Voters in 14 states are weighing in on the Democratic primary race on Tuesday, March 3, commonly known as “Super Tuesday.” Early results showed Joe Biden was having a big night, winning Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee as the first polls closed. Bernie Sanders has won Vermont, his home state, so far this evening. American Samoa also held its caucuses (Bloomberg won his first delegates here). More than 1,300 delegates are up for grabs — over 30% of all the pledged delegates available — making it one of the most important days of the primary season. Only 155 delegates are awarded in the first four voting contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.
There are five Democratic candidates left in the race: Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Mike Bloomberg and Tulsi Gabbard. Sanders is the front-runner in the race so far, having won the popular vote in Iowa and then decisive victories in New Hampshire and Nevada. But Biden pulled out a big victory in South Carolina, winning nearly 50% of the vote, and on the eve of Super Tuesday, he received the endorsement of three former opponents, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg and Beto O’Rourke, in a show of unity for moderates.
The delegate count going into Super Tuesday showed Sanders with 60 delegates, Biden with 54 delegates and Warren with 8 delegates. Pete Buttigieg had 26 delegates before dropping out Sunday, and Amy Klobuchar, who dropped out Monday, had 7. Polls began closing at 7 p.m. and will continue until 11 p.m. ET, when polls close in California.
CBSNews.com will be posting LIVE UPDATES with the latest reporting on Super Tuesday throughout the night HERE.
*CBSNews.com writers Grace Segers, Kathryn Watson, Caroline Linton, Stefan Becket & Melissa Quinn contributed to this report
FROM THE CANDIDATES
Elizabeth Warren usually pushes back on the idea of political lanes, but with a narrowing field on the eve of Super Tuesday, CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak says she was making the case that she’s the compromise candidate in the Democratic Party. “We find ourselves barreling toward another primary along the same lanes as 2016: one for an insider, one for an outsider,” she said Monday night in Monterey Park, California. “Democratic voters should have more choice than that.” The Massachusetts senator made a reference to the endorsements Biden received Tuesday, though she didn’t identify the former opponents who announced their support of him earlier that evening, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Beto O’Rourke.
“No matter how many Washington insiders tell you to support him, nominating their fellow Washington insider will not meet this moment,” she argued. “Nominating a man who says we do not need any fundamental change in this country will not meet this moment.”
In an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon Monday, Warren said of her former opponents’ endorsement of Biden, “I think that they see the world in many ways the same way that the vice president does. So I understand that. I think it makes some sense.” Noting that “the field has now narrowed sharply,” with the moderates aligned on one side, Warren argued that their policies are not the ones the country wants. “I think that what we’ve seen so far is that the Democratic Party is a progressive party,” she told Lemon. “Progressive ideas are popular.”
Bernie Sanders, who is the front-runner, has been the standard bearer for progressive policies like Medicare for All and free college. Without naming him, Warren raised doubts about his ability to enact these initiatives and sought to argue that she can, that she is the clear candidate for Americans who want a progressive agenda that can actually be enacted. “We need someone who’s going to get those progressive ideas done,” she said. “And that’s the reason I’m in this race.” She also criticized Sanders for his approach to paying for Medicare for All, estimated to cost around $30 trillion. “Bernie thinks that we should raise taxes on middle-class families to pay for health care. And I’ve shown that we don’t actually have to do that,” she said. “I think a much better way to do it is to raise taxes on the top one percent, to make giant corporations, like Amazon and Eli Lilly, that report billions of dollars in profits and pay nothing in taxes.”
During the Monterey Park rally, Warren again raised questions about how effective Bernie Sanders would be as president, though she did not name him. “It’s not enough to have big ideas. It takes a plan to turn those ideas into reality,” she said. “We need a nominee who has unshakeable values and who has a real track record for winning hard fights,” Warren said of her candidacy. Sanders’ supporters often accuse Warren of not having “unshakable values.” Just after Warren appeared on stage, three topless animal rights protesters stormed the stage and were escorted away by police. “I love Los Angeles,” Warren said, before launching into a speech about the power of protest.
ON THE $$$
A record amount of money is being spent on TV, radio and digital ads heading into Super Tuesday, according to CBS News political unit associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice. Just hours before some of the first polls closed in the 14 states holding contests, spending hit nearly $260 million by the candidates still in the race. Of that money, Bloomberg had contributed more than 90% with nearly $237 million spent in Super Tuesday states. Bernie Sanders spent just $18.4 million, while Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden spent just over $2 million apiece. Warren however, had the help of the Persist PAC which spent more than $11 million to her benefit in Super Tuesday states. Biden also has Super PAC help but it only contributed about half a million dollars for ads in the 14 states. Since Saturday night, three democratic presidential candidates exited the race, but not before spending as well in Super Tuesday states. Tom Steyer spent nearly $45 million, Pete Buttigieg spent nearly $2.5 million and Amy Klobuchar spent $4.8 million on ads in Super Tuesday states before calling it quits. Buttigieg and Klobuchar have each since endorsed Joe Biden for president.
IN THE HOUSE
The Texas 28th Democratic primary result could give a lot of clues about the strength of the progressive movement in Texas, no matter who wins says CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro. The challenger, Jessica Cisneros, headed into Tuesday with a fresh endorsement from EMILY’s list and over $2 million raised. She is the bonafide progressive candidate, with endorsements from Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. She’s trying to defeat blue dog Democrat Representative Henry Cuellar, a 15-year incumbent. And while she’s drawn comparisons to Ocasio-Cortez’s 2018 upset of Congressman Joe Crowley, this southwest Texas district is not too similar to the Bronx or Queens that Ocasio-Cortez represents. But Cisneros has tapped into issues, such as immigration and getting money out of politics, that have become prevalent in her district. “If enough women and young voters are activated, Cisneros will have the advantage,” a memo sent out by her campaign states. “We expect a strong showing in the Rio Grande Valley to be critical to Cisneros’ success tonight. If we win Laredo outright, it’s going to be an early night.” Another Texas representative being challenged, Kay Granger, recently got another Twitter endorsement from the president. But she’s facing big money from the side of her opponent, Christ Putman. According to the Dallas Morning News, $1.1 million has been spent by the Protect Freedom PAC in advertising against Granger.