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Exit Polling Results Minutes Away; New Poll: Clinton's Lead Over Sanders Narrows Slightly; Michigan, Mississippi, Idaho and Hawaii Vote Today. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired March 8, 2016 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, Super Tuesday, 2.0. Voters have their say in states that could say a lot about where the entire race goes from here.

[17:00:13] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Voter views. What new exit polling just in reveals about who's casting ballots and why.

BLITZER: Trump metrics. Is the Republican front-runner peaking or fading with the competition trying very hard to stop him tonight and next week.

COOPER: Plus, dueling Democrats. Can Hillary Clinton maintain her Southern edge by taking Mississippi? Will Bernie Sanders stop her momentum in Michigan? I'm Anderson Cooper.

BLITZER: And I'm Wolf Blitzer, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

BLITZER: Another big night for candidates in both parties. Millions of voters going to the polls right now in Michigan, Mississippi, Idaho and Hawaii. Just a few hours away from learning the results, which could answer a whole lot of questions.

We have the first batch of exit polling coming in right now. That could give some early indications. Our David Chalian is going through the numbers now. We're going to bring him in momentarily. And of course, we have our correspondents across the map at polling places, in campaign stops, bringing you all the latest, as well as the best team of analysts around.

Let start with CNN's Sara Murray. She's traveling with the Trump campaign.

Sara, what's Donald Trump's message today? Is he at all concerned about losing some momentum if he doesn't necessarily win tonight?

SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Donald Trump had sort of a quiet day today. He hasn't been campaigning, but when he was in Mississippi last night, he was bragging about how he's ahead in the polls by 20 points there.

But he was careful to remind voters they need to actually show up and vote. And I think that's a reality of the situation. The campaign goes into tonight really wanting to win as many delegates as possible, especially in Michigan, especially in Mississippi. So a loss in either of those states would be a blow to them.

But they're also looking at states essentially as stepping stones to the big prizes. There's a reason we are in Florida. That is because they are laser-focused on this state. This is a winner-take-all state. They want to win here. They want to knock Marco Rubio out once and for all come the 15th.

BLITZER: The campaign, the whole -- the whole nature of the campaign, as important as the states are right now, the states next Tuesday are critically important. That could make or break some of these candidates, right?

MURRAY: Yes. I think that's exactly right, Wolf. And of course, we all know what the stakes are for Marco Rubio. This is his home state. But for Donald Trump, he needs to show that he can win here in Florida in the face of what has just been an avalanche of attacks against him.

Remember, so far in this race, Trump has faced criticism, certainly, but he has not faced a coordinated assault from his opponents, and that's what we're seeing now. We're seeing Cruz go after him. We're seeing Marco Rubio go after him. And we're seeing a number of allies who just want anyone but Trump spending a lot of money on the airwaves, and that's what his campaign members tell us here in Florida, that Trump is really facing a tough haul.

And while he may be losing a little bit of momentum, they still feel pretty confident in the state. But we'll see if that holds through the 15th.

BLITZER: We shall see soon enough. Sara, thanks very much. Sara Murray reporting.

And like Donald Trump, Ted Cruz is already campaigning hard for next week's contests in North Carolina, as well, looking to do well in the state rich with evangelicals, as well as suburban voters. Right now, he's just outside Charlotte in North Carolina, and so is our Sunlen Serfaty.

Sunlen, Ted Cruz has been talking to voters today in North Carolina, telling them he's the one to pick if they don't want Donald Trump in the White House. So what's the campaign saying about their chances for beating Trump, first of all, in tonight's primaries?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, they're not predicting any outright win in any of the states against Donald Trump tonight. But they do think that they will pick up a good amount of delegates. A win for Ted Cruz tonight would really be able to walk away with a firm grasp on the handle that he is the alternative to Trump.

And the way they do that is to really solidify that through the math, through the delegates to be able to rack them up here and there. And they really hope that they will be able to chip away at that -- the divide between Donald Trump and delegates and also, most importantly, marginalize all of the other candidates with the delegate counts -- Wolf. BLITZER: You know, Sunlen, North Carolina's primary's a week from

today. But today, the first time Ted Cruz has a talked to voters there in quite a while, right?

SERFATY: That's right. And this is a state that they really have been refocusing on. They see a big potential here in a state that votes on March 15. And it's been interesting. As Ted Cruz making his case to North Carolina voter states today, it's really also been about the viability of his campaign in contrast to his rivals, all rivals not named Donald Trump.

Today he really increased the intensity and the boldness, I should say, of his voters. And in this account, he said John Kasich and Marco Rubio, he said, bluntly to voters, look, they have no credible path forward to the nomination. He said it's impossible for either one of them to get to that magic number 1,237, of course, to get the nomination.

[17:05:10] So interesting pitch as he's making the case here to North Carolina voters. This is a state with big, big, big potential -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Sunlen Serfaty, thank you very much.

And as we've been saying today, Marco Rubio is guaranteeing a win next week in Florida's campaign spokesman will join us, by the way, shortly.

John Kasich is also looking ahead to his home-state primary, campaigning just South of Cleveland in Broadview Heights.

Phil Mattingly, meantime, at Kasich primary headquarters in Columbus, Ohio. He's joining us now.

Phil, Kasich's team has put a lot of emphasis on Michigan tonight serving as a place to gain momentum before Ohio's primary, which is critical next week. Are they defining success, first of all, for tonight?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, they're staying away from specific predictions, but there's no question that optimism within the campaign has really been rising over the last couple of days, and there's good reason. They've invested a ton in Michigan over the last couple weeks, almost $1 million in ads between the super PAC and Kasich's campaign.

Kasich himself has more or less moved into the state, rally after rally. And they also feel comfortable in the fact that it's a border state. It's a message that resonates not only in Ohio, but it resonates in Michigan.

Kasich's team not willing to predict where they're going to finish. But if you talk to them in -- being candid, they think a second-place finish is within the cards today, Wolf.

BLITZER: Phil Mattingly, thank you very much. We'll be talking, by the way, with Governor Kasich himself in our next hour. Stand by for that.

Also, as we said, we're just getting early exit polling results. David Chalian's crunching the numbers for us right now. Momentarily, he'll be joining us. Of course, the voters are still voting.

So let's go now to our Jean Casarez. She's at a polling place in Warren, Michigan.

Jean, are the crowds picking up there as it gets closer and closer to when the polls will close?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they are. I mean, it's been steady all day, but as you can see me, we've got lines. People are getting off work. They're coming. I mean, this is the auto industry right here. This is the largest suburb outside of Detroit, Michigan, and people here just are devoted to their jobs and the industry. The industry that they have lost.

So they are concerned, and they want the next president of this country to be for them, to help restore this area what it used to be.

The General Motors Technical Center is two miles away from where we are right now. What we're really seeing, Wolf, on the Republican side, we're seeing two names: Donald Trump and John Kasich. I mean, those are the napes we've been hearing all day. We've been talking to people after they vote, not so much Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio.

On the -- on the Democratic side, we're hearing Hillary Clinton and people also are tagging that with she's bringing Bill with her. They love Bill Clinton around here. But they are also hearing Bernie Sanders. People believe he's authentic, that he's with the people and for the people, and that's what they want more than anything.

BLITZER: What kind of voters have been turning out, based on your own reporting there? Any trends so far that you can discern?

CASAREZ: The diversity is amazing. I mean, all day, people with baby carriages are coming. I've seen the elderly. There was one woman that came here with her walker, and she walked here. And they were so concerned about her walking home with her walker so they drove her home, the polling officials got home safely here, to make sure she got home safely.

So the diversity is just immense. And the passion is evident, because they want change. They want someone that can believe in them.

And the passion for Donald Trump, I must say, is very strong, because the hallmark of his campaign has been the auto industry. And they want to restore jobs here and many people are for that because of what he has told them directly.

BLITZER: Jean Casarez reporting for us from Michigan, a critically important state, tonight. We'll get the results pretty soon.

Just ahead, the first exit polling results. And with Marco Rubio focusing in on his home state of Florida, which votes next Tuesday, by the way, we're going to hear from a Rubio spokesman about what their expectations are for this Tuesday. That would be for tonight.

Also, new polling on what appears to be a tightening national Democratic race as well as how state by state primary maps play out for Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders. All that, much more as our special coverage continues.


[17:13:40] BLITZER: Polls are still open, but they're campaigning still out there, campaign events going on right now. We're less than three hours away from the first poll closing in this second and possibly very pivotal Super Tuesday. A hundred and fifty delegates up for grabs on the Republican side, 166 for the Democrats.

And only a few moments ago we got our first early indications of what kind of electorate is turning out on this day, as well as the issues that are driving them. Our political director, David Chalian, has been going through new data that's just coming in.

You're getting some insight, initial insight, on what's happening today?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: That's right. As you said, two big primaries, Michigan and Mississippi, to get the night started. And we took a look at Republican side first. These are two different electorates in these two states.

Take a look at this. Talking about feelings about whether or not people feel angry at the federal government, Mississippi is an angry electorate, 44 percent of Republican voters in the Mississippi primary today tell us they are angry; 43 percent dissatisfied.

Michigan, a little less angry. Only about a third of Michigan Republican primary voters tell us they're angry more. A majority, 55 percent, tell us they are dissatisfied.

Now, let's look at the religious makeup here. And we looked at white evangelical Christians here. In Mississippi, 76 percent of the electorate is white evangelical Christian. That is far different than the picture we see in Michigan, which is a 49 percent evangelical Christian electorate.

[17:15:09] So, angrier, more religious in Mississippi. A little more secular and a little less angry, hot angry, in Michigan.

BLITZER: The first bit of indications that we're getting from these exit polls. I know you're going through more with our team over there. We're going to be sharing more with our viewers.

David Chalian, thanks very much.

COOPER: It's clearly a lot to digest as we wait for the polls to close tonight. A look ahead to key races next week.

On the panel tonight, chief national correspondent and "INSIDE POLITICS" anger, John King; political analysts Gloria Borger and David Gergen; senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson. We also have our commentators, Kayleigh McEnany, Mary Katharine Ham, Bakari Sellers and Peter Beinart. Kayleigh and Mary Katherine are both conservative writers, opinionators, if that's a word. Bakari is a Clinton supporter and a former South Carolina lawmaker. Peter Beinart is the supporter of "The Atlantic Monthly," where he (INAUDIBLE) University of New York, where he teaches journalism. He's also on the liberal side of things. No doubt about that.

John King, is there anything to read in from those exit polls? Certainly, Mississippi would be a state where, on paper, Ted Cruz, given the large percentage of evangelicals, certainly thought early on that he would have an advantage. But a lot of evangelicals have been going for Donald Trump.

KING: It is. If you look at map from South Carolina across to the Texas border -- and we'll see if Mississippi fills that in tonight -- it's all Donald Trump, which has sent a message to the Republican Party and to Ted Cruz: A, this is not the ideological race Republicans thought they could have. A Ted Cruz Tea Party evangelical candidate versus the Washington Republican establishment, because you have the great disrupter, Donald Trump.

There's certainly a lot of anti-establishment in the race. Don't get me wrong. But Ted Cruz thought he would been running against a Governor Bush or a Senator Rubio, running against Mitt Romney and John McCain, if you will, running against the old Republican Party. And he didn't get that race.

And Donald Trump has picked his pocket across the South. And that is why Donald Trump right now is the front-runner for the Republican nomination. The question tonight is, Trump took some body blows on Super Saturday. There are Republicans who think there are cracks. And if we can just hit Trump once or twice more, we can turn these cracks into his downfall.

Tonight is his chance to prove, as any good heavyweight boxer has to do, OK, I lost a round but I'm going to still win the fight. Can he win this? If he wins Mississippi and Michigan, it's pretty hard for people to say Donald Trump is knocked down. He may be a little wobbly. But to win a fight, you take some blows and you move on.

The other two contests, maybe a chance for somebody to get a win in Hawaii or Idaho. The prizes are Mississippi and Michigan. For Ted Cruz, who wants to say this is a two-man race, if he can't pick up a win in the South, it just so undermines his rationale.

COOPER: The margins might have been -- last night might have been a little less for Donald Trump. But nevertheless, you know...

BORGER: A wins a win. Yes, a win is a win. And I think, you know, the race tonight in many ways is a race for second, because...

KING: For the last time.

BORGER: Right. But you know, you have John Kasich, who should -- is trying, if he doesn't win Michigan, to be second in Michigan, because that would give him momentum going into his home state of Ohio. He has spent an awful lot of money in the state of Michigan.

If he's edged out by Cruz in Michigan, that's -- you know, that's a real problem for him.

In Mississippi, you've got Cruz saying, "You know what? If I'm not going to win Mississippi -- and I agree with John -- you know, Mississippi is 83 percent evangelicals, sort of tailor-made. But if Donald Trump's message on trade and immigration is really good there, then you know, Cruz -- the margin matters. If he comes in close second, that's good for Cruz.

GERGEN: It strikes me that the Mississippi outcome was the number of people angry, 44 percent. Very much what we saw in the Deep South, where Trump won so well on Super Tuesday. With evangelicals actually went to Trump in large numbers if they were angry. So I think these early numbers about the level of anger...

KING: I think David hits the point. We're overthinking this. This is change. They want change. Evangelicals want change. Blue-collar workers want change. Everybody wants change.

And so we -- sometimes, we look at the demographic groups, because in a traditional race, they are the key to who wins. This is not a traditional race.


KING: And Donald Trump is winning across the spectrum of the Republican Party on the change message. Blue-collar economics helps. Immigration helps. But the main thing is "I will turn Washington on its head."

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And it's such a difference from 2012. If you look at 2012, even in a state like Mississippi, there was an establishment lane. There was almost like a three-way tie with Santorum coming in first, and then Newt Gingrich.

But Mitt Romney in Mississippi got 30 percent of the vote.

So I think tonight, if you don't see an establishment lane playing competitively, maybe getting 30 percent combined, we might have to start turning away from this idea that the establishment still has a chance. And maybe it is really just down to Trump and Cruz, and this is all about the anti-establishment.

BORGER: Overwhelmingly in all these exit polls, we've seen that Republican primary voters want a candidate who tells it like it is. Period. They -- that's what counts. And they believe Donald Trump is the candidate who tells it like it is, and they're challenging Republican orthodoxy every step of the way, you know, on every issue.

[17:20:05] COOPER: David Chalian, they're making a difference between dissatisfaction and anger. I mean, it seems like they're pretty closely linked. Well, they're dissatisfied and angry. But you see -- and both of those blocks combined, whether -- whatever the breakdown is between them -- there's a slight difference in Michigan, more dissatisfaction and less anger. It still seems to be going to Donald Trump.

KING: And that's the lesson of this cycle, though. This is still a negative emotion. It's not all juts people with pitchforks who want to storm Washington. Some people are disappointed. Some people are depressed. Some people are mad. Some people are, you know, anxious about the economy.

But it's whole a stew of negative emotion, and it's put in one pot. And the guy who says, "You can't trust them. You can trust me, and I'll change things" is winning at the moment.

ANCHOR: We're going to have not only from our reporters, analysts but also from our commentators coming up. But Wolf, let's get back to you.

BLITZER: Anderson, thank you.

Joining us now. With this candidate guaranteeing a win next week in Florida, the Rubio campaign communications director, Alex Conant. Alex, thanks very much for joining us. I know he thinks he's going to win next Tuesday in Florida, but what about tonight? Four contests for the Republicans. Is he going to win any?

ALEX CONANT, RUBIO CAMPAIGN COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: We're very focused on Florida. We're guaranteeing a win there. That's our priority. That's where Marco is all this week. Frankly, that's where most of our staff is right now, is we're devoting most of ours resources.

I think -- I fully expect that Ted Cruz should win in Mississippi. That's a state that, when he outlined his SEC strategy, he should win in Mississippi. John Kasich has spent a lot of time in Michigan. I expect him to do very well there tonight. For us it comes down to Florida.

I know you're likely to call those two races earlier. I think we have our best shot at doing better tonight would be the states out west that don't close until many of us, many of the viewers...

BLITZER: Idaho and Hawaii. Rubio will do better?

CONANT: I expect that he'll do better in Idaho and Hawaii than he dos in the states that are likely to be called earlier tonight. So if everyone can just withhold their judgment until late tonight, we'll wake up and see where we are this morning. Either way this race is going to come down to Florida. If Marco wins Florida, which we expect he will do, we will have additional good news today, in terms of the absentee ballots and early voting that's going on there.

When we win Florida, that's 99 delegates. That's way more than anyone's likely to win.

BLITZER: It's winner take all.

CONANT: Winner take all. It's way more than anyone's likely to win there. It really puts us on a good trajectory.

BLITZER: Are we going to hear -- are we going to hear from Senator Rubio tonight? We're showing some live pictures. He's on the campaign trail right now.

CONANT: He's speaking in Florida right now. We're going to continue to campaign there into the evening, and then we have a busy day.

BLITZER: No formal speech tonight, you don't think?

CONANT: I don't expect something. Look, you have -- if we did a formal speech every election night, it would be every two nights. So...

BLITZER: Cruz is going after Senator Rubio today. I'm going to play a clip of what he said, and then we'll get your reaction.



SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: We're welcoming people right now who are supporting Marco Rubio, who are supporting John Kasich, both good, honorable men. But neither one of them has a path to defeating Donald Trump.

And if you want to defeat Donald Trump, I would say to you, come join us. And if we stand together, we'll see results we get.


BLITZER: He's basically saying he's the only one who can beat Donald Trump. Your guy can't.

CONANT: That's just not true. First of all, you're a voter in Florida right now, and you don't want Donald Trump to be the Republican nominee, you have to go vote for Marco Rubio. Because any vote for somebody other than Marco Rubio is essentially a vote for Donald Trump.

Look, because of the absentee ballots that have already been banked for Marco Rubio and the polls that we've seen right now, the only person that has a mathematical shot of beating Donald Trump in Florida is Marco Rubio.

And if you don't want Donald Trump to be the Republican nominee, you can't let him win Florida. So viewers in Florida, if they want to stop Donald Trump, if they're not, they should got vote today for Marco Rubio. If they're not in Florida, they should come to our website,, and help us out there. Because every dollar we're raising right now, we're pouring back into the Florida.

BLITZER: It's interesting. You talk about early voters. In this Monmouth poll of Florida Republican primary voters, among the early voters, people who have already voted, right now Rubio is at 48 percent; Trump is at 23 percent. Among likely voters, Rubio's at 30 percent. Trump's at 38 percent. What does that say to you?

CONANT: It says to me that we're doing a good job so far turning out our voters and that we have some ground to make up, which we've already always known in this last week. That's why we're spending every day between now and next Tuesday in Florida.

And we're very confident going into the homestretch. Look, Marco has run as an underdog in Florida before. He's beaten some of the Republican in the past who isn't a real conservative, with Charlie Crist in 2010. He knows how to win in Florida. We are very confident in his last week. And that's why -- you know, I know that there's elections happening tonight. We're going to pick up delegates tonight, but our focus is really on next Tuesday.

BLITZER: Alex Conant, thanks very much for coming in.

CONAN: thanks for having me back, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you. We'll have the latest on the Democratic primaries in Michigan and Mississippi. We'll also have much more of the exit polling numbers that are coming in right now.

Plus, two new national polls show the race is tightening. We'll be right back.


[17:29:13] CUOMO: Michigan and Mississippi are the battlegrounds in play today for the Democrats, 166 delegates up for grabs in those two states.

And tonight, two national polls, brand-new national polls, show the race is, in fact, tightening. A new ABC News/"Washington Post" poll shows Hillary Clinton ahead by seven points, 49 percent to 42 percent. That's a drop from her 19-point lead back in January.

In a new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll, Clinton is leading Bernie Sanders by nine points, 53 percent to 44 percent. Back in February, she was ahead by 11 points.

As they wait for tonight's results, both candidates are looking at next Tuesday's big races, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Illinois. Later tonight, Hillary Clinton will be speaking at a rally in Cleveland.

Our senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, is already there for us. Jeff, give us the latest.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Secretary Clinton will be flying here to Cleveland, the next stop. But I can tell you, all eyes of her campaign are on Michigan right now. At this very hour. Her aides and her strategists are trying to get out that vote in key precincts in Detroit, in Ann Arbor, in Flint, other places. They believe this is a close race. They are trying to extract all the Democrats out there who would be her supporters that they need all of their support tonight. [17:30:29] It's one of the reasons that that auto industry bailout

became such an interesting issue the past 24 hours or so. They really believe that Senator Sanders is making some gains here. So the Clinton campaign is not taking anything for granted here, Wolf, in these final few hours before the polls close.

BLITZER: How important, Jeff, is it for Hillary Clinton to win in Michigan tonight?

ZELENY: Wolf, we talked so much how this is a fight for delegates. It is a mathematical fight, no question. Michigan, 130 delegates tonight. But it is a symbolic importance, as well. She certainly can go on if she doesn't win Michigan tonight, but that would give Bernie Sanders so much license to keep going so much farther.

So Michigan is an important win for her. If she wins there, and wins decisively, that begins to amplify the argument that it may be time to turn the corner in this race here. That's why the Clinton campaign believes Michigan is so, so important tonight, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jeff, thank you. Jeff Zeleny reporting.

Bernie Sanders is campaigning in Florida tonight. In about 90 minutes, he'll be speaking at a rally in Miami. Our senior political correspondent, Brianna Keilar, is on the scene for us with the latest on the Bernie Sanders campaign.

Brianna, Mississippi and Michigan, they're voting tonight. So why is Bernie Sanders already in Florida?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it Could be because Hillary Clinton has an advantage in Mississippi and Michigan. It's not as much of an advantage -- and I've heard this from both campaigns -- as maybe polls indicate, being here in Florida allows him to push towards March 15 contests, a series of contests that are going to be so important, Florida voters heading to the primaries next Tuesday. And it also makes sense. It puts him in place for the Univision debate, which will be taking place tomorrow and will be simulcast on CNN.

BLITZER: I understand, Brianna, that Bernie Sanders is filing a lawsuit in Ohio because of a change to voting laws there. What can you tell us about this?

KEILAR: yes, that's right, Wolf. He's taking issue with something that the secretary of state there did. He's a Republican, the man, the secretary of state in Ohio. It used to be that, if you were 17 during the primary, you could vote; if you were going to be 18 years old during the general election. Well, the secretary of state changed that so that you have to be 18 during the primary to vote.

Obviously, this impacts Bernie Sanders, because he is getting so much support from young voters. He wants as many young voters as possible. He filed this lawsuit saying that it is a violation of Ohio voting laws. He says it's a denial of due process. And his campaign manager saying that this is an effort to disenfranchise Democratic voters and especially Bernie Sanders voters -- Anderson.

COOPER: Brianna, note: tomorrow night, you can watch Univision's Democratic debate in Miami, live right here on CNN, 9 p.m. Eastern. We, of course, are going to be simulcasting it right after "360" starting at 8. We'll also have a full line-up of post-debate coverage. We hope you join us for that.

Just ahead, David Chalian is starting to get some more exit poll information gauging the mood of the electorate. The results next.


[17:38:03] BLITZER: Showing you live pictures right now at these live campaign events. John Kasich campaigning in his home state of Ohio. Senator Rubio in his home state of Florida right now.

Both Florida and Ohio, they have their primaries a week from today. As we've been seeing all afternoon, the campaigns are already looking ahead to those big winner-take-all contests coming up, both of those states next Tuesday.

Meantime, there's more breaking news. At the end of a very, very voting day, we've just received another batch of exit polling information. New information about who's voting and why.

Crunching all of the numbers, the data for us, David Chalian, our political director. It fascinating. We're getting insight into who's showing up and what their motivations are.

CHALIAN: Exactly. And now we're going to talk about the Democratic side. And again, two different kinds of electorates. Take a look at this when it comes to race.

In Mississippi today, in the Democratic primary there, 34 percent are white; 61 percent are black voters. That is a majority black electorate down there in Mississippi, which should bode well for Hillary Clinton if she continues to perform well with African-American voters, as she does.

Compare that to Michigan, though. That is a much more white electorate. There, 69 percent of the electorate is white; 22 percent of the electorate is black.

Take a look here about whether or not these Democratic voters wanted to continue Barack Obama's policies. In Mississippi, 72 percent say they do want to continue Obama's policies. Only 20 percent say they want to be more liberal than Obama's policies.

Compared to Michigan, where it's 52 percent say they want to continue Barack Obama's policies; 29 percent want to -- say they want a more liberal direction.

Wolf, if you're in the Sanders' campaign and you look at these two states, you see, just there, that Michigan may be more hospitable ground for you than Mississippi, which seems to have the kind of demographic, huge support for Obama's policies, huge African-American vote that we saw Hillary Clinton do very well with all throughout the South.

BLITZER: Starting in South Carolina. She did really well, similar demographics there.

CHALIAN: That's right.

[17:40:07] BLITZER: David Chalian, go crunch some more numbers.


COOPER: Wolf, David, thanks very much.

Back with our panel. John, certainly, on paper, Mississippi would look very good for Hillary Clinton, given her strong support in the African-American community.

KING: Absolutely. The demographics of that election, if you look at the states in the neighborhood over the last several weeks, say Hillary Clinton is going to win and win by a sizable margin. If she does not, that would be a surprise.

I just want to come up here for a minute. We get in the weeds of these campaigns...

COOPER: You mean Michigan.

KING: If you look -- that's good. If you look at David Chalian just said, in both states, if you add up the numbers, 90 percent plus said -- Democrats said they want to either continue Barack Obama's policy or get more liberal.

The Democratic Party -- we know where the Democratic Party is ending up at the end of this race:, more to the left. The Republican Party we don't know where it's going to end up, because it's in the middle of chaos right now.

But for Hillary Clinton this has to be an interesting time. I remember covering her husband's campaign. I remember him standing in Flint, Michigan, explaining his views on free trade to very skeptical union workers and saying "compete and win" was the phrase they came up with. It was well-focused grouped by Stan Greenberg, who was his pollster, who did a lot of the groundbreaking work on Reagan Democrats.

Bill Clinton stood there and took a lot of flak in 1992, saying, "We have to have these trade deals. We can compete and win."

Now you have the Democratic Party, that we thought that was the new Democratic Party? Forget about it. Obama is to the left of Clinton, and now a lot of people on the Democratic Party, including Hillary Clinton, are saying we should move a little bit left of Barack Obama.

BORGER: And now, on the Republican side, you know, trade also a huge issue going against Republican establishment, who have always been for trade deals. And suddenly in the state of Michigan, you have voters who are saying, "You know what? I don't -- I don't want these trade deals," and that plays into Donald Trump.

COOPER: Bakari Sellers, how much does this hurt, I mean, Hillary Clinton. In a general election, often candidates run one way, you know, for primaries. Once they get the nomination, they try to get a broader electorate. I mean, she's obviously gone further left. Does she maintain that position in a general?

SELLERS: Well, I think it all depends on who she's running against more so than anything else. I think that Donald Trump legitimately changes the map for Democrats. Donald Trump puts in play Pennsylvania. Donald Trump puts in play Ohio. In these states where you have to go in and we have to have this discussion about trade. Ted Cruz does not.

Ted Cruz very fundamentally has the same map as Mitt Romney and John McCain. Ted Cruz gets beat on that map by Hillary Clinton.

So, I think that it all depends on who you run against and where you're playing. But Michigan is going to be a great test, because tonight we will be able to see what type of voters come out for Hillary Clinton, whether or not her message on trade resonates, how she was able to box Bernie Sanders in with the Koch brothers and Ted Cruz, which by which the way, I thought was just a genius debate tactic, and we'll be able to see how she comes out and how she plays with very specific demographics.

BEINART: You think about it, how brilliant was Hillary Clinton. Let's go back to becoming Obama's secretary of state. Think about it now. She is running as the inheritor of the Obama legacy. If you had asked people how well she'd able to do that at the end of 2008, given how bitter that campaign was, given that Obama was running, in some ways, against her husband's legacy, you would have said, "No, no, she can't be that person."

A lot of people at the time didn't see the wisdom of her becoming secretary of state. But it turns out he became politically, de facto, his vice president and, given the fact that Barack Obama is so popular among core base Democratic groups, that has set her up to be able to run as successor, which is the big reason she's beating Bernie Sanders.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It might be brilliant now. It's worth asking whether that was brilliant move for the general election. Because there are a lot of voters in the general electorate who are very upset at Obama. A lot of voters in these particular blue-collar communities where one in five young men are still trying to find jobs, they're unemployed. And there was that poll a few months ago that nearly 90 percent of the electorate fears there's going to be another terrorist attack. There's a real question there whether embedding yourself in the Obama administration, although it might be far down...

BEINART: I think that's -- I think -- if this was 1992 or 1972, and that kind of electorate, yes. But given the fact that the electorate has become so much more African-American, so much more Latino, Asian and young, trying to replicate the Obama coalition, there are not that many Reagan Democrats left. That's the reality COOPER: We've got to take a short break. We're going to continue

this discussion after the break.

A quick programming note to let you know about. Be sure to tune in this Thursday night for the CNN Republican debate moderated by Jake Tapper. Live from Miami at 8:30 p.m. Eastern.

Just ahead, who has the most to gain and lose tonight? And what Ted Cruz, who's campaigning in North Carolina right now -- you see him there -- has to do from here on out to try to take down Donald Trump. John King will break it down for us by the numbers when we come back.



COOPER: Michigan and Mississippi are the key races to watch tonight for both parties and for different reasons. The stakes are high, of course, for all the candidates, again for different reasons.

John King is at the magic wall to show us why. Let's take a look at the numbers of the Democratic race. How much does Sanders have to prove tonight, John?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He has a lot to prove because Hillary Clinton wants to send a message and she wants to expand the map, Anderson.

Look at delegate race. This is what it's about actually. You win these states to get delegates. 678 to 477 so 201 is her lead. You've got to get way out here to 2383 to clinch. But Hillary Clinton expects to finish this firewall across the south. If they split the delegates roughly this way she could come out with more than that in the split but just giving her a modest split right now. Not only did she won the delegates but she builds this wall across the south, stretches out the lead a little bit.

That's why the Midwestern battleground is so important to Bernie Sanders to sell his economic message. If he can win the state, he'll narrow the map a little bit but that will be important for him. But he also sends a message that he's competitive in the Midwest. If Clinton can win this state, Anderson, not only does she won the south, proving, A, she's getting a lot of delegates, and B, she's running it up with African-American voters. And she can now win in the Midwest, her argument to Senator Sanders will be, I'm beating you down here, I'm starting to beat you in the industrial heartland, you know, I'm going to be the nominee. And she could pull the map like this.

[17:50:05] The Sanders campaign doesn't like this, Anderson, but just lastly she does have in her back pocket the superdelegates. So she can run up the map sum tonight, yes, these delegates only vote if necessary, yes, she wants to win among the pledged delegates. But she does have the momentum. She won't lose them if she keeps winning. So that's why that's important tonight. But even if you take the superdelegates out of it, she hopes to stretch whether the 200- delegate lead now out a little bit more tonight. COOPER: What about the Republican race?

KING: This is a big question on the Republican side. Let's switch over to where we are today. Ted Cruz with those two super Saturday blows to Donald Trump is in the hunt, right? 86 delegates behind right now. He wants to get closer to Donald Trump. He's 86 down to begin the night. He would love to end the night even closer and send the message that he is the alternative. But the race is turning into a part of the country first down here in Mississippi, where Donald Trump has had a lot of success.

If Trump can run it up again down in the south, let's assume Cruz comes in second, Rubio third and Kasich fourth, if Donald Trump -- look at the message that would send, just like Secretary Clinton. But Hawaii and Idaho are still coming in later. We'll wait for those later in the night. Possibility somebody other than Trump can win out there. We'll see what happens.

But the other big battleground is Michigan. This is where Trump wants to prove the point about his economic messages, his appeal to Democrats. If Donald Trump can win here, Kasich wants to come in second. Let's just say that's going to come out that way for now. If Donald Trump does that, look what he starts to do, he starts to pull away again in the race. If Ted Cruz somehow could turn this orange, if Ted Cruz could prove -- let's give Donald Trump second -- that he could play up here in the Midwest, that would be a defining moment in the race, that would change the race.

But, Anderson, after taking the blows on Super Saturday, if Donald Trump can come out of this with a map that looks like this, I'm winning in the south, I'm winning in New England, I won out west, now I'm winning in the industrial heartland, he would have the message of that, the power of that message and he would have improving math. After a tough weekend, he wants to show he's resurgent.

COOPER: Yes. John King -- John, thanks so much.

Mary Katherine, you know, every one of these nights we kind of keep thinking, well, there's going to some more clarity at the end of the night. Do you expect there to be more clarity?

HAM: No clarity. No. I think you have a situation -- actually one of the data points that David brought up from the exit polling where you have Michigan looking like a less angry state, a little bit more like a Virginia in angry versus dissatisfied versus an Alabama. I think that's an interesting point because you saw Rubio close the gap on Trump who had double-digit leads. I think in Michigan you may see Kasich close that gap and who knows if he actually makes it far enough to close it completely.

I think Cruz will still have an argument. I think Rubio says, I'm going to Florida no matter what. And you don't get clarity tonight. You may get clarity next week.

MCENANY: But the angry or dissatisfied number, it is still in the 80s, that is extraordinarily high. COOPER: Right.

MCENANY: And we saw the same kind of numbers in the South Carolina and Nevada. And we saw Trump command this very different electorate. And the one unifying number in all of this is that anger and that dissatisfaction with the establishment, with the narrow minded conservative views of someone like Ted Cruz who shut down the government.

You know, Trump has come in and really just brought in that platform on trade, non-interventionism. He's really upended the party both the establishment and the party platform and that anger is really fueling that rise. Whether it continues tonight we'll see. But I suspect if he wins in Mississippi and Michigan, it lends more to this narrative of what's happening.

HAM: But I think there is a slight differentiation between the dissatisfied and the anger when you look at these exit polling.

COOPER: You think there is?

HAM: I think there is a slight differentiation. And it does matter in these -- the types of electorate you're dealing with. Virginia versus an Alabama.

SELLERS: But none of these electorates are conducive to Marco Rubio. Marco Rubio officially is a candidate without a strategy. I mean, I was listening earlier to his spokesperson talk earlier today and it -- we began this discussion of where can Marco Rubio win? Marco Rubio's strategy now goes from Minnesota to Puerto Rico to Idaho to Hawaii. And I haven't been around that long, but I'm not sure who dictates path to the presidency.

Marco Rubio comes in fourth tonight in Mississippi and fourth in Michigan, I know he wants to go to Florida, but for all intents and purposes, Marco Rubio is done. Marco Rubio needs to start worrying about whether or not he can be governor of Florida or a have a future in the Republican Party.

COOPER: There's a new I think "Wall Street Journal" poll out just like Jeff saw --

SELLERS: And he's running behind Kasich.

COOPER: Right. Kasich is now a couple of points ahead of him on a national level.

BEINART: Had an interesting question of whether Rubio -- you know, remember going back to Iowa, Rubio really tried to run to the right. He really tried to appeal to more conservative evangelical voters. In retrospect, you wonder might he have been better off actually playing as the somewhat moderate candidate, playing in the moderate -- he's actually allowed John Kasich to basically steal that from him.

COOPER: John -- David? GERGEN: I think the Republican race is much more fluid tonight than

it has been over the last two, three weeks. It's not only that these assaults on Trump by the media as well as by his opponents are taking their toll --

COOPER: You think they are taking their toll?

GERGEN: Yes, I do. And you wouldn't see this closing. And he's down to a three-point lead nationally in "The Wall Street Journal"/NBC poll. But the other part of this is he may be becoming boring. You know, he's so repetitious.


GERGEN: We've heard it --


MCENANY: I'm telling you the worst thing you can have --

KING: He said we'd get tired of winning. Right?


GERGEN: You know this. The worst thing that can happen in theater is you get bored.

COOPER: Right.

GERGEN: And there's nothing new that he's saying. He's got to have something --

BEINART: Don't dare him, please.



[17:55:01] COOPER: Interesting point, though, I mean, because you see his speeches. I mean, he's still talking about his hands.

GERGEN: Exactly.

COOPER: I mean, for several minutes each time. You know, and Carl Icahn and a lot of stuff which he's been talking about. It's slim on policy, details of policy and long on storytelling and a lot of the stories we've heard.

GERGEN: Exactly. And look how Hillary went into this last debate with Bernie and sprung that auto bailout and changed the story.

COOPER: Right.

GERGEN: Change the argument.

BORGER: And also the message, I mean, you call it boring, well, the message is muddled. It's not clear. The notion that he's not a real conservative may be taking hold. And one of the things I'm going to look at tonight is in these states how Trump does with self-identified conservative or very conservative voters. He's done well with them in the past.

COOPER: And also late deciders, again, another thing to look for tonight.

BORGER: Exactly. Exactly.

COOPER: I want to thank our panel. We got a lot more, plenty more to come as we countdown to closing time in Super Tuesday round two and the candidates hit the road campaigning hard to win round three next week.

We'll have the latest from polling stations, more exit poll data, and late developments from all our CNN correspondents in the field. Stick around. We'll be right back.