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2020 Super Tuesday live updates: Biden sweeps the South, wins most delegates

More than 1,300 delegates — or about a third of the total — were at play on Super Tuesday.
Image: Voters in 14 states will cast ballots in Democratic primaries on \"Super Tuesday,\" March 3, 2020.
Voters in 14 states cast ballots in Democratic primaries on "Super Tuesday," March 3, 2020.Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

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.

More than 1,300 delegates — about a third of the total — were at play, more than on any other day in the primary season.

Download the NBC News app for full coverage and alerts on the latest news.

Live Blog

Sanders says attacks urging Warren to drop out are 'disgusting'

Sanders on Wednesday called the online attacks against Warren urging her to drop out of the race "disgusting" and said people should "respect the time and the space that she needs to make her decision."

The Vermont lawmaker said he spoke with Warren over the phone earlier Wednesday and said that she had not made any decision regarding her campaign. 

"What Senator Warren told me is she is assessing her campaign," he said. "She has not made any decision as of this point and it is important for all of us, certainly me who has to know Elizabeth Warren for many, many years, to respect the time and the space that she needs to make her decision."

Warren campaign manager Roger Lau told staff in an email Wednesday morning that the senator is assessing her path forward in the 2020 race after a disappointing Super Tuesday finish.

Sanders called her an "excellent senator" who has run a "strong campaign" and called for an end to the online attacks.

"I think the Twitter world is an opportunity for people to debate issues...but not to make vitriolic attacks on someone because you disagree with them," he said.

Joe Biden is the apparent winner in Maine, NBC News projects

Joe Biden is the apparent winner of the Democratic primary in Maine, NBC News projects.

Maine is the 10th Super Tuesday state that the former VP has won. California is the only Super Tuesday contest that has yet to be called by NBC News.

House Homeland chair seeks protection for 2020 candidates after Biden incident

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson is requesting Secret Service protection for the Democratic presidential candidates after anti-dairy protesters stormed the stage at former Vice President Joe Biden's rally on Tuesday night.

Biden and Bernie Sanders in particular appear to satisfy several criteria for affording the protection, Thompson, D-Miss., wrote in a letter to acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and congressional leaders.

"Taking into consideration the remaining candidates’ large campaign operations, high polling averages, as well as physical threats to their safety — all factors contemplated by the Guidelines — I urge you to immediately initiate the consultation process to determine whether to provide USSS protection to certain major Democratic presidential candidates," Thompson wrote.

Secret Service protection is assigned to candidates based on decisions made by the top Democratic and Republican leaders of Congress in consultation with the homeland security secretary and the Secret Service. 

“The Democratic Congress is worried about it,” Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., the Biden campaign's co-chairman, said Wednesday after a reporter asked whether the incident at Biden's rally had prompted a request for protection.

Heading into the Super Tuesday Democratic primary contests, President Donald Trump professed nonchalance about the outcome.

"I don't care who wins," he told reporters at the White House, downplaying the impact of results that could affect his re-election fortunes.

The hours that followed did bring bad news for the president: A leading potential competitor, Joe Biden, proved his strength Tuesday night among key groups of voters needed to win the general election, with the former vice president claiming solid support from black and suburban voters.

But the night also delivered some good news for him and his team: the reality that the Democratic contest appears far from over, with Bernie Sanders' progressive wing showing no signs of coalescing behind the establishment pick — meaning weeks, if not months, of potential party infighting.

Trump's advisers have long said their best-case scenario wasn't the emergence of one particular candidate but rather a drawn-out Democratic nominating process that would divide the party. With Sanders and Biden now in a clear two-man race, that scenario seemed likely.

Read the full analysis here.

President Donald Trump called Joe Biden's Super Tuesday performance an "incredible comeback" during a meeting at the White House on Wednesday before mocking both Elizabeth Warren and Mike Bloomberg's poor showings.

Warren "was really a spoiler" for progressive rival Bernie Sanders while Bloomberg "made a fool out of himself," Trump told reporters.

The president made the comments about the candidates gunning for his job after allowing reporters in to part of a meeting administration officials were having with airline executives about the coronavirus. Reporters were being ushered out of the room after Trump answered several questions about the virus when the president said, "I can't believe it. No questions on the election?"

Read more on what Trump said about the Democratic candidates' showings on Tuesday.

 

#RiggedPrimary trends, but not for the reason you'd think

The morning after Biden won most of the Super Tuesday states, the hashtag #RiggedPrimary surged to the top of Twitter’s trending topics section— despite no evidence that any of the contests had been rigged.

The hashtag received initial support from fans of Sanders, who claimed that the recent dropouts of Buttigieg, Klobuchar and Steyer were part of a coordinated, Democratic Party-fueled conspiracy to vault Biden to the nomination.

But the hashtag was primarily driven to the top spot, however, by people denouncing the idea that the primary was rigged, accidentally fanning conspiracy flames. The top three tweets receiving the most engagement about the hashtag on Wednesday morning all bemoaned the viral spread of the hashtag.

The same phenomenon, where a political hashtag became the top trend in the U.S.  because of users tweeting viral denunciations, occurred in January when Warren defenders accidentally pushed the hashtag #NeverWarren to the top of Twitter’s trending topics.

Super Tuesday lessons: 7 key takeaways from a big night

WASHINGTON — It was the biggest night of Joe Biden's half-century in politics. Bernie Sanders fell short but notched up some valuable victories to make it a two-person race. Elizabeth Warren lost her home state and Mike Bloomberg went bust on a half-a-billion dollar bet.

The South Carolina victory, the consolidation of moderate rivals and even the fear of the coronavirus propelled the former vice president to victories in a majority of the 14 states that voted Tuesday, from New England to the South to the Midwest. He won Virginia, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Alabama Arkansas, Minnesota and Texas.

Sanders won Colorado, Utah and Vermont. Maine and California were still too close to call.

As of Wednesday morning, Biden led with 453 delegates, while Sanders had 373; Warren was miles behind with 39 and Bloomberg had 18, according to NBC News projections.

Click here for seven takeaways from a big day of voting:

Trump tweets on Bloomberg's exit

 

And he didn't stop there. 

 

Bloomberg's massive Super Tuesday spending netted little

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg's unprecedented spending threatened to shake up the Democratic presidential race, but as the dust continues to settle, he appears to have little to show for it. 

Bloomberg dropped about $198 million in television and radio ads in states that held their nominating contests on Super Tuesday, according to ad-tracking firm Advertising Analytics. And as of 10 a.m. ET, Bloomberg has netted just 18 delegates — $11 million per delegate so far with results still coming in.  

That showing led to Bloomberg dropping on Wednesday morning, arguing that "after yesterday’s results, the delegate math has become virtually impossible — and a viable path to the nomination no longer exists."

Bloomberg's dollar-for-delegate tradeoff has been massive, but that investment is magnified when compared to how many delegates Biden is poised to win in states where he spent markedly less. 

Despite not spending a dime on the air in Massachusetts, Biden is projected to win the state. Bloomberg, who spent almost $10 million there on those ads, is at 12 percent with 95 percent of precincts reporting. 

In Texas, Bloomberg spent $52 million on TV and radio ads and appears to be poised for a distant third-place finish. Biden is the projected winner there, having spent about $463,000 on those ads.

Overall, Bloomberg spent just over $112 million on the airwaves in the Super Tuesday states that the NBC News' Decision Desk projects Biden will win. Biden spent $1.4 million on the airwaves in those states he's projected to win. 

So far, Biden is projected to net 400 delegates on Super Tuesday alone.

Sanders launches three new ads targeting Biden

Bernie Sanders launched three new ads on Wednesday in nine states targeting former Vice President Joe Biden as the race rapidly narrowed following Biden's Super Tuesday victories

One of the ads, "Feel the Bern," focuses on past comments then-President Barack Obama made about Sanders, complimenting him for being authentic and someone who has gotten bills passed for veterans. It's a new kind of ad for Sanders, as his campaign typically likes to draw on Sanders being an outsider, rather than a deal-maker. 

Biden has consistently run his own TV and digital ads that show Obama complimenting him and granting him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And the Biden team is responding to Sanders' use of Obama, saying that Obama "chose" Biden, while Sanders considered a primary challenge against him.

"Barack Obama chose Vice President Biden to be his partner over 8 years in the White House, entrusting him with managing the stimulus that saved our economy from a depression, obtaining the deciding vote for the Affordable Care Act, and countless national security priorities," Biden campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates said. "By contrast, Senator Sanders explored a primary challenge to President Obama, who he compared to a 'moderate Republican' and said was not a 'progressive.' As recent history has proven, no quantity of ads can rewrite history — and there's no substitute for genuinely having the back of the best president of our lifetimes." 

The Biden team is also re-upping an ad they ran against Sanders in South Carolina that focused on Sanders' consideration of a primary challenge. 

Sanders' two other ads, "Protect Social Security" and "Decimated," take direct aim at Biden's past votes.

The ads call out Biden for comments he made about freezing federal spending, which would have included Social Security benefits for a limited time, and for supporting trade deals, like NAFTA, that Sanders opposed. 

Sanders and Biden have traded barbs on Social Security and trade deals before — Sanders is one of the only Democratic presidential candidates who voted against and spoke out against the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement. 

The new ads will run in Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Washington — all of which vote on either March 10 or 17.