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AP Calls Vermont For Bernie Sanders As More Super Tuesday Polls Close


It's the biggest day of the Democratic presidential primary - Super Tuesday - with voters in 14 states casting ballots. The first polls closed at the top of this hour. In Virginia, the Associated Press projects former Vice President Joe Biden will win. Polls have also closed in North Carolina. And in Vermont, the AP projects Senator Bernie Sanders will win his home state.

Let's go first to Scott Detrow, who is at the Sanders campaign party in Vermont. Scott, what's happening there?

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Well, the crowd started cheering that Vermont result. But since then, the mood has dampened just a little bit. A very quick call in Virginia for former Vice President Joe Biden is not the way the Sanders campaign wanted tonight to start. Bernie Sanders spent a lot of campaign time in Virginia the last few days, which is notable, given how many states are on the ballot tonight. They thought they had a chance there. They did feel like Virginia and North Carolina, in particular, could be places where this last-minute Biden surge that began with that big win in South Carolina could really affect the results. And in about 40 minutes since polls closed, that does seem to be the case in Virginia.

SHAPIRO: NPR's Domenico Montanaro is here in the studio.

Domenico, what do you take away from these early results?

DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Well, right now we have North Carolina that's closed at 7:30, and it's a state that looks a lot like Virginia; somewhat in between Virginia and South Carolina, where - Joe Biden did quite well in South Carolina, obviously. And he won Virginia, as Scott's pointing out. The exit polls in North Carolina show that Joe Biden did pretty well with black voters once again; won 63% of them. He won late deciders. Mike Bloomberg, again, looks like he could potentially be below the 15% threshold. And that's very important because if those trends play out through some of these other states tonight, you can see what's shaping up to be a Bernie Sanders versus Joe Biden race.

SHAPIRO: This is the first night that we're seeing whether Bloomberg's investment of hundreds of millions of dollars...

MONTANARO: Hundreds of millions.

SHAPIRO: ...Paid off.

MONTANARO: It's remarkable. And one thing that we've also noticed in the exit polls tonight is that Democratic voters have soured on Mike Bloomberg. In Virginia, for example, 58% unfavorable rating to Mike Bloomberg. In California, a big state later tonight, the biggest prize of the evening - 60% unfavorable rating for Mike Bloomberg.

SHAPIRO: Interesting figure that you highlighted - the extent to which the coronavirus factored into voters' decision-making.

MONTANARO: Really remarkable - 55% of Virginia voters said that the coronavirus was an important factor in their vote. And of those voters, they overwhelmingly went to Joe Biden. Almost 60% of those voters who said it was an important factor in their vote went to Biden.

SHAPIRO: And Scott Detrow with the Sanders campaign, this result in Vermont was expected. It is his home state. What other states is the Sanders camp looking for for a potential victory tonight?

DETROW: Well, particularly if Joe Biden continues to do so well tonight, they will be looking for Vermont for the hope of getting a big enough share of the vote that they could win all the delegates in Sanders' home state. That's what happened in 2016 against Hillary Clinton. And if Sanders is hanging on with Biden winning in places like Virginia, that might matter. A lot of the states in the map tonight that Sanders is hoping to do better in are in the western part of the country. We're not going to get those results for - later tonight, if we get them tonight at all. I think Texas...

SHAPIRO: Just to remind listeners, those include Texas and California, which are big states - a lot of delegates...

DETROW: That's right.

SHAPIRO: ...And, also, a lot of Latino voters, which Sanders has been appealing to specifically.

DETROW: That's right. And Utah and Colorado as well in the Mountain time zone are places that the Sanders campaign is focused. I think Texas, in particular, could be a key sign of how much Joe Biden was able to catch Bernie Sanders on the momentum front tonight. That is a state that, obviously, has important implications; second only to California on the map. I think the Sanders campaign thinks that they were able to build up enough of a resource advantage in California that Biden cannot catch him there.

SHAPIRO: All right, that's NPR's Scott Detrow with the Sanders campaign and Domenico Montanaro here in the studio - much more to come.

Thanks to you both.

MONTANARO: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Domenico Montanaro is NPR's senior political editor/correspondent. Based in Washington, D.C., his work appears on air and online delivering analysis of the political climate in Washington and campaigns. He also helps edit political coverage.
Scott Detrow is a White House correspondent for NPR and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast.
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