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Super Tuesday; High Stakes: 14 States Voting In Democratic Primaries; Soon: Polls Close In Vermont And Virginia. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired March 3, 2020 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[18:00:45]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: It's decision day for voters in Super Tuesday states.

These are live pictures from a polling place in Nashville, Tennessee, right now, on the biggest presidential primary night yet.

We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in the CNN Election Center.

We're about an hour away from the first votes of the night and our first chance to project winners.

This is a make-or-break moment for the remaining Democratic candidates after three dropouts in the last 72 hours. Fourteen states are holding primaries across the country right now. Here's a road map of what's ahead and what's at stake.

At 7:00 Eastern, polls close in Virginia and Vermont. A half-hour later, we will look for results from North Carolina. At 8:00 Eastern, voting ends in Oklahoma, Tennessee, Alabama, Massachusetts, and Maine.

At 8:30, the spotlight is on Arkansas. At 9:00 Eastern, all polls close in Texas, Colorado, and Minnesota. Texas has the second biggest batch of delegates tonight.

An hour later, the focus is on Utah. And at 11:00 Eastern, the biggest prize of all, California. It has more delegates than any other state in the country.

A total of 1,344 delegates are up for grabs on this one night. That's about one-third of all of the delegates at stake in the entire primary season.

Jake, those delegates are why Super Tuesday matters so much.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: That's right, Wolf, and because, after all, it is a numbers game.

The candidates are competing for delegates in these coming hours, and this will be more of a head-to-head showdown between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden than we have seen today, now that the field has winnowed and Biden has some momentum. Sanders is expected to perform strongest in the West and in the

Northeast, while Biden, we think, could rack up delegates across the South. Michael Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren are fighting to trip up those two leaders and pick off delegates.

The fate of their campaigns could hinge on what happens tonight. We have correspondents and cameras in place covering the candidates on this huge Super Tuesday night.

Let's check in with Ryan Nobles. He's covering the Sanders campaign -- Ryan.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, you mentioned Elizabeth Warren's role in this campaign tonight and exactly what her future holds.

And while we have seen the moderate candidates in this race start to drop out and get behind Joe Biden, at no point should we expect that to happen on the progressive wing of the party, with Elizabeth Warren getting behind Bernie Sanders, at least not from the Sanders campaign's perspective.

Their campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, telling me that at no point will Bernie Sanders reach out to Elizabeth Warren and encourage her to drop out and endorse him. They believe that Sanders -- or that Elizabeth Warren has that decision to make for herself, that she's run a very aggressive campaign, has raised a lot of money, and has earned a lot of votes, and she deserves the time and space to make that decision for herself.

Now, there is perhaps an advantage to Bernie Sanders for Elizabeth Warren to get out of this race, because they do both occupy the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. And as more of these moderates get behind Joe Biden, there is an argument to be made that, if Elizabeth Warren wants to see a progressive in the White House, that the time may be coming for her to get behind Sanders' campaign.

At this point, the Sanders campaign taking no action to hasten that reality. Instead, they're going to allow Warren to play things out, see how things go tonight, and that the decision will ultimately be up to her -- Jake.

TAPPER: That's right. We still don't know. She might have her campaign be given a new life this evening, perhaps.

Let's go with Arlette Saenz. She's with the Biden campaign in California -- Arlette.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Jake, Joe Biden has been outraised and outspent throughout this campaign by many of his rivals, but the campaign is hoping that this recent influx of cash that they're seeing since that victory in South Carolina will help boost them in other states.

And one network of donors that the Biden campaign is hoping to tap into is those donors who supported President Obama's bids back in 2008 and 2012. I spoke with Rufus Gifford, who's a member of the Finance Committee, who actually was the finance director for President Obama's reelection campaign back in 2012.

And he told me that his goal is to bring team Obama back together. He sends an e-mail yesterday to that network of donors, roughly 500 bundlers and top donors, telling them that it's time that they have Joe Biden's back in hands and all hands on deck at this moment.

[18:05:15]

Now, the Biden campaign saw a big boost in online fund-raising over the weekend, raising roughly $11 million over the course of two days. Those were the two biggest online fund-raising days for Joe Biden over the course of this campaign.

And they also got a little bit of help from Pete Buttigieg, his rival, now turned endorser, who e-mailed his fund-raising list asking his supporters to donate to Joe Biden, so the Biden campaign hoping to capitalize a bit and boost themselves in this money race as well -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Arlette Saenz with the Biden campaign in California.

Let's go now to David Chalian, who has some more exit poll results.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: That's right, Jake.

We're asking folks which quality in the candidate mattered most to them. What were they looking for in these candidates? Just a couple of Super Tuesday states, for an example.

Up in Maine, take a look, 44 percent say they're looking for someone that can bring needed change, far and away the top candidate quality; 31 percent say unite the country. Cares about people like me down at 16 percent, and a fighter is down at 8 percent.

Look down South in Alabama. You see can bring needed change is still up top there, this time with 33 percent. It's tied with can unite the country, folks looking for a uniter, the empathy factor, cares about people like me, 27 percent. And 3 percent say they're looking for a fighter.

I will just say I have looked across all the exit polls in all the states so far today. And, again, these are early and these numbers will change. But at this moment in time, can bring needed change, Jake, is either tied for the top quality or is the top quality.

This is an electorate across the country tonight looking for a change agent -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, David Chalian, thanks so much.

And, of course, subject to interpretation, because every single person running for office promises change, including those like Senator -- President Trump. President Trump will say he wants to continue changing Washington.

What does it mean? I mean, Joe Biden is saying that he -- voters don't want a revolution. They want results. Bernie Sanders is actually talking about a revolution. Both of those men are promising change.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And as we talk about that, let's look at Joe Biden in his famous aviators. I think he's at an ice cream shop in Los Angeles, California.

TAPPER: Yes, Mayor Garcetti is right to him.

BASH: And Mayor Garcetti, who has been -- should we listen in? Let's listen for a second.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: So they're getting ice cream in Los Angeles.

One of the questions, as we talk about the exit poll that David was talking about, but also focus on what we just saw, California, is, how much will the momentum that Joe Biden has clearly gotten not just by the big win in South Carolina, but by his two main competitors in his moderate lane supporting him, how much will that have an effect on voters in California, the biggest delegate haul by far of the night?

Part of the issue is that a lot of people voted beforehand when those other people were on the ballot. But he has been out working extremely hard with surrogates, important surrogates, like Mayor Garcetti in California, particularly in the urban centers, where he is hoping that those are the kind of voters that can boost his support.

He might not win there. But again, in California, just like across the country in all of these Super Tuesday states, winning is important, but the number of delegates, every campaign says it is all a delegate game. Having the W. on the board is important, but it's really about the numbers.

TAPPER: That's right. In New Hampshire, for example, Senator Sanders won the New Hampshire primary, but Pete Buttigieg was right behind him. And they both walked out of the Granite State with nine delegates apiece, I believe.

BASH: Right.

TAPPER: Wolf Blitzer, back to you.

BLITZER: All right, thanks very much.

As we get closer and closer to the first votes of the night, we're getting a glimpse at how race and ideology may be influencing the results.

More exit polls right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:14:12]

BLITZER: Welcome back to our special coverage.

David Chalian is getting some more exit poll information, this time, David, race and ideology.

CHALIAN: Yes.

And we're digging into some exit polls from states. We didn't do so earlier. Now that we're moving across the country to the West, take a look at Texas here, Wolf. You see that the electorate is 44 percent white in Texas tonight, 20 percent African-American, 32 percent Hispanic.

You see that it is a majority-minority electorate. This is the kind of electorate that Joe Biden has been seeking, but Bernie Sanders strength' with the Hispanic vote will be a factor here as well. This will be fascinating to watch and play out.

Look at Minnesota, the racial breakdown entirely different, as you might imagine. It is a state that is 87 percent white, overwhelmingly white, the state of Minnesota. We saw Joe Biden didn't perform so well in states like New Hampshire and Iowa that look like this.

[18:15:05]

We will see if his momentum helps him more in Minnesota tonight. And, ideologically, take a look at Texas. This is really interesting; 24 percent of the electorate down in Texas calls themselves very liberal. But look at the other end of the spectrum.

If you add the moderates and the conservatives, 41 percent of the electorate conservative or moderate. That's a significant chunk inside the Democratic primary. Compare that to Minnesota. You will see an entirely different ideological makeup; 26 percent say very liberal, but 42 percent call themselves somewhat liberal.

Down here, it's only 33 percent combined that call themselves moderate and conservative -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Interesting numbers, indeed. All right, David, thanks very much.

John King, we're taking -- let's take a closer look at Texas right now, the makeup there.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And what David just talked about is one of the fascinating elements of Super Tuesday.

We get into more states, and we get into much more diversity, right, South Carolina and Nevada, the first two states with diversity. In these other states, you get more of a combination. Nevada, the Latino vote was huge with a smaller slice of African-Americans. In South Carolina, it was the African-American vote.

David just talked about the majority-minority districts, right -- the electorate, I mean, that you had a majority-minority electorate. Look at these -- highlighted here are counties that are majority-minority, meaning a majority of people, African-Americans, Latinos, other ethnic groups.

Look how many of them there are in the state of Texas. It's an incredibly diverse electorate. You can move over here, another state tonight, the last state we will get to when we move West is California.

Again, look at all the majority-minority counties in the state of California, an incredibly rich, diverse electorate voting on this biggest night of the Democratic primary.

I want to pull you back out to the map and show you another way to look at this. Let's turn this off and look at it -- we can look at it constituency by constituency. If you want to look at the African- American population by county across the United States of America, slide this over, so you can see it.

You see the big band here, right? What do you have here in this band? Well, you have a lot of Super Tuesday states tonight, where African- Americans will matter, and matter big, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama.

Joe Biden is counting very much, East Coast states, to get off to a good start in the night, as we move from the East toward the West. African-American, you see some as we move further. You see some in Texas, a little bit in California.

But when you move to California, that's where -- let's turn this one off, and bring it here to Latino population by county. Let me bring this in and get rid of the red lines for you. Then you're moving. Whoop. There we go. Look at this.

Latino population by county. The darker the shading, the higher the population in those counties. In the state of Texas, in the state of California, the Latino population is giant, and Bernie Sanders has worked it incredibly hard.

So that's one of the more fascinating dynamics as we go through the night. Here's one other way to look at it. If you look at it this way, if you want to see what we believe to be a competition, right, heading in, Bernie Sanders has an advantage among Latino voters. Joe Biden has a significant advantage among African-American voters.

Over this side of the map, this is your African-American belt right across here, again, Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, a bit of Oklahoma, this here, the states where Joe Biden is hoping to make a statement today.

The darker green over here, this is your Latino side of the map, Texas, California, even a little bit in Utah. This is where Bernie Sanders is trying to make his dash on the map. So, you have the most diverse electorate right now.

When you go from coast to coast for a 14-state Democratic primary, rich -- the rich diversity of the Democratic Party at stake tonight, and a key piece of the competition, especially between Sanders and Biden. But we will watch and see where other candidates might cut in as well.

BLITZER: Polls close in Virginia at the top of the hour, North Carolina at 7:30 Eastern.

If you're Joe Biden, what are you looking for?

KING: So let me clear this out and look at the map here.

Number one, you're hoping for what he calls Joe-mentum, which means you just won big right here, South Carolina. Well, look at the neighborhood. Blank that out. Look at the neighborhood around it, right?

These gray states, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, he hopes it extends across to Arkansas and Oklahoma. But these are areas right here where you know there's a significant African-American vote in the Democratic primary constituency.

You're hoping to get it. You're also hoping -- Mayor Buttigieg, for example, had some decent support in Virginia. You're hoping that endorsement helps you with those voters as well. You're hoping to make a statement early on.

One of the most interesting things is, remember, Joe Biden did not have a lot of money before that South Carolina win. So he is not as invested in some of these other states. If you come down and look at it this way, these are Joe Biden's ads in Super Tuesday states.

Now, it looks like he's in a lot of places. But, A, a lot of that money came in late, and, B, it's a very modest amount of money, right? So Joe Biden is hoping that the free media, the bounce out of South Carolina carries him tonight, because he did not actually put all that much television in to these states.

You want to take a different perspective, look at Michael Bloomberg. Right? You're going to see the same states, $235 million right there. So can Joe Biden's momentum and a couple of million dollars combat Michael Bloomberg, who hasn't been on the ballot until today and more than $200 million, more than $235 million?

Bloomberg has been on the air with a high buy level in every single state. Where's the competition against that? Let's come back out and take a look at this. Doesn't want to come back out for me. There we go.

Bernie Sanders, that -- in a campaign, we'd say that's a healthy investment right there by Bernie Sanders, $18 million, $19 million. Bloomberg has just blown it away. Tom Steyer, before he dropped out, was blowing that away.

[18:20:08]

But Sanders is competitive on television just pretty much across the Super Tuesday board. And one other factor tonight, we talked about the Bloomberg, potential Bloomberg effect. Elizabeth Warren is zero for four, zero for four.

She needs to make a statement tonight. If you look here, her home state of Massachusetts, she hopes to be competitive in New England up in Maine. Vermont is the Sanders state. We're not worrying about that.

But is there anywhere else on this map where Elizabeth Warren -- her strength is in the suburbs. Her seeing is with college-educated voters. Is there anywhere else on this map where her spending either gets her a win or part of her strategy -- you see the heavy spending here in Colorado, the suburbs outside Denver, Texas as well.

Hoping to pick up some delegates in congressional districts. Again, we're about to start counting votes. About to put all these strategies to the test.

BLITZER: In the next few hours, we will know a lot more. John, good work.

We're following the voting all across the country on this Super Tuesday. We're learning how voters are reacting to the millions being spent on campaign ads.

Much more of our special coverage just right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:25:42]

BLITZER: David Chalian is getting some more fascinating information on the exit poll information.

I understand that, David, you got some new details about how voters feel about all the money that's being spent.

CHALIAN: That's right, Wolf.

In a few of the states today, we asked voters, do you think it's fair or unfair for a candidate to spend unlimited amounts of their own money? I guess you can call it the Michael Bloomberg question, obviously.

Take a look in Texas; 50 percent of the electorate says it's fair, spend unlimited amounts your money. But 47 percent, roughly a split half and half, says, it's unfair. Similar story in Tennessee.

All these states, Michael Bloomberg advertised a lot in; 46 percent call it fair in Tennessee, 49 percent call it unfair. And in North Carolina, look at this. A majority. 53 percent, say it is unfair for somebody to spend unlimited amounts of their own money; 44 percent call it fair -- Anderson, over to you.

COOPER: David Chalian, thanks very much.

One thing that is interesting -- that is interesting about Michael Bloomberg, Michael Smerconish, is that, I mean, he's saying he's going to give all his resources to whoever the nominee is.

That's less impactful if he's waiting until a brokered convention to kind of try to get a last-ditch effort at actually being the nominee.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Kind of a stunning thought to envision him potentially keeping that apparatus in place, paying those folks through the end of the calendar year for Bernie Sanders.

And yet he has said that he will do so. And I watched him last night when he was questioned as to whether he would indeed vote for Bernie Sanders. And he maintains that he would do so.

Related to that, I'm interested to see what happens with regard to Elizabeth Warren. She's not had a strong, meaning top two, finish in any state thus far. And I wonder whether she will feel an allegiance to a very progressive agenda, the way that Mayor Pete and Amy Klobuchar, I would argue, did to a more moderate agenda.

She seems in synch on issues and ideology with Bernie, but I don't know if there's any love lost there, despite what they may say. I'm mindful of that debate where essentially each call the other a liar. And if she doesn't have a strong showing tonight, what does she do?

COOPER: Yes.

SMERCONISH: That's one of the top questions I wonder.

COOPER: It's an interesting question, because, I mean, she used to say, I'm with Bernie, talking about Medicare for all. This will be the ultimate test of if he's really with Bernie.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN COMMENTATOR: Yes, but, as we all know, a lot of times during, these races people develop a lot of animosity towards each other. Hillary and Obama did. And then Hillary became his secretary of state.

So people can get past things if they need to. And I think that the Warren people -- I think we have all heard it. They claim that we're ignoring her and she's been kind of like written out of the race. And so I think that she has to do something to really show that she is in the race, and that she can win.

COOPER: Like win something?

POWERS: Well, she needs to win.

But, also, the other thing is, I think there's this assumption that the Klobuchar votes or the Buttigieg votes are going to go to Biden. I don't know that that's true. Some of them may go to Warren.

And so the question is, is -- this is sort of her last stand, right, to see if -- whether she can actually draw some of these votes.

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And you can't underestimate the importance for many women of having an incredibly smart -- POWERS: Exactly.

GRANHOLM: -- great woman in the race. She's the only one left.

I think there are a lot of women who have signed up with her because they want to see a woman president in their lifetime. And her endorsement, I think, therefore, will be very significant, if and when it happens.

MITCH LANDRIEU (D), FORMER MAYOR OF NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA: But, Governor, don't you think -- I mean, first of all, from her hometown, she's wicked smart. And she's tenacious, and she's tough.

And she has indicated that she thinks she has a commitment to young women to show them what they can do. Plus, she's still got money in the bank. So I would be very surprised, no matter what her outcome is tonight, that she doesn't stay in the race --

(CROSSTALK)

LANDRIEU: -- an extended period of time.

ANDREW GILLUM (D), FORMER FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think she should go anywhere.

I think Elizabeth Warren, almost in any matrix, with the exception of some of these winning -- which is the most critical part of this thing -- best debater on the stage, and not just.

I think she's turned in really solid, consistent performances, I would probably put Amy Klobuchar sort of right after her. I mean, the women in this race -- in these races -- and I would add Kamala Harris back into the mix -- have been exceptional.

And it -- I mean, it really does pain me to see that, in 2020, that there are things we may not be able to give voice to on this channel about the way in which women have been so horribly disqualified in this process, looked over, people writing op-eds, saying, the women are the ones that ought to drop out first, when, even prior to those op-eds being written, it was the men, including Joe Biden, who were doing worst than than the women.

[18:30:12]

And so it's the American way, but we've got to work real hard.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I just -- I want to sit here and just wave my hands as the Kamala Harris supporter on the panel. I remember, you know, being in-- reading this -- the political articles, in The New York Times articles that were burying her while she was still alive. And I think that what we've seen is that although we have the most diverse field in the history of any party in the country, we've still have a long ways to go.

And Kirsten talks about it better than anyone that I sit up here with, because we always go to this discussion about electability, and how electability in this country means old white men. So now your choices are, you know, do you want the 78 years old white man, 77-year-old white man. I mean, but they don't give the same benefit of the doubt to women who are running these same races.

But I will disagree with my three colleagues to the left, I mean --

GILLUM: To the left of you.

SELLERS: That might benefit me in South Carolina on Super Tuesday. But I think it's going to be impractical for her not to win at least Massachusetts tonight and keep going.

That doesn't mean I'm saying that she doesn't belong on the stage or she doesn't have a voice that should be on the stage. I just think that as you run these races, you know what dries up, the money dries up. And if you can't show that you win that --

JESS MCINTOSH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But she's going to be amassing delegates along the way.

(CROSSTALKS)

SELLERS: I'm not saying she should leave, I'm saying it's impractical for her to continue, but we'll find out.

CHRIS CILIZZA, CNN POLITICS EDITOR AT LARGE: The only thing I'll say, and I don't think that this irk is going to happen for her, but you and I know have sat here, and you look at Joe Biden on February 3rd and then February 11th, and even February 22nd, where Bernie Sanders wins by 30, 25, I would not -- you would, you were right, I was wrong. But I would not have said, Joe Biden, yes, he's going to be the Bernie alternative.

So there is value to some extent in waiting it out a little bit --

SELLERS: If you can. If you're Warren and you can sustain it. If you can't, you're going to go in debt. I get all that.

SMERCONISH: It still has. I think what we're all saying is it still has a very unsettled feel to it, frankly, even at the end of the night. It's probably still going to have a very unsettled feel to it, and maybe that what she's hanging in for.

CILLIZZA: The Biden turn is so rapid.

SELLERS: But let me just say this. I mean, I hate -- I don't really hate to hark (ph) on it, but we've got to go back to these states that are going to vote early first. I mean, we have, you know, three southerners on stage. We still welcome you down south any time you want. I'm good.

But I'm just saying, that the south is going to dictate a lot of this process tonight. And if Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and Michael Bloomberg get crushed throughout the south, that says a lot, and regardless. COOPER: In Kirsten, I mean, it may be an unsettled feeling but delegates are delegates. That's not a feeling, it's numbers. And there is some data here. And by the end of tonight, once all the results are in, which may be several days, with California, a lot of delegates are going to be assigned.

POWERS: Yes. I don't think -- I guess -- no, I don't want to be calling on Elizabeth Warren to drop out. That's not what I'm saying. But I think that if you are somebody who cares about the issues that she cares about, when you see what's happening on the moderate lane where people are dropping out basically in an effort to try to help Biden consolidate that vote, we don't know if it will going to work. But that's what they're trying to do.

COOPER: Do you think she would endorse Sanders?

POWERS: Well, I mean, I think that if she does care about the things she cares about, then, yes, that's what would make the most sense.

Now, they're not exactly the same but neither is Buttigieg and Biden exactly the same. So they're more in the same lane. And for her to drop out and endorse him, I think it doesn't mean every single one of her voters goes to him but it would help in that perspective.

SMERCONISH: The data does suggest. A Quinnipiac survey in January showed that 35 percent, a plurality of her supporters would be Bernie people. I'm sure they'd split different ways. The number dropped to 33 percent last month. So it does seem like he has the most to gain, should she, if she doesn't win tonight.

GILLUM: Let me explain why she decided to go after Biden. We were talking a little bit earlier why would she have sort of turned her ire toward Vice President Biden and it could be that she's assumed or concluded that maybe there's a cap as it relates to being able being to siphon away Bernie support. And is there another place that she could go, which would also explain some of the increased rhetoric around, I'm the one who could work with the other side, bring people together, be a bridge builder, whether we believe that or not --

COOPER: Would you say another place to go, what do you mean?

GILLUM: Well, I mean -- so, for instance, and I hope that to God that this doesn't happen, but say we do find ourselves toward a brokered convention, she is someone who has respect on the side of strong progressives within the Democratic Party but also with, you know, sort of establishment Democrats, if you will.

[18:35:00]

I think she may have an important role to play in the weeks --

(CROSSTALKS)

LANDRIEU: I'm just reading the tea leaves, I have no idea. I haven't talked to her campaign but we've watched it very closely. I think that Mike Bloomberg is a really good guy and smart but he looks at data and he's going to make a decision based on data.

I think Senator Warren's position is somewhat different and she has money and she thinks she's doing something that serves a very, very large cause. And I think in her mind, based on what she said in the last week, she's staying in it until the end. And if there's a brokered convention, she intends to play a very significant part.

COOPER: Polling place just closed in Virginia, Vermont very soon. We're standing by for the first results of the night and our first chance to project winners. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:40:00]

BLITZER: I want to go to CNN's Amara Walker. she's in Nashville, Tennessee for us right now.

I understand we got some major news. They're keeping the polls open a bit longer, right?

AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. They will be getting at least three more hours here at this polling site at the Cleveland Community Center in East Nashville. So a judge made a quick ruling not that long ago. And that means that voting hours in Davidson County in Tennessee will be extended, not the state, just Davidson County, which includes Nashville.

So five polling sites will remain open until 10:00 P.M. Central, that's 11:00 P.M. Eastern, rather than closing at 7:00 P.M. locally here. And the rest of the polling sites, all of the other polling sites in Davidson County will remain open until 8:00 P.M., so they will be getting an extra hour. That, of course, is 9:00 P.M. Eastern.

So this is the result of a lawsuit that was filed by the Democratic Party of Tennessee with the top Democratic candidates, Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. And so they are hailing this as a victory because they say that people in Tennessee, especially in the Nashville area and east of here have been dealing with this deadly tornado that passed through early this morning and there's a lot of blocked roads, it takes a lot more time to get to their polling sites. People are going to their polling sites realizing that they were damaged in this tornado, and they're calling around to find out where their precincts are.

So the Democratic Party are saying that this was absolutely needed, including the voters here who have been standing in line for two-plus hours. They do welcome the decision. Back to you.

BLITZER: A very important decision indeed and totally understandable, Amara Walker in Nashville, Tennessee for us.

David Chalian, you're looking at more exit polls and we're getting more information on what's on the minds of voters.

CHALIAN: Yes, specifically in Colorado on the issues of healthcare and the economy, Wolf. Taking a deep dive here, healthcare once again the most important issue on voters' minds heading to the polls in Colorado, 36 percent said it's the issue that mattered most, 25 percent climate change, 23 percent income inequality, 7 percent race relations.

The Medicare-for-all question, do you support a government-run program instead of private insurance? In Colorado, a sizable majority, 57 percent support Medicare-for-all, only 36 percent oppose it. And about the economic system in the United States, look at this number. 49 percent, nearly half the electorate in the Democratic Primary in Colorado today says that the American economy needs complete overhaul of the economic system in this country. Now, that is specifically a Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren style message that clearly is resonating with voters in Colorado. Wolf?

COOPER: I'll take it. I look like Wolf. Someday if I -- you know, lucky I can grow a beard, like Smerconish.

We are seeing this state after state. I was just looking, Colorado, so at 57 percent Medicare-for-all, and Maine, it was 72 percent, Massachusetts, 52 percent. I mean, it has become --

GILLUM: It's the issue.

COOPER: It's the issue, yes, no question about it.

GILLUM: And, you know, to take this at another angle because I was -- I lean part into what I think Bernie Sanders supporters are grabbing a hold to, and the cautionary note again, if Joe Biden is going to be on the pathway to becoming the Democratic nominee, I firmly believe that he is going to have to adopt, not change his political necessarily, you know, position, but I think he's going to have -- going to become a lot stronger on speaking to the heartache that exists for a lot of people, not just grief but the economic and the health heartaches that a lot of folks --

COOPER: Because the argument that Sanders has been making, and Buttigieg has pointed this out repeatedly, is that it's either his way or kind of status quo, which is --

LANDRIEU: Look, healthcare is a right. That is our position in the Democratic Party. And the big argument between the Bernie people and the Biden people and the Elizabeth and Pete is which one of us can actually get something done. If you're going to build me a bridge to nowhere, if you're going to try to Evel Knievel the Grand Canyon, we're going to fall off on it, and we're going to lose the House and we're going to lose the Senate, then what have we gotten, because nothing from nothing equals nothing. And so the fight really should be about, you know, how to get there.

I agree with you that whoever the nominee is is obviously going to have to speak to this issue in a very passionate way if the people want to feel like they see them and they feel them.

SELLERS: I disagree with Andrew just one point because I understand the larger -- I think the larger point that we're making is that Joe Biden has to give people a reason to vote for him, not just vote against Donald Trump.

[18:45:07]

GILLUM: I agree with that.

SELLERS: Right? You have to -- as we all know, we have won and lost elections but you have to give some people some reason to come out. It's not just the other guy sucks, right? So, that can't be it.

But I also think that Joe Biden speaks to something that this country is missing right now. It's not just policy and the pragmatism which I also do not believe is incrementalism. I think those are different things but he's also speaking to the fact that we need a change of character in this country.

GRANHOLM: Yes, yes.

SELLERS: And this is a unique time because normally I would say you are correct but with Donald Trump sitting in the White House right now, there are people who want to feel something different and the mayor articulates this a lot, in their heart, and right now, it's a heart issue that Joe Biden, now whether or not that's successful in November I'm not certain, but that's a heart issue.

(CROSSTALK)

GILLUM: But -- we don't -- we actually don't disagree. I agree that Biden has clung to something here, where I think we have not gone far enough, at least in my opinion is one, I don't think he is exhibited, I think, on the issues that are the issues of the day. We keep looking at the polling that's coming out. He's got to give more voice to that because I think the two comparisons are it's either we leave everything as it is, or we go for some revolutionary change.

That's not --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: OK, let's go over to Michael Smerconish --

GILLUM: -- that is not how he is positing it but that's the perception.

SMERCONISH: I want to add a cautionary, though. This is -- this is the Democratic primary. These are the most passionate, aggressive voters.

GILLUM: For sure.

SMERCONISH: And I would think the White House would welcome this fight.

GILLUM: I agree.

SMERCONISH: The fight if, if the Democrats are saying, it's got to be get rid of private insurance and with regard to the economy, complete overhaul, the president wants that kind of dichotomy, that's the sort of fight that he's looking for.

COOPER: Let's not get too in the weeds. In terms of these exit polls, what are -- I mean, from what we have seen so far, from what David Chalian has brought us, what is the day -- the night looking like? I mean, does it lead anywhere?

CILLIZZA: I would say -- I think Mayor Gillum said this earlier, we have seen this largely in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, a little less in South Carolina but if you look at the numbers on things like are you angry, do you think the economic system is sort of fundamentally broken, Medicare-for-All, we can nitpick each of these questions, but it looks like an electorate that should be really good, broadly speaking, for Bernie Sanders.

So, then I think you have to ask the question if today isn't as good for Bernie Sanders, why, and that's less message and more messenger, which does leave an option to your guy's point, it does leave an option for Joe Biden to co-opt some of that.

(CROSSTALK)

CILLIZZA: He's not going to be the nominee without a messenger.

COOPER: Kirsten?

POWERS: I think the reason would be because they think he can beat Donald Trump, because they think he can beat Donald Trump, because they can see that that's the thing -- their number one -- their number one focus is beating Donald Trump, and when you talk to a lot of people, they will say, I really like Bernie but I just don't think he can win.

And so, I think -- but just also this idea about what you were talking about with Biden and the character and the empathy, Bernie has character, Bernie has empathy, he shows it in a different way. He has a very different personality than Joe Biden does, but I think for his supporters, they see a lot of empathy, they see somebody who cares a lot.

COOPER: It's so interesting, when people talk about electability and a couple of candidates have made this point as well is that it seems like everyone has become not just a voter but also a pundit, so people are not only thinking about, oh, this is the person I like. Some people like Sanders, but oh, I'm not sure he's electable, but if they like him, then theoretically he's electable.

POWERS: And they are hearing it from pundits, if you start breaking it down with people, I think they can start thinking about it differently but it has been very much for too long the group think that Bernie Sanders can't win.

CILLIZZA: Just like Donald Trump couldn't win, by the way, if you ask people who is the least electable.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Our special Super Tuesday coverage continues right now.

(MUSIC)

BLITZER: We're closing in right now on the first Super Tuesday results, right at the top of the hour, that's when the polls close in Virginia and Vermont.

A hundred and nineteen delegates are up for grabs it those two states, most of them, most of them in Virginia. It's an early slice of the 1,344 delegates on the line tonight. That's about 1/3 out of all delegates.

Jake, what can we expect in the hour ahead?

TAPPER: Well, that's right, Wolf, we are looking for right now the results, the night is likely to kick off with a win for Bernie Sanders, we're anticipating. Sanders is counting on a victory, of course, in his home state of Vermont. Not big in terms of delegates but, of course, his home state.

That means the first really big test of the night therefore will be the Commonwealth of Virginia. There, Joe Biden is hoping for another strong showing among the strong amount of African-American voters in that state as he had in South Carolina just days ago.

[18:50:02]

We're also going to see for the first time if New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg's big ad spending is paying off in terms of actual delegates.

Let's go to Sanders and Biden headquarters. CNN's Ryan Nobles is covering Bernie Sanders for us -- Ryan.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Jake, there's a lot of voting that has to take place here tonight, but the Bernie Sanders campaign is certainly seeing the writing on the wall. They do envision this as ending up as a two-person race by the end of the night. And to that end, they believe they are ready to take on Joe Biden in a head to head match up as the Democratic primary contest continues.

In fact, the Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir told me that from the very beginning of this campaign, they've been preparing for a Sanders versus Biden match-up. And they actually believe that that presents the best opportunity for Bernie Sanders going forward. In fact, Sanders described Joe Biden as the perfect foil for Bernie Sanders and his campaign.

And he said -- he pointed to the lengthy record that both men have, serving in the Congress for more than two decades and weighing in on some of the biggest issues like the past 20 years like the war in Iraq, the bankruptcy bill, the crime bill, and, of course, just general and economic inequality and issues like that that have come before the Congress.

They believe when you compare those two records, the judgment of the Sanders campaign is preferable to the judgment of Joe Biden at least when presented to primary voters. Of course, that will be tested in a big way here tonight with so many delegates at stake against so many different states. We'll get our first assessment of what people think of that head to head matchup. But, Jake, the Sanders campaign preparing for a long slog between those two candidates in the states that lie ahead heading to the Milwaukee convention -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Ryan. Thank you so much.

Let's go now to Arlette Saenz. She's with the Biden campaign in California -- Arlette.

SAENZ: Well, Jake, going into tonight, the Biden campaign told me they were starting to see signs of hope in Virginia after that wave of endorsements that came his way in the state after that victory in South Carolina. In two specific congressional districts that they pointed me to were the 3rd and 10th congressional districts. Those were represented by Jennifer Wexton and Bobby Scott, the dean of the congressional delegation, a member of the congressional black caucus.

His district is in Norfolk, Virginia, where Biden campaigned on Sunday night. And the Biden campaign believes those endorsements from those members of Congress could be beneficial heading into today's Super Tuesday contest in Virginia.

Now, Biden also picked up the endorsement of Senator Tim Kaine, a very influential Democrat in the state who was Hillary Clinton's running mate back in 2016 and a friend of President Obama, and also former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, who endorsed very soon after South Carolina was called for Joe Biden on Saturday night.

Biden has also picked up the endorsement of Congressman Don Beyer, who was a previous supporter of Pete Buttigieg who threw his support behind Biden after Buttigieg dropped out of the race.

So, there are some signs of hope potentially for Joe Biden in Virginia, his campaign believes when those polls closed at 7:00.

TAPPER: All right. Arlette Saenz with the Biden campaign in California.

Dana Bash, let me ask you, polls are going to close in seven minutes. What are you looking for?

BASH: Well, I'm going to be looking at Virginia at the top of the hour to see how Michael Bloomberg does with African-American voter who is make up a healthy part of Virginia's Democratic electorate. Joe Biden swept the black vote a few days in South Carolina but Bloomberg wasn't on the Biden anywhere until today.

Now, the other question about Virginia is how frontrunner Bernie Sanders does in northern Virginia, the D.C. suburbs, where a healthy number of Democrats in Virginia live. As one Virginia Democratic official pointed out to me, a lot of voters who live there are the establishment. So, are they going to back Sanders or are they going to be spooked by his policies? TAPPER: The polls in Virginia close in just over six minutes and we

will find out.

David Chalian, let me ask you what are you looking for?

CHALIAN: Well, I see a sort of tale of two different states here, Jake, when you look at Virginia and Vermont. Take a look at Virginia and the way Democratic primary voters are feeling about the Trump administration.

You see only 8 percent are enthusiastic. Look down here, 23 percent are dissatisfied, 58 percent are angry -- a majority angry, but not a huge majority.

Take a look in Vermont, just how different that electorate feels about the Trump administration. Seventy-four percent of Democratic primary voters in Vermont are angry about the Trump administration, and then that Medicare-for-All question that has been a defining issue throughout this whole campaign, in Virginia, again, 52 percent of the Democratic electorate today does support Medicare-for-All, a majority but a slim one.

Compare that to Vermont, home state of Senator Bernie Sanders, 77 percent of Democratic primary voters in Senator Sanders' home state back his Medicare-for-All proposal -- Wolf.

[18:55:02]

BLITZER: Thanks very much.

Let's take a closer look at the states about to close in Virginia and Vermont, 7:30 North Carolina.

What do you expect?

KING: We expect, number one, Bernie Sanders to begin the night with a win at home in Vermont. We get the early results in in 2020.

Obviously, we have nothing yet, but let's just go back in time to four years ago, remind our voters, this is Bernie Sanders' home state, they love him, Democratic voters especially love him, 86 percent of the vote four years ago. There's no reason to believe that Bernie Sanders won't win and won't win big in Vermont.

The only question is, this was a two-candidate race, did something else get viability? She did not Hillary Clinton did not. Did somebody else get viability above 15 percent, take a delegate or so? Sixteen delegates at stake in Vermont?

That's the only question, does Bernie Sanders get them all or does somebody else compete. Sixteen delegates there.

Let's come back to 2020, and come back down there, a much bigger prize, 99 delegates at stake in the state of Virginia, the commonwealth of Virginia. You look at it play out. Again, it's a fascinating state. You talk about the changing demographics of America, the changing demographics of Democratic Party.

Arlette Saenz was talking about this a little bit earlier. I want to go back in time. Let's go back first to 2016. Hillary Clinton won Virginia and won Virginia pretty big, right? Look at the numbers, 64 percent to 35 percent.

How did she do it? Well, she did it by sweeping up here and she swept a lot of places. But up here in the northern Virginia suburbs is what has so changed the state of Virginia, used to be a red or purple state in presidential politics, now, most people think of it as a blue state of presidential politics, why? Because of the changes. This is the 2016 Democratic presidential primary.

Now I want to come to the 2018 House races here. In 2018, you see the blue district here. This is one of the places Arlette Saenz was just talking about, the district won by the freshman Jennifer Wexton who beat a Republican incumbent. Was this evidence of the suburban revolt against Trumpism?

These suburbs when you get further out from D.C. used to be reliably red. They're becoming more and more Democratic. So, can Joe Biden with her endorsement run it up in the Northern Virginia suburbs? It's a key test for him.

Here's one of the complicating factors as he tries, OK? This is Virginia. Let's come back to 2020. Remember where we just were up here.

This is also a test though of the changing Latino vote. One of the reasons Virginia is changing so much, becoming more blue is the influx of Latinos especially up here in the D.C. suburbs.

So, you have suburban women, a revolt against Trumpism. A establishment endorsement Joe Biden hopes that helps him, Bernie Sanders thinks, I did pretty well with Latinos four years ago. I've worked this community very hard, a good competition, if you will, within the competition right here in northern Virginia suburbs, which is so important to the state.

Other things you want to look for, Wolf, in the state of Virginia. Let's blank this out, come back to the 2020 map.

This is a test. This is absolutely a test for Michael Bloomberg. This is where he lost his campaign, down here in Norfolk. He has made a stake that he can make a play here in Virginia. He has spent a lot of money, we can look at his ads here. He spent a lot of money on advertisements, including in the commonwealth of Virginia here.

And so, as Virginia votes come in, it will be the first test of the night, is all that financial spending by Michael Bloomberg getting him to the point of viability and putting him in play to win a state tonight or at least come away with a big basket of delegates? That is the giant question here.

Let's just come back out for a minute, turn this off and come back to the 2020 map. North Carolina is next. The polls close at 7:30 except, because of one precinct that have problems extended voting for half an hour. The policy is if one precinct is open, you don't report any results. So, most of the polls will close at 7:30, we don't expect to see results from North Carolina until after 8:00 now.

So, you add all this up and you look at it, what do you get? The first three, Vermont, Virginia, and North Carolina beginning the 14-state sweep plus American Samoa. Across the thing, Wolf, more than 1,300 delegates.

Again, Vermont will not be a litmus test of anything. Vermont will be a blowout win for Bernie Sanders. But Virginia will be the first test, was -- is there an African-American vote out of South Carolina, where is the Latino vote there going? Can Michael Bloomberg compete? Virginia is the first battle -- the post-South Carolina battleground. We get to look at the impact of this race.

BLITZER: Ninety-nine delegates in Virginia, 110 in North Carolina, and Vermont only 16.

KING: Right. So, Virginia is the biggest early prize. Then North Carolina is the third biggest prize of the night.

If you just look at the night, we're going to be here a while. We're going to go through this. The top biggest prize is California. We'll be counting that late at night. Brew coffee at home.

Texas which comes in later but we'll get there, another place the Latino vote is huge, 228. North Carolina, 110, and then Virginia at 99. The big prize is here, 1,344 delegates at stake tonight. We'll get a test, a test early on.

And again, the diversity when you come into Virginia is what makes it so interesting. I'll move this out of the way to show you. This is the big test, right?

Joe Biden thinks he can run it up among African-American voters. That's what he did in South Carolina. Here's a big example, to test it right here, you see the deeper the shading, that's the higher percentage of African-American vote. Critical special down here in the Norfolk, Virginia Beach area.

But Bernie Sanders is competing very hard among Latino voters. If you take a look here you see especially in the northern part of the state, those Latino pockets, so battlegrounds within the battlegrounds and we'll be counting pretty soon.

BLITZER: We certainly will.