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What to watch for in Super Tuesday results

Across 14 states, voters are going to the polls on this Super Tuesday to make their choices for the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee. Many candidates have come and gone from this race, with three exiting right after the South Carolina primary only days ago. Stu Rothenberg of Inside Politics joins Judy Woodruff for in-depth analysis of what’s at stake and which results will be critical.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    And with me now here in the studio for more in-depth analysis is Stu Rothenberg. He's the senior editor of Inside Elections and a longtime friend of the "NewsHour."

    So, Stu, listening to all of these reporters around the country — I know you are constantly reporting about this election, this primary — what are you feeling?

  • Stuart Rothenberg:

    They touched on everything that I was going to touch on. I will do it real briefly.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Uh-oh. I'm sure you have got more.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Stu Rothenberg:

    And there are half-a-dozen things I'm looking at, Judy.

    Obviously, who wins which states, what the margins are, and what the delegates are. The February contests constituted — accounted for 155 delegates. This is over 1,300 delegates.

    The February contests were more about momentum and introducing voters — introducing candidates to voters, but this is really about delegates.

    I'm going to be looking at African-American voters, particularly in the South, but everywhere, to see how they're performing for Joe Biden. There is no Jim Clyburn, as there was in South Carolina. But are those black voters turning out and turning out for him?

    I want to look at Bernie Sanders' base, Senator Sanders' base, particularly younger voters. Are they surging? Are they coming out in big numbers, as Senator Sanders says he's going to be able to do, and also the Latino voters?

    Fourth, Michael Bloomberg, is he relevant or not? Did he waste all his money or not?

    And, fifth, I think I'm going to look for a developing narrative. Two weeks ago the narrative was, can anybody stop Bernie Sanders? And, yesterday, and it was, wow, the Biden comeback.

    What will the narrative be tomorrow? And the narrative may be formed early in the evening, rather than late, when California comes in.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    You mean when the result — the early — the states that close early, the Virginias and the North Carolinas.

  • Stu Rothenberg:

    Yes, the states — right, the 7:00 and 8:00 — 7:00, 8:00, 8:30 states.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, by the way, I know Tennessee is supposed — is closing — it was closing at 8:00. They have moved it back to 9:00 because of that terrible tornado that went through.

    But, still, how — what election can you compare this too? There's been so much change, given Biden's huge win in South Carolina. Within hours after that, you had three candidates drop out. Two of them endorse him, and just a whole lot of movement in Joe Biden's direction just in — and hours ago.

    How does that affect what could happen today — tonight?

  • Stu Rothenberg:

    I think we have to believe that our politics has changed, that the tenor and tone of our politics have changed, that Donald Trump changes the election, that there's a lot of uncertainty.

    You shouldn't expect anything. Keep an open mind as to what will happen.

    In terms of Joe Biden, what that — what his recovery reminded me of was, do you remember John McCain, when he was carrying his own luggage through airports?

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Very well.

  • Stu Rothenberg:

    And we wrote that off.

    (CROSSTALK)

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Trying to make a comeback.

  • Stu Rothenberg:

    And Joe Biden has had that sort of comeback. Let's see if it continues.

    But a lot of questions, Judy, a lot of questions.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But just the volatility here at the end.

    I mean, I have been trying to think of a race that — where you had this much change, first of all, this many candidates in it until just a few days ago.

  • Stu Rothenberg:

    Yes. Yes.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And the numbers have shrunk, but you still have five candidates.

  • Stu Rothenberg:

    Yes.

    No, I — and we have a candidate who's just starting right now, with Michael Bloomberg. So, no, I don't think there's any comparison. This is a unique situation in a unique political environment.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    What about — you mentioned President Trump. He certainly is the backdrop, so many voters this year saying, I just want somebody who can defeat President Trump.

    How much do you think that electability argument is figuring into what we're seeing?

  • Stu Rothenberg:

    I don't.

    I think — I think Sanders' voters think that he's the most electable, and Biden's voters think he's the most electable. And Bloomberg voters think he's the most electable.

    And if you look at the surveys that have been conducted over the past few weeks, Sanders and Biden both beat the president by comparable numbers. So, I don't think that's relevant.

    I think it's really a fight between the progressive wing of the party and the more pragmatic wing of the party. And we will know in a few weeks.

    Remember, this is a big haul, 1,300 — more than 1,300 delegates, but, in a week, there are 357 delegates available, the week after that, 510.

    April 28 has the Northeast primary with over 660 delegates.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Right.

  • Stu Rothenberg:

    So this could go on for a while.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    It could go on for a while.

    But just quickly on the amount of money Mike Bloomberg is spending, over — we are told over $500 million so far, even though he's the last person to get in.

    Do we have anything in history to compare that to, and whether the money makes a difference?

  • Stu Rothenberg:

    Yes, absolutely.

    The only thing we have to compare it to is Tom Steyer's $200 million that he spent. Money apparently can't buy a presidential nomination. It might be able to buy a Senate seat or a House seat, but not a presidential nomination.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    We haven't seen it happen before. But are you saying it couldn't happen again?

  • Stu Rothenberg:

    I think you need more than money.

    You need — the candidate has to have certain candidate qualities and put together a sort of campaign to have a sort of appeal and be running in the right party.

    I think Michael Bloomberg has a very tough haul here. Look, let's see how he does. Maybe he will surprise.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And the Democrats know they're running up against President Trump's campaign, which will have a huge amount of money in the general election.

  • Stu Rothenberg:

    Exactly.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Stu Rothenberg.

    And you're with us all evening. Thank you very much.

  • Stu Rothenberg:

    I am. Thank you.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And please join us right here, back here tonight, at 11:00 p.m. Eastern for our Vote 2020 "PBS NewsHour" Super Tuesday election special.

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