On Politics: Super Tuesday Is Here

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  • And then there were seven. No, six. Wait, five. Democratic candidates have been dropping like flies, at a rate of one per night, since Joe Biden won the South Carolina primary in a landslide on Saturday. Amy Klobuchar was the most recent one, exiting the race on Monday night, less than 12 hours before the polls were to open today in Super Tuesday states.

  • By the end of Monday, both Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg had officially endorsed Biden, uniting in a last-minute attempt to solidify his support among moderate Democrats in the lead-up to Super Tuesday.

  • Today is the moment of truth: Fourteen states will vote, as well as Democrats abroad, and roughly one-third of all delegates will be up for grabs. Bernie Sanders is the favorite in the largest states (Texas and California), but Biden is hoping to ride the momentum from his South Carolina victory to a strong showing in various Southern states. Michael Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren both expect to pick up significant delegate hauls, and possibly a state or two.

  • [Read our detailed rundown of what the most recent polls are telling us could happen in the biggest Super Tuesday states.]

  • The swiftness and efficiency with which the Democratic establishment has coalesced around Biden is nearly unprecedented. Harry Reid, the former Senate majority leader, also threw his support behind Biden on Monday. “We need less confusion about who we’re all for,” he told The New York Times in an interview. The subtext was clear: Party leaders don’t want that person to be Sanders.

  • Still, it remains to be seen whether the departures of Klobuchar and Buttigieg will actually boost Biden. Polling suggests that he is not necessarily the clear second-choice pick among the supporters of other candidates, even moderate ones.

  • For his part, Sanders received one major endorsement on Monday, but not from a powerful Democratic politician. It was from Democracy for America, a liberal political action committee, which had tried to draft Warren to run for president in 2016 before ultimately endorsing Sanders in that race. This time around, its choice was clear: Nearly 80 percent of D.F.A.’s 38,000 members voted to back Sanders.

  • Sanders continued to project the air of a front-runner as he spun through events in Super Tuesday states on Monday. But he also took some pointed swipes at the man who is now his obvious opponent. “Does anybody think that Joe can go to Michigan or Wisconsin or Indiana or Minnesota, and say, ‘Vote for me, I voted for those terrible trade agreements’?” Mr. Sanders told a crowd in St. Paul, Minn. “I don’t think so.”

  • Klomentum officially became Joementum in Dallas, where Klobuchar appeared alongside Biden at a rally, bowing out and offering him her endorsement in a single swoop. It was a tough balance to strike, delivering a campaign-ending speech before an erstwhile rival’s crowd. “I cannot think of a better way to end my campaign than joining his,” Klobuchar said, framing a contrast between Biden and President Trump. “What I want all of you to do is vote for Joe. Vote for decency, vote for dignity, vote for a heart for our country.” Beto O’Rourke, the former congressman and presidential candidate, also gave a speech at the rally endorsing Biden.

  • Warren’s campaign is now acknowledging that her strategy hinges on reaching the convention and positioning herself as a consensus choice. Of course, she will want to win some states along the way — particularly Massachusetts, her home state, which votes today — but a big part of her strategy is projecting an image of composure and authority. To that end, on Monday she put out a detailed plan describing her strategy to confront the coronavirus, including a free medical treatment for all Americans and a stimulus program to combat the virus’s impact on the economy.

  • If you ever hear someone say that Yoko Ono broke up the Beatles, you should set them straight. But Bernie Sanders might have just broken up Public Enemy. The iconic hip-hop group’s activist-minded co-founder Chuck D gave a concert with Public Enemy Radio, an offshoot band, at a Sanders rally in Los Angeles on Sunday. But before the rally happened, the rapper Flavor Flav sent a cease-and-desist order demanding that the campaign stop using his image and likeness when promoting the endorsement, calling the campaign “a fictional revolution.” That led Public Enemy to announce it would be “moving forward” without Flavor Flav. On Monday, Chuck D wrote on Twitter that Flavor Flav had refused to do the show because he “will NOT do free benefit shows.”

Joe Biden was joined by Amy Klobuchar at his campaign rally in Dallas, where she endorsed him.

The Federal Election Commission reached a dubious milestone over the weekend: It has now been without a quorum for six full months.

That means that as we enter the biggest day of voting of the primary season, the agency in charge of overseeing nationwide voting remains too short-handed to issue rulings and judgments.

Since the end of August, when its vice chairman resigned, the president and the Senate have been unable (or simply unwilling) to appoint and confirm commissioners. So a presidential election that has already been plagued by reports of foreign meddling and electoral difficulties is taking place without the usual oversight.

Daniel Weiner of the Brennan Center for Justice posted on Twitter about the implications: “Say you are a candidate who wants to pay social media influencers to hype your candidacy online. Do they need to say that you paid them in their posts? Seems like an important question, and since the relevant laws date back to the 70s the answer isn’t exactly clear,” he wrote.

“The FEC is the only body with the power to provide authoritative guidance,” he added. “With it sitting on the sidelines, unscrupulous actors will do what they want (probably keep the payments hidden) and everyone else will have to muddle through.”

Humans aren’t the only creatures that vote — or even the only ones that caucus.

As meerkats move from dirt patch to dirt patch, hunting for food, they communicate with one another through shouts and calls, using a kind of voice vote to decide when it’s time to move on.

When honey bees are trying to decide where to build a new hive, they employ a caucus-like system: Hundreds of bees will go out and scout locations, and as each one comes back, it uses a kind of dance move to describe the new real estate it has found. Eventually, the scouts begin to persuade one another. When consensus emerges around a single scout, the entire colony comes together and ships off to build a new nest.

When African wild dogs are deciding whether to go out on a hunt, they gather for a rally — jumping up and down and playing with one another. Then they collectively reach a decision on whether to go out on an expedition. A “yes” vote is communicated in the form of a sneeze, according to a 2017 study.

The science writer Elizabeth Preston looked into these and other examples of animal democracy — and came away with a fascinating, heartwarming look at the ways fauna come to collective decisions. Take a look — and while you’re waiting nervously tonight for the results to come in, take heart that at least you didn’t have to sneeze your way to a decision.

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