Fourteen states and one territory held nominating contests for the Democratic Party's candidate for president on Tuesday, the most pivotal day on the presidential primary calendar.
When the polls closed on Super Tuesday and results came in, it became clear that former Vice President Joe Biden had swept the Southern states, winning the primaries in Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas, as well as Minnesota and Massachusetts, and had ended the night with the most delegates. Sen. Bernie Sanders came out on top in Colorado, Utah and his home state of Vermont, NBC News projected.
On Wednesday, NBC News declared Biden the apparent winner in Maine, though the race against Sanders in the state was a tight one.
Download the NBC News app for full coverage and alerts on the latest news.
NBC News Exit Poll: Most states show decline in first-time voters from Super Tuesday 2016
Across seven states conducting presidential primaries on Tuesday that held contests on Super Tuesday four years ago, there’s a dip on average in the share of voters participating in their first presidential primary, results from the NBC News Exit Poll show. That’s dispiriting news for Democrats, who are hoping for a surge of new voters to help power the party to victory in November.
The seven states — Alabama, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Vermont — all held Super Tuesday presidential primaries on March 1, 2016. The Democratic nomination contest then, as now, featured a spirited competition between well-known candidates.
The share of first-time primary voters is down in five of the states (Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia and Vermont), up in Tennessee and flat in Massachusetts. Averaged across the seven states, first-time voters are 15 percent of the electorate in 2020, down from 17 percent in 2016.
NBC News Exit Poll: California voters are more liberal than in 2008
California’s Democratic electorate is more liberal than it was 12 years ago, the last time the state held an early primary. The NBC News Exit Poll finds that two-thirds of voters in Tuesday’s Democratic primary in California describe themselves as liberal. In 2008, only half described themselves this way.
Other key demographics, such as race and gender, are about the same in the 2020 California Democratic primary electorate as they were in 2008. Bernie Sanders won 44 percent of the liberal vote in Tuesday’s California contest, compared to 20 percent for Elizabeth Warren, 17 percent for Joe Biden and 8 percent for Mike Bloomberg, according to the poll.
Hillary Clinton won the last two contested California primaries, by 8 points over Barack Obama in 2008 and by 7 points over Bernie Sanders in 2016. There was no exit poll four years ago when Clinton wrapped up the delegate count the day before the state’s June primary. In 2008, the primary was held in early February when the nomination was still in question.
Most California voters hold positive views of Sanders (70 percent), Warren (67 percent) and Biden (62 percent). Just 32 percent of voters, in contrast, hold a positive view of Bloomberg.
Biden won late deciders by 41-to-30 percent over Sanders. Just 18 percent of California primary voters made up their minds in the last few days; most voters cast their ballots before Tuesday.
ANALYSIS: Biden finds his mojo on Super Tuesday
Talk about finding mojo.
Four days removed from a winless record in the fight for the Democratic presidential nomination, former Vice President Joe Biden barreled through a string of Southern states Tuesday to shovel piles of delegates into a campaign train that launched out of South Carolina on Saturday and has been picking up steam ever since.
"We were told when you get to Super Tuesday, it may be over," Biden told supporters Tuesday night, his voice full of excitement. "Well, it may be over for the other guy."
The centrist's early victories in Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee — fueled by large majorities among African American voters — promised to put him in a strong position to fight Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for the right to take on President Donald Trump in November. His better-than-expected showing in New England and along I-35 in the heart of the country threatened to knock Sanders and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party on its heels.
"What we are watching is the voices of African American and other diverse communities being heard loudly around the nation," said Marcus Mason, a Biden donor and former senior director of government affairs for Amtrak. "South Carolina was not a firewall, but a foundation for what was to come."
NBC News Exit Poll: Voters in five states support free college tuition, 'Medicare for All'
Voters across five Super Tuesday states — California, Texas, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia — expressed widespread support for free tuition at public colleges and replacing private health insurance with a single payer system, according to NBC News Exit Poll results. Taken together, half of these Democratic primary voters favor both policy proposals, while just 1 in 5 favor neither.
Among those who want both free college and "Medicare for All" as the nation’s only health plan, 49 percent supported Bernie Sanders today. Just 20 percent of this group backed Joe Biden, and 17 percent voted for Elizabeth Warren. But among those who do not support either idea, 44 percent backed Biden, while 23 percent voted for Mike Bloomberg and 9 percent supported Sanders.
Those who want both policy options enacted are more likely to be younger than 45. There is also more support for both proposals among Latino voters than among non-Latinos of any race.
Fully 3 in 4 primary voters who call themselves very liberal back both "Medicare for All" and free college, compared to half of those who are somewhat liberal and just over one-third of moderates and conservatives.
Biden strikes close to Sanders' home, winning Massachusetts
Excited Biden rallies supporters after sweeping Super Tuesday wins
After an initially strong Super Tuesday return, a jubilant Biden addressed supporters saying, "it’s still early, but things are looking awful, awful good."
"For those who have been knocked down, counted out, left behind, this is your campaign!" he said excitedly. "Just a few days ago, the press and the pundits declared the campaign dead. And then came South Carolina, they had something to say about it! And we’re told, well, when you got to Super Tuesday, it’d be over. Well, it may be over for the other guy."
"Tell that to the folks of Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Minnesota and maybe even Massachusetts, it's too close to call!" he continued. "We're still waiting for Texas and California, a few other small states to come in. But it’s looking good! So I'm here to report we are very much alive! And make no mistake about it, this campaign will send Donald Trump packing. This campaign is taking off, join us."
Biden's speech was briefly interrupted as protesters approached the stage, but he continued with his speech undeterred. NBC News projects the former vice president to win Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Minnesota and Massachusetts as political observers await results in delegate-rich Texas and California.
Watch Biden's full remarks here.
How Klobuchar helped secure Biden's Minnesota win
Anti-dairy protesters storm stage during Biden speech
Anti-dairy protesters interrupted Biden's speech to supporters in California.
Two protesters stormed the stage as the former vice president and his wife, Jill Biden, were rallying supporters.
One protester, holding a sign, was taken off stage immediately by what might have been security personnel. Another protester who stormed the stage was swiftly blocked by Symone Sanders, the campaign's senior adviser, as well as volunteers and what also could have been security personnel, and was taken off the stage.
Anti-dairy protesters also interrupted Warren's speech in Houston on Saturday.
'Nearly impossible' for Sanders to stop Biden if delegate gap grows, Todd says
Biden is having such a strong night that he might be unstoppable, Chuck Todd, NBC News' political director, said late Tuesday.
"Joe Biden has already had the night he needs," Todd said on NBC News' special report on Super Tuesday. "It's more likely now that Joe Biden has more delegates at the end of tonight than Bernie Sanders. ... Even with a big Sanders win in California, it is hard to see how it isn't going to turn out that way. If that is the case, if Joe Biden leaves Super Tuesday with more delegates than anybody else, it will be nearly impossible for Sanders to stop him."
NBC News Exit Poll: Two-thirds of Bloomberg voters picked him before recent contest upheaval
Mike Bloomberg has struggled to gain support in the Super Tuesday contests. Those he did persuade skewed older — 4 in 5 of his supporters were age 50 and older, according to the NBC News Exit Poll. They also tilted female (58 percent).
Many of Bloomberg's supporters said they made up their minds before the recent upheaval in the Democratic contest. Two-thirds of Bloomberg’s voters on Super Tuesday said that they made their choice in February or earlier.