Good morning from ATLANTA, where I’m in the fifth day of my road trip through the South ahead of the SEC Primary.
THE BIG IDEA:
-- Hillary Clinton’s firewall in the South turns out to be quite durable.
Not only did black voters make up a greater share of the electorate in South Carolina’s Democratic primary than they did eight years ago, but preliminary network exit polls show that Clinton actually won the crucial constituency by a slightly wider margin on Saturday than Barack Obama did in 2008.
More than six in 10 voters yesterday were African American. Among them, Clinton led Bernie Sanders 86 percent to 14 percent, according to the exits. For context, the first black president beat Clinton 78 percent to 19 percent among South Carolina blacks during their face off.
It is sweet vindication for Hillary. She lost South Carolina to Obama by 29 points in 2008 and beat Sanders there yesterday by 47.5 points (with 100 percent of precincts now reporting). Then-Senator Obama’s victory in the Palmetto state gave him the advantage among pledged delegates. While the race dragged on for five more months, and she won big states at big moments, he would never again trail in the pledged delegate count.
Donella Wilson, who is 106, voted for Hillary because she loves the idea of seeing the first black president and the first woman president in her lifetime:
-- White liberals do not a winning coalition make: Hillary will very likely win all the states with large black or brown populations. Bernie will win a bunch, but by no means all, of the states that are overwhelmingly white. (Hillary actually carried whites 54-46 in the South Carolina). Game it out, and factor in the establishment-minded super delegates, and Clinton now appears virtually certain to become the Democratic nominee.
-- Non-white voters will account for more than 40 percent of Democrats who vote in the 11 contests on Tuesday.
- Black voters could be determinative in six Southern states that day: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. (It’s not like South Carolina was an outlier: she won black voters by 54 points in the Nevada caucuses.)
- Sanders’ strategists thinks he can win in five of the 11 states that vote Tuesday: Minnesota, Massachusetts, Vermont, Oklahoma and Colorado. Minorities will make up a relatively small percentage of the electorate in all but one of them.
- Texas, the biggest delegate prize on Tuesday, will be a telling window into how much traction Sanders has gotten among Hispanic voters. His campaign is adamant that they won Latinos in Nevada last weekend; the Clinton team is just as adamant that the entrance polls were wrong. Texas, where Clinton beat Obama 51-47 in 2008, will tell us who is right.
-- Noting the aforementioned dynamics, many pundits basically began calling the race for Clinton last night:
SC results are very clear, absent Sanders dramatically expanding his base on Super Tuesday, the Dem nomination fight is over on Wednesday AM— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) February 28, 2016
The host of "Meet the Press" called Clinton's numbers "astonishing" and "Obama-esque":
Clinton now has new challenge if Super Tuesday looks like tonight: beating Sanders without alienating his supporters.— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) February 28, 2016
It may be that this is the week Hillary Clinton basically wraps up the Democratic nomination and nobody notices because Trump!— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) February 27, 2016
It's a mistake to conflate demography with momentum. and/but - Hillary has both on her side now.— Rick Klein (@rickklein) February 28, 2016
Bernie's path to the nomination is very brambled.— Annie Karni (@anniekarni) February 28, 2016
-- Sanders may have spent relatively little time on the ground over the past week, but his campaign invested quite heavily in the Palmetto State: He had about 200 field staffers, opened 11 offices and spent $1.7 million on TV and radio ads. His team hoped to exceed low expectations; instead, they underperformed them. They will not be able to put these kinds of resources into any of the upcoming states.
-- Hillary anchoring herself to the president is paying dividends: Seven in 10 South Carolina Democratic voters said they want the next president to continue Obama’s policies, rather than pursue a more liberal agenda. “We’ve made a lot of progress in the last eight years, and Hillary is the best person out there to continue the progress,” Al Tucker, a 67-year-old African American, told one of my colleagues in Columbia. The Atlantic’s Molly Ball, who spoke with dozens of voters around South Carolina over the past week, argues that “a sense of familiarity” was another key factor that drove African Americans to Clinton. “They’d heard of Sanders and heard his ads, but didn’t feel they knew him personally,” she relays.
-- The youth vote did not come through for Sanders this time. Clinton actually won black voters under 45 by a three-to-one margin, and there were not that many white voters under 45. Voters under 30 made up a smaller share of the electorate in South Carolina (about one-sixth) than any of the first three states.
-- South Carolina Democrats were less liberal than their counterparts in Iowa, New Hampshire or Nevada. Only 23 percent described themselves as “very liberal.” And while Sanders won this group by double digits in the first two contests, Clinton it in South Carolina by 40 points.
-- “Hillary crushed Bernie among voters who agree that our economic system favors the wealthy. That's his wheelhouse, and he won only 30 percent of their vote,” Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum notes.
-- Sanders fared best among those who said “honesty” was the most important quality in their vote, but he only tied Clinton among these voters. Clinton did best among those who said their most prized quality was experience and electability. But, in good news for Clinton, about 7 in 10 South Carolina Democrats said they believe her to be honest and trustworthy. (CNN has a nice display of all the exit polling here.)
-- To be clear: Sanders is not ceding the black vote, and the race is not over yet. When I was in Little Rock, I interviewed his Arkansas state director, Sarah Scanlon, about their organizing efforts in Clinton Country. They have two offices in the state, and volunteers have made hundreds of thousands of phone calls. “You have people who have been with the Clintons since Day One and always be,” said Scanlon, who recalled volunteering for Bill Clinton’s gubernatorial campaigns. “And then you have people who are galvanized by Sen. Sanders’ message.” She argued that the delegate allocation rules, which are based on congressional districts, work to their advantage because Sanders is strong in rural areas and on campuses. “Three quarters of the people we’re working with have never been engaged before,” she said. That night, musician Stephen Bishop appeared as a Sanders surrogate at a dinner put on by the Arkansas Democratic Party’s Black Caucus.
-- The latest gender gap: Sanders won white men 56-44. Clinton won white women 60-40, per the exit polling.
-- Last night Hillary, slightly hoarse, signaled that she’s eager to shift her focus from Sanders to Donald Trump. "Tomorrow this campaign goes national," she said during her victory speech.
Clinton now quoting 1 Corinthians 13 calling for more "love and kindness" in American politics.— Abby D. Phillip (@abbydphillip) February 28, 2016
HRC obviously directing these lines at Trump: "Instead of building walls, we need to be tearing down barriers." https://t.co/fP7ocw3Gyb— Monica Alba (@albamonica) February 28, 2016
HRC: "We don’t need to make America great again. America has never stopped being great but we do need to make America whole again."— Monica Alba (@albamonica) February 28, 2016
-- The speech received high marks on cable:
Watch a 2-minute video with the highlights:
-- Sanders, meanwhile, downplayed the significance of the loss. “In politics, on a given night, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Tonight we lost,” Sanders told reporters after getting off his chartered jet in Minnesota. He did not take questions, per John Wagner. In an emailed statement, he said: “We won a decisive victory in New Hampshire. She won a decisive victory in South Carolina.”
"This campaign is listening to the African American community," Sanders said in Minnesota. "And they are asking: how does it happen in this country, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, how does it happen that we have more people in jail than any other country on Earth? ... Together we are going to take on and fight institutional racism and a broken criminal justice system."
Watch a 1-minute video from Sanders' speech (by no means a traditional concession):
CNN’s Jeff Zeleny thought Sanders sounded just like he did when he first got into the race: “Like a protest candidate, who his supporters love, but was unfocused and without a clear rationale for his path going forward. He seemed exhausted, yet delivered [an] hour-long undisciplined speech.”
-- Big picture: Low turnout in each of the four early states is a trend that should worry Democrats. About 365,000 voted yesterday, compared to 532,000 in the 2008 primary. In last week’s Republican primary in South Carolina, nearly 740,000 voted. The GOP has been shattering records in state after state.
|Welcome to the Daily 202, PowerPost's morning newsletter. |
With contributions from Breanne Deppisch (@b_deppy) and Elise Viebeck (@eliseviebeck)
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz released several years of summary pages for their taxes last night, aiming to get Trump to do the same. Both senators are doing pretty well for themselves, though Rubio's income has been more erratic due to revenue from book deals. Joining Mitt Romney, who alleges Trump's returns contain a "bombshell,” the senators have been hounding Trump since Thursday's debate on this issue. Here are top-line takeaways, via Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger and Katie Zezima:
- From 2010 to 2014, Rubio and his wife Jeanette made $2.29 million and paid $526,092 in taxes. Rubio's income ranged from a low of $183,872 in 2010 to a high of $929,439 in 2012.
- Cruz and his wife Heidi made $5.05 million and paid $1.45 million in taxes over the same period. Cruz's income ranged from a low of $970,000 in 2013 to a high of $1.7 million in 2011. His tax rate was between 28.4 percent and 32.2 percent.
- In 2014, the Rubios reported $335,561 in income and paid $78,917 in taxes; the Cruzes reported earning $1.2 million and paying $389,124 in taxes. Both of their incomes include their $174,000 salaries as senators.
- The incomes include the salaries of Jeanette Rubio, who is a paid advisor to Florida auto dealer Norman Braman's charitable foundation (Braman is also a major Rubio donor); and Heidi Cruz, who works for Goldman Sachs.
- In a statement, Cruz said "it is time to stop the excuses" and charged that maybe the real-estate mogul isn't as rich as he claims, or has given money to Planned Parenthood.
-- Trump said at the last debate that he can't release his returns because he's being audited and later suggested that it is because he's a "strong Christian." IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said it would be "rare" to be audited for several years in a row, and that any individual can release their returns. He said religious views are "something that would never cause you to be audited."
-- A Virginia police officer was shot and killed during first day in the line of duty. The Prince William County officer, identified as Ashley Guindon, was responding to a call about a possible domestic matter. Two other officers were wounded, and one suspect has been taken into custody. Guindon had been assigned to patrol duty in the eastern part of the county. She was sworn in on Friday. (Martin Weil, Clarence Williams and Victoria St. Martin)
-- Significant: Kamala Harris won the California Democratic Party endorsement for Senate at a state convention last night. It allows the attorney general to solidify her status as the front-runner over rival Loretta Sanchez in the race to succeed the retiring Barbara Boxer. “Harris captured 78.1% of the votes to earn the state Democrats' official seal of approval,” the Los Angeles Times reports. “It's a prize that provides her with a clear edge in the June 7 primary and, most likely, financial support from the party.”
GET SMART FAST:
- Three people were stabbed and 13 others were arrested at a Ku Klux Klan rally three miles from Disneyland. “A Klansman in handcuffs could be heard telling a police officer that he ‘stabbed him in self-defense,’” the LA Times reports. “Witnesses said the Klansmen used the point of a flagpole as a weapon while fighting with protesters.”
- Iranian reformists are set to win all 30 parliamentary seats in Tehran elections – a huge gain for moderates that signals a loosening of control by anti-Western hardliners. It could open the country to additional trading and investment opportunities. (Reuters)
- The former lover of Bolivian President Evo Morales was arrested as part of a corruption probe involving hundreds of millions of dollars in government contracts. (AP)
- Nine pregnant woman in the United States contracted the Zika virus this year, according to the CDC. Two of them chose to have abortions, two were healthy, and one gave birth to a child with severe microcephaly. (Brady Dennis and Ariana Eunjung Cha)
- Alabama passed a law to ban municipalities from setting higher minimum wages, blocking attempts by the state’s largest city, Birmingham, to impose a $10.10 hourly minimum wage. (Niraj Chokshi)
- Twenty-nine cadets at the Pennsylvania State Police Academy were forced to leave after being ensnarled in a cheating scandal. (Sarah Larimer)
- New small-screen iPhones and iPads will reportedly be released on March 21. (USA Today)
- …And speaking of iPhones: a 12-year-old Virginia student faces criminal charges after threatening her school using a string of emojis. (Justin Jouvenal)
- Warren Buffett said he’s “sick and tired” of presidential candidates making bleak statements about the economy. “For 240 years it’s been a terrible mistake to bet against America,” the Clinton supporter wrote in his annual letter to shareholders. “Now is no time to start.” (Niraj Chokshi)
- A pair of terrorist attacks killed 27 and wounded dozens more in Afghanistan. The Taliban has taken responsibility for both attacks, which were each carried out by suicide bombers. (Mohammad Sharif)
- Two U.S. citizens who were arrested in the UAE on charges of supporting terrorist groups, hope to prove their confessions were coerced by torture when their trial resumes on Monday. International human rights groups have called for the unconditional release of Kamal and Mohamed Eldarat, who were reportedly subject to electric shocks and mock executions in order to coerce confession. (Carol Morello)
- China announced it will send its second space lab into orbit this year, as part of the country’s effort to begin construction of its own space station by 2020. (CNN)
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus urged President Obama to nominate Attorney General Loretta Lynch to the Supreme Court. (The Hill)
THE LATEST ON THE REPUBLICAN RACE:
-- On Super Tuesday, Rubio merely hopes to hang on. Dan Balz and Philip Rucker: “I will do whatever it takes, I will campaign as hard as it takes, I will stay in this race as long as it takes,” Rubio told a boisterous outdoor rally of 7,000 in Kennesaw, an Atlanta suburb. “A con artist will never get control of this party.” Todd Harris, one of Rubio’s top advisers, said Saturday that he does not believe any candidate would have a majority of delegates at the start of the Republican convention in July. Asked whether Rubio would have more than Trump, he said, “I’m not prepared to say yes or no to that right now.”
-- Cruz campaign manager Jeff Roe said in an email: “If Marco Rubio is out of the race, we win. If we get out of the race, Donald Trump wins, because he gets a ton of our votes. It’s really as simple as that. The coalition of voters we have put together is not going to support an establishment candidate like Marco Rubio.”
-- Rubio pouring last-minute resources into Virginia (and spending today there). Paul Schwartzman and Rachel Weiner: “Interviews with voters suggest that some are dissatisfied, and that Rubio may have an opportunity to expand support. ‘Ultimately, somebody has to take those voters away from Trump or he’s not stoppable,’ said Quentin Kidd, a political science professor. ‘If Rubio doesn’t do well in Virginia, I don’t know how he can make the case that he’s the moderate alternative.’”
-- Trump defended himself against allegations that Trump University is a fraud. Many former students allege that the program ripped them off. “It’s a small deal,” Trump told voters in Arkansas. “Very small.” (Michelle Ye Hee Lee)
-- Trump continues to get endorsements, including former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and France’s Jean-Marie Le Pen. “If I were American I would vote Trump,” the far-right nationalist tweeted yesterday. “But may God protect him!” (Jose A. DelReal)
-- Kasich says he’ll drop out if he loses his home state. “If I don’t win Ohio … ballgame over,” he said in a pre-taped “Meet the Press” interview.
-- The Detroit Free Press endorses John Kasich.
-- Former NSA director Michael Hayden, a retired general, said the military would have to disobey Trump if he tried to follow through on some of his campaign promises. Specifically homing in on The Donald‘s support for torture and killing the relatives of terrorists, Hayden told Bill Maher: “If he were to order that once in government, the American armed forces would refuse to act. .. You’re required not to follow an unlawful order. That would be in violation of all the international laws of armed conflict. ... I would be incredibly concerned if a President Trump governed in a way that was consistent with the language candidate Trump expressed during the campaign.” Watch:
-- “These congressional candidates got inspiration from Sanders – but little else,” by David A. Fahrenthold: “Sanders says his ‘political revolution’ is also about transforming Congress. But, in campaigns for the House and Senate, the revolution is not going well. There are more than 30 Sanders supporters running [for office], including an SNL alum in Iowa and a former truck driver who got himself tattooed with a silhouette of Sanders. Only a handful of these ‘Bernie-crats’ have any shot at winning. The rest are disorganized, underfunded – and jumping into races with very long odds. One is trying to beat the head of the Democratic Party in a Democratic primary. Another is trying to beat the Republican speaker of the House. In two districts, there are actually two Bernie-crats running, taking donations to battle each other. This wave of candidates illustrates Sanders’ powerful rhetoric against Wall Street. But the struggle shows how much Sanders must do to catch up with his promised ‘revolution’ … [because] revolutions must be organized, after all.”
-- “Syria’s cease-fire is working, at least for now,” by Liz Sly and Zakaria Zakaria: “The unthinkable happened in Syria on Saturday as an internationally mandated truce unexpectedly took hold across much of the country, raising hopes that the beginning of an end to the five-year-old crisis may be in sight. There were scattered skirmishes and bursts of artillery fire across some of the front lines, a car bomb killed two people in the province of Hama, and Syrian government warplanes dropped barrel bombs on a village in Idlib province, without causing casualties. But for the first time in as long as anyone can remember, the guns were almost completely silent, offering Syrians a welcome respite from the relentless bloodshed that has killed in excess of a quarter of a million people.”
-- “The growing U.N. scandal over sex abuse and ‘peacekeeper babies’,” by Kevin Sieff: “The neighborhood is a patchwork of low-slung buildings, scorched and looted in the civil war, where the U.N. was supposed to come to the rescue. But in a number of homes, women and girls are raising babies they say are the children of U.N. troops who abused or exploited them. ‘Peacekeeper babies,’ the U.N. calls them ... Since the U.N. peacekeeping mission here began in 2014, its employees have been formally accused of sexually abusing or exploiting 42 local civilians, mostly underage girls. ‘There was no way to get food or money at the time -- they promised to help us if we slept with them,” said then-16-year-old Rosine Mengue, who received the equivalent of $4 in each encounter with a peacekeeper. The allegations come amid one of the biggest scandals to plague the U.N. in years … Officials said that peacekeeping contingents from about 10 countries have been implicated in the sex-abuse scandal.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
— ZIGNAL VISUAL: Every single day this year, mentions of Cruz have outnumbered those of Rubio. That all changed after Rubio started attacking Trump. Since Friday's debate, Rubio mentions have consistently outnumbered those of Cruz across all media. It is a sign of #MarcoMentum, or just proof that social media loves a good insult contest? Here’s a chart from our analytics partners at Zignal Labs tracking mentions of the two Cuban American rivals:
Hillary crashed a bachelor party:
Rubio drew big crowds:
As did Sanders:
The view from backstage at Bernie Sanders's rally in Grand Prairie, Texas pic.twitter.com/U1QZ8111Ck— John Wagner (@WPJohnWagner) February 27, 2016
Jack Kingston campaigned with Cruz:
Trump hammered Rubio and Cruz:
Just watched lightweight Marco Rubio lying to a small crowd about my past record. He is not as smart as Cruz, and may be an even bigger liar— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 27, 2016
I am self-funding my campaign and am therefore not controlled by the lobbyists and special interests like lightweight Rubio or Ted Cruz!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 27, 2016
Trump defended his decision not to release his tax returns:
Tax experts throughout the media agree that no sane person would give their tax returns during an audit. After the audit, no problem!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 27, 2016
I unfairly get audited by the I.R.S. almost every single year. I have rich friends who never get audited. I wonder why?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 27, 2016
Ben Sasse described why he thinks people support Trump:
many well-meaning ppl support Trump.— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) February 27, 2016
But some say they want him for reasons indistinguishable from desiring a king https://t.co/AxKcm3uluw
Conservatives are not pleased with Chris Christie:
MSNBC is parting ways with host Melissa Harris-Perry after she refused to appear on the air Saturday, hinting to coworkers in an email that there was a “racial component” to her treatment from the network. Twitter was abuzz:
Don't always agree w @MHarrisPerry, but what she did on TV is historic. MSNBC has a ton of white blah blah blahs it should sideline instead— jeremy scahill (@jeremyscahill) February 28, 2016
On the campaign trail: Many of the candidates will appear on the Sunday shows:
- CNN's State of the Union: Cruz, Kasich
- Fox News Sunday: Cruz, Trump
- ABC's This Week: Cruz, Sanders
- NBC's Meet the Press: Cruz, Trump, Sanders, Kasich
- CBS's Face the Nation: Rubio, Trump, Cruz, Sanders
Here's the rundown of some campaign stops:
- Clinton: Pine Bluff, Ark.; Nashville, Tenn.
- Sanders: Fort Collins, Colo., Oklahoma City, Okla.
- Trump: Madison, Ala.
- Rubio: Purcellville, Midlothian, Virginia Beach, Salem, Va.
- Cruz: Tulsa, Lawton, Okla.
- Kasich: Springfield, Mass.
At the White House: President Obama has no public events scheduled. Vice President Biden and his wife are at the Oscars in Los Angeles.
On Capitol Hill: The Senate and House are in recess.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Mexico’s top diplomat unleashed on Trump in an interview: “When an apple’s red, it is red. When you say ignorant things, you’re ignorant,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Claudia Ruiz Massieu told The Post. “It is impossible to think of a 2,000-mile border being walled off and trade between our two countries stopped. It is impractical, inefficient, wrong and, frankly, it is not an intelligent thing to do.” As for Mexico paying for Trump’s proposed wall, she said: “It is not a proposition we would even consider. It is an impossible proposition.” (Kevin Sullivan and Mary Jordan)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- Get ready to enjoy another beautiful Sunday. The Capital Weather Gang: “Spring fever may be the phrase of the day as sunshine rules and temperatures head toward April-like levels. Highs are mainly in the upper 50s and lower 60s. In fact, most spots may crack 60!”
-- The D.C. streetcar finally began carrying passengers on Saturday. (Michael Laris answers frequently asked questions here.)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Here's Trump telling Christie to go home:
Here's a look inside Trump's jet:
Rubio went after Trump's "spray tan":
A pro-Cruz super PAC released this video against Trump:
Above Average released a parody of "Spotlight," poking fun at the city of Boston: