing a bridge in Selma.

The South Carolina win resurrected Biden’s struggling campaign in the state-by-state battle for the Democratic nomination, but he lags Sanders in fundraising and organization in Super Tuesday states and beyond.

Biden called the nomination battle a “marathon” and said he was in for the long haul.

“Super Tuesday’s not the end, it’s only the beginning,” Biden said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Sanders planned to campaign on Sunday in heavily Democratic California, the biggest prize on Super Tuesday. Sanders leads opinion polls in California, where 3 million early votes have already been cast.

Biden won overwhelmingly in South Carolina, drawing 48% of the votes cast compared to 20 percent for Sanders. Edison Research exit polls showed Biden with 61% of African-American support there to Sanders’ 17%. After a third-place finish in South Carolina, billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer exited the race.

BIG BUCKS

Biden reported raising $5 million in the past 24 hours and his campaign on Sunday added to a growing number of endorsements from establishment Democrats, including U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a former Democratic National Committee chairwoman.

Biden got another boost before the march with the endorsement of Selma’s mayor, Darrio Melton.

Sanders leads in the overall national delegate count with 56 and Biden is second with 51, with another seven South Carolina delegates yet to be allocated. A candidate will need at least 1,991 delegates to win the nomination outright at the party’s convention in July.

The Sanders campaign quickly tried to get back the momentum after South Carolina, announcing it had raised $46.5 million from more than 2.2 million donations in February, a huge sum that dwarfed what any other Democratic candidate had raised last year in any three-month period.

Biden’s February haul was $18 million. Warren, who struggled to a fifth-place finish in South Carolina, raised more than $29 million in February.

The Sanders campaign announced a new wave of television advertisements in nine states that will hold primary contests on March 10 and March 17.

Slideshow (4 Images)

Following his South Carolina victory, Biden was endorsed by Terry McAuliffe, a former Virginia governor and former Democratic National Committee chairman, and Bobby Scott, an influential African-American U.S. congressman from Virginia.

At least five states – Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas and Virginia – have big blocs of African-American voters that could help Biden.

Bloomberg, meanwhile, continues to spend. He purchased three minutes of commercial air time during on broadcast networks CBS and NBC on Sunday evening to address the coronavirus outbreak.

Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Will Dunham

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What Does SC Mean for Biden? Not Much

Op-Ed

While Biden overwhelmed Sanders and the others in South Carolina, he still does not have much of a path to the nomination.

He will likely get massacred on Super Tuesday, particularly in California where he currently polls in third place at 11 percent behind Sanders and Warren.

He’ll probably lose Texas, Virginia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and most of the other states. Only in North Carolina is he ahead in the latest polls.

After Super Tuesday, Sanders will have an overwhelming lead in the delegate count.

Democrats who are trying to stop him are clinging to the hope that Buttigieg, Warren, Bloomberg, Steyer and Klobuchar drop out of the race, and that their supporters flock to Joe Biden, giving him a shot at getting a majority at the convention.

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Fat chance.

In the national Fox News poll of Feb. 23, Democratic primary voters were asked who their second choice would be.

And guess which candidate won the most second choice votes?

Bernie Sanders who won 19 percent of the second choice votes compared to Biden’s 17 percent.

Do you think Joe Biden still has any chance in this race?

Certainly Warren’s vote will go to Bernie. Perhaps Biden could get most of Buttigieg’s and Klobuchar’s small vote totals.

But Bloomberg’s voters are largely gullible TV watchers who know little or nothing about politics and likely care less.

He has no organization and, if he dropped out, his voters would likely just stay home and watch more television.

And who says Buttigieg, et al., will drop out?

Covetous of their 15 minutes of fame, they’ll probably keep at it.

RELATED: Dick Morris: Sanders, Biden Grow in Super Tuesday States

And, even if they do drop out and endorse Biden, it will likely be a mathematical impossibility that they could swing the race to Biden.

So it sure looks like Trump vs. Sanders in the fall.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website.

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

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14 Best Sci-Fi Movies of 2020

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2020 is already off to a wild start. Donald Trump was impeached in the U.S. House of Representatives late last year, only to be acquitted in early February. Nancy Peolsi ripped up her copy of Trump’s State of the Union speech, and Bong Joon Ho made his Oscars (as in the multiple trophies he won) kiss. That’s all to say: Life is already moving at a breakneck pace this year, and while some of it is not worth missing (that Pelosi moment was pretty epic, and two Oscars kissing like adorable gay Barbies was great), escapist movies are always necessary.

Because there aren’t enough rom-coms or episodes of The Bachelor in the world available to provide an escape from the craziness of the world, there is another genre entirely to help calm the reality blues: Science fiction. Alien invasions and monsters might not calm some people, but for others, these plots can sometimes seem so ridiculous that they can’t possibly line up with reality.

But when John Krasinski makes a movie about terrifying creatures that can pick up on any kind of acute sound, audiences love it so much that he makes a sequel. That is how science fiction fandom works—we are so terrified of the unreal that we want more. We want movies about people whose occupation it is to wipe out paranormal activity with giant machines on their backs. We want mutant teens. That’s why we’ve rounded up the best science fiction movies coming in 2020—so take a deep breath, and escape.

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The Invisible Man

2020’s The Invisible Man is the latest big-screen adaptation of the H.G. Wells book of the same name. In this take on the horror classic, Cecila Kass (Elisabeth Moss) is trapped in a controlling relationship with a wealthy scientist. She escapes in the middle of the night with the help of her sister (Harriet Dyer), their childhood friend (Aldis Hodge), and his daughter (Storm Reid). But she soon finds out her ex has been following her around through some inventive means.

Bloodshot (March 13)

After he and his wife are murdered, Marine Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel) is brought back to life by a team of scientists. When he remembers the man who killed him and his wife, Ray breaks out of the facility where the scientists are keeping him to seek revenge.

A Quiet Place Part II (March 20)

The world of John Krasinski’s popular 2018 horror film, A Quiet Place, is back in the form of a sequel, where we find the Abbott family facing new terrors and evils in a post-apocalyptic world.

The New Mutants (April 3)

In the newest X-Men (or, at least X-Men-adjacent) big-screen installment, five teenage mutants are held in a facility against their will—and they work together to save themselves.

Artemis Fowl (May 29)

Based on the best-selling, all-timer of a YA book series by Irish writer Eoin Colfer, the big-screen adaptation will bring the story of a 12-year-old criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl II to life.

The Six Billion Dollar Man (June 5)

Here’s a throwback: The Six Billion Dollar Man will return to pop culture this summer. If you need a reminder, the original ’70s show saw military officer Steve Austin becomes part of a secret government program after a near-death accident. Here’s the twist: Austin is brought back to life as a bionic man.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife (July 10)

Who you gonna call? Mckenna Grace, Annie Potts, and Bill Murray star in this next installment in the Ghostbusters franchise, which follows a single mom who moves to a new town with her kids. Then, you guessed it, they begin to discover their familial connection to the original Ghostbusters.

Tenet (July 17)

This Christopher Nolan-directed movie is about a secret agent who is tasked with preventing a threat that could start World War III with what looks to be (at least from Tenet‘s first trailer) time travel. No biggie. John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, Michael Caine, and Kenneth Branagh star in Nolan’s first film since 2017’s Dunkirk.

Bill & Ted Face the Music (August 22)

Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter return for a third (and yes, most excellent) adventure as middle-aged rockers who are told by a visitor from the future that one of their songs can save the world and change the future. Nothing like a message like that to give a dad with rockstar aspirations a confidence boost.

Monster Hunter (September 4)

Paul W.S. Anderson’s new thriller—which is based on the video game of the same name—follows Captain Artemis (Milla Jovovich) and her soldiers as they are transported to a new world with dangerous enemies. She teams up with a stranger (Tony Jaa) to fight back.

BIOS (October 2)

In BIOS, Tom Hanks stars in a post-apocalyptic adventure about the last man on earth, who builds an android to keep him and his dog company as they travel across the world.

The Eternals (November 6)

Over the past 10-plus years, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has given us a ton of origin stories for its superheroes. Now, the MCU will give us an origin story for the MCU. Meet the Eternals, an immortal alien race who have secretly existed for more than 7,000 years, fight to save the world from their enemies, the Deviants.

Godzilla vs. Kong (November 20)

It’s been about six years since the Godzilla reboot teased the full-blown, big-budget MonsterVerse. Now, here’s the payoff: The two big boys, Godzilla and Kong, going at it in an attempt to win all of your money.

Dune (December 18)

At the end of the year, the legendary Frank Herbert novel will return to the big screen. The book is notoriously massive and complicated, but here’s a try at a quick plot description: In the distant future, Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) leads nomadic tribes in a battle to control the planet Arrakis, of which Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac) has stewardship.

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Coronavirus Briefing Becomes Raucous Democratic Debate on SNL: WATCH

A coronavirus news conference led by Beck Bennett’s Mike Pence turned into a Democratic debate on SNL’s cold open as candidates showed up to weigh in.

Said Bennett’s Pence: “President Trump has put me in charge of the coronavirus even though I don’t believe in ‘science.’ I have to admit, this disease has been quite the test of my faith — just like dinosaur bones or Timothee Chalamet.”

Bennett’s Pence then introduced Kenan Thompson’s Ben Carson, who attempted to reassure the public that things were under control.

Said Thompson’s Carson: “It’s going to be bad. Here’s what we know so far. He looks like this (showing a picture of Stitch from Lilo & Stitch) He’s a nasty little thing, he’ll bite you.”

Bennett’s Pence then took questions, prompting Mike Bloomberg (Fred Armisen) to rise from the audience.

Said Armisen’s Bloomberg: “Doesn’t it seem like a good time to have a president that’s competent and capable, even if that candidate lacks charisma or ability to connect with human beings?”

Armisen’s Bloomberg approached the podium to make himself more clear, but was intercepted by Kate McKinnon’s Elizabeth Warren.

Said McKinnon’s Warren: “Did you really think you were going to get away from me that easy? This is my job now. I follow you around and make your life a living hell. I might be fifth in the polls, but I’m No. 1 in your nightmares.”

McKinnon’s Warren heralded an array of other candidates coming forward to offer their opinions on the virus.

Said John Mulaney’s Joe Biden: “Guess who just kicked butt in South Cracker Barrel? Now, listen, folks, if we want to fight ‘China cough’ we got to be smart. We got to make sure to get new teeth daily.”

Added Larry David’s Bernie Sanders: “You got to admit, folks, universal healthcare doesn’t sound too crazy now, does it? Hey, I’m having the best week of my freaking life. I had a little setback in South Carolina but I’m ahead in the other polls, Wall Street billionaires are losing their shirts and best of all, nobody wants to come near me, much less touch me, I’m in heaven!”

Colin Jost’s Pete Buttigieg stood up and declared: “I’m actually Mayor Pete Buttigieg. I’m a candidate too, for the next three days.”

“Back off Buttigieg,” interrupted Rachel Dratch’s Amy Klobuchar, “The whole moderate from the Midwest schtick is mine. So stay out of my center lane, bitch. I’m from Minnesota so I will cut you, in line at Target, son.”

After McKinnon’s Warren urged people to use Purell, David’s Sanders interjected: “No, no, no, no, no! No Purell. I got a bottle of that junk and on the label it said, ‘it kills 99.99% of germs. What happens to the top .01%?! Why are we protecting them?”