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Wake Up To Politics - March 11, 2020

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP world headquarters in my bedroom. It’s Wednesday, March 11, 2020. 4 days until the next Democratic debate. 237 days until Election Day. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.

Biden continues march to nomination with four more victories

Former Vice President Joe Biden took another step toward claiming the Democratic presidential nomination on Tuesday, notching key victories in four primaries.

Biden won Michigan, the night's biggest prize (offering 125 delegates), by 16.4% of the vote; he also triumphed in Missouri (68 delegates) by 25.5%, Mississippi (36 delegates) by 66.1%,  and Idaho (20 delegates) by 6.4%.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is currently leading in Washington (89 delegates) by 0.2% of the vote (with 67% of precincts reporting), and North Dakota (14 delegates) by 6.1% (with 78% reporting), although no victor has been declared in either state.

Just as on Super Tuesday, Biden's victories were fueled by his dominance with a wide cross-section of citizens: according to exit polls, he won among white voters and black voters, as well as men and women, in Michigan, Mississippi, and Missouri. He is also currently leading in all 279 counties across the three states, including urban, suburban, and rural areas.

Sanders, meanwhile, repeatedly underperformed his record from the 2016 Democratic primaries, even trailing Biden among white working-class voters, a key demographic behind his successes four years ago. While each of the states featured a severe division by age — with voters 18 to 44 going to Sanders, and voters 45 and older going to Biden — older voters consistently went to the polls in much higher margins, as Sanders failed to energize large turnout amount among younger Americans.

The loss in Michigan was particularly damaging to the Sanders campaign: he won an upset victory there in 2016, a painful loss for Hillary Clinton and a key part of the Vermont senator's general-election electability argument. Sanders' inability to replicate the feat on Tuesday was rife with symbolic meaning for the Vermont senator; it also led many political observers to reconsider how much of his 2016 support was truly based in support for his progressive platform, rather than anti-Clinton protest votes.

As of this writing, Biden holds a 160-delegate lead in the Associated Press count (823 to 663), with 213 delegates still left to be allocated. Candidates who have dropped out, plus Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, hold a combined 165 delegates.

The Democratic nod is now plainly Biden's to lose, as Sanders left without a clear path to victory — a reversal from whether the two contenders stood just one month ago, after Biden placed fourth and fifth in Iowa and New Hampshire, respectively.

Most of the upcoming primary states —including Illinois, Florida, and Ohio on March 17 and Georgia on March 24 — are also expected to favor Biden and expand Sanders' growing deficit in the race.

Although 53% of delegates are still up for grabs, in some corners of the Democratic Party, the primary race was effectively over Tuesday. "The math is now clear," Guy Cecil, the chairman of Priorities USA, the party's largest super PAC, tweeted. "Joe Biden is going to be the Democratic nominee for President and  @prioritiesUSA is going to do everything we can to help him defeat Donald Trump in November."

As results rolled in, entrepreneur Andrew Yang became the 11th former 2020 candidate to endorse Biden; "I believe that Joe Biden will be the Democratic nominee and I've always said I'm going to support whoever the nominee is," Yang said in a CNN appearance.

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat and one of Biden's highest-profile endorsers, even went so far as to urge the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to "step in" and cancel future debates to "shut this primary down" after Biden's strings of victories.

In his celebratory remarks on Tuesday, Biden focused on reaching out to Sanders' base of supporters, as though he had already clinched the nomination. "I want to thank Bernie Sanders and his supporters for their tireless energy and their passion," the former vice president said. "We share a common goal, and together we’ll defeat Donald Trump. We’ll defeat him together."

Sanders, meanwhile, did not even make an appearance to address the results.

Coronavirus: The latest

--- U.S. cases of coronavirus surpassed 1,000 on Tuesday, according to data kept by John Hopkins University. There are now 1,020 cases in 35 states and the District of Columbia.

--- "President Trump told GOP senators Tuesday he wants to dramatically reduce the payroll tax through at least the end of the year, a plan that could deliver a massive — but expensive — boost to many businesses and voters as he heads into the November presidential election."

"But his proposal was not warmly received by Republicans, and it was also panned by Democrats, leaving policymakers searching for any common ground as the coronavirus’s outbreak continues to take its toll on the economy. One area of consensus, though, could be around the issue of paid sick leave for employees, an idea Democrats support and in which Trump has shown some interest. But in the past the two sides have taken different approaches, and it’s not clear whether agreement can be reached." (Washington Post)

--- "The Trump administration is likely to extend the April 15 tax deadline as part of an effort to mitigate the effects of the novel coronavirus on U.S. households and businesses, according to an administration official and another person familiar with the matter." (Wall Street Journal)

--- "Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden have begun canceling campaign rallies because of concerns about the coronavirus, a first on the 2020 presidential campaign trail as concerns about the outbreak mount."

"Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee said there will be no live audience at the next presidential debate Sunday in Phoenix. CNN, which will broadcast the debate, said there will be no a spin room or media filing center, either." (NBC News)


President Donald Trump will meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, sit down with bankers to discuss coronavirus response, and have dinner with First Lady Melania Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Second Lady Karen Pence.

Vice President Mike Pence will deliver remarks to the National League of Cities Board of Directors meeting, meet with hospital executives to discuss coronavirus response, join President Trump's meeting with bankers, lead a White House Coronavirus Task Force meeting, and join President Trump and their wives for dinner.

The Senate will vote on passage of H.J.Res. 76, providing for congressional disapproval of the Education Department's "Borrower Defense Institutional Accountability" rule.

The House will consider three pieces of legislation:

  1. S.J.Res. 68 – To direct the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities against the Islamic Republic of Iran that have not been authorized by Congress
  2. H.R. 6172 – USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020
  3. S. 760 – Support for Veterans in Effective Apprenticeships Act of 2019

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