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Now, Millions Casting Votes In Crucial Super Tuesday Contests; Trump Campaign Hopes Big Wins Tonight Could Force Haley To Drop Out; Soon, First Polls Close In Critical Super Tuesday Contests; Soon: First Polls Close In Critical Super Tuesday Contests. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired March 05, 2024 - 18:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: With that, what is the answer, in your view, going forward still.

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think that you can lean in on abortion. I do think you do talk about go on attack with immigration, which we talked about, how Republicans don't want to govern and talk about the future of America.


BOLDUAN: Yes, jokes around, people. There's no joking. It's very serious. It is Super Tuesday.

Thank you so much for joining us. The first polls are closing in one hour. Our special coverage of Super Tuesday continues now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: It is the biggest night yet in the presidential race with a slew of contests from Virginia in the east all the way to California that will likely push Donald Trump to the brink of clinching the GOP nomination.

We are tracking every single vote, including in North Carolina, where, right now, people are lined up to cast ballots on this pivotal night in the fight for the White House.

Welcome to CNN's live Super Tuesday coverage. I'm Erin Burnett in New York.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And I'm Jake Tapper in Washington. We're less than an hour away from the first major round of poll closings. And the first results on this history-making, norm-shattering primary night, Donald Trump, former president, now a criminal defendant four times over, hopes to continue his extraordinary winning streak and end the night very close to locking up his third Republican presidential nomination.

That's possible because the race for the White House is going national tonight, with 16 states holding contests, and a whopping total of 865 delegates at stake for the Republicans. That's more than one third of all Republican delegates. The key is obviously to winning the nomination. Now, Trump is hoping to sweep those delegates as he looks to build this insurmountable lead over his last remaining GOP opponent, Nikki Haley, and further tighten his grip on the Republican party.

Haley still fighting, seeking openings to cut into Trump's support. We're going to be closely watching to see if she can pull off any upsets this evening, and if so, where?

All of this likely setting the stage for a widely expected Biden-Trump rematch in November. We're going to keep tabs on President Biden's scorecard in Democratic primaries tonight, as he moves toward making his nomination official. He just picked up his first win this evening in the Democratic offices in Iowa.

Now, here's a roadmap of what's going to happen tonight, 7:00 Eastern, voting ends in Virginia and Vermont. A half hour later, polling places close in North Carolina. At 8:00 Eastern, we're going to look for results from Oklahoma, Alabama, Tennessee, Massachusetts and Maine. At 8:30, we focus on Arkansas. At 9:00 Eastern, all polls close in Texas, Colorado and Minnesota. Texas has the second biggest pool of delegates tonight. At 11:00 Eastern, voting will end in California. That's the top delegate prize in the nation, also in the Utah Republican caucuses. Alaska will cap the night with polls closing at midnight Eastern.

And our correspondents, they're fanned out across the United States of America, covering tonight's contests, covering the candidates.

First, let's go to see next Kristen Holmes. She's at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, where Donald Trump is hosting a Super Tuesday watch party. And, Kristen, what is the Trump team looking for this evening?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, the Trump team understands that he's not going to cross that delegate threshold and become the presumptive nominee tonight, but they are hoping for two things, one, that he gets enough delegates tonight so that he can actually reach that milestone as early as next week to become the Republican nominee, and, two, that he wins by such a definitive margin that it puts pressure on Nikki Haley to drop out.

Now, they're not waiting for that. They've already pivoted to the general election. And tonight's contests are really going to give them some insight into where and how they spend their resources in a general election.

One thing I want to point out, and it's striking to me to see, the last time I was at a political event in this very ballroom at Mar-a- Lago was when Donald Trump announced back in 2022.

That was a very different time. Almost nobody showed up. There were no congressional members. I was getting calls from allies who now, by the way, work for the campaign, who were calling me to say that it was embarrassing, that he couldn't believe that he was actually announcing that this was going to go nowhere and he should just bow out gracefully. Now, we're looking at a night in which he is on the cusp of potentially becoming the GOP nominees.

A lot has changed last year-and-a-half, and we've also started to see Republicans coalesce behind the former president, those same Republicans who had not so nice things to say when he announced his candidacy.

TAPPER: All right, Kristen Holmes in Palm Beach.

Let's go to Kylie Atwood now, who's in Charleston, South Carolina, covering the campaign of Nikki Haley. Kylie, what do we know about Governor Haley's plans tonight, expectations tonight, and her plans going forward?


KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, Nikki Haley is monitoring the results here in South Carolina, her home state. It's not one of the states that is voting tonight, but she has made no explicit promises about keeping her campaign alive after tonight's results are tallied, and that is a very different tactic than she took ahead of the primaries that we have seen in the major previous contest in Iowa.

She talked about going to New Hampshire, where it would turn into a two-person race with former President Trump in New Hampshire. She talked about going to South Carolina, her sweet home state. Her campaign put out a memo talking about fertile ground in Super Tuesday states.

And then in South Carolina, days before that primary, she said she wasn't going to go anywhere no matter what happened in her home state, saying that she would compete through Super Tuesday today. We don't have any future campaign events on the schedule for her.

We don't have any campaign memos talking about future sweet spots for her campaign. And we should note her campaign points out it's not apples to apples. There are more than a dozen states voting. Her campaign is really looking through a lot of the results that are coming in tonight, trying to digest all of that.

This doesn't mean that she's going to end her campaign necessarily tonight, but what it does mean, Jake, is that tonight will very clearly dictate what happens to her campaign after Super Tuesday.

TAPPER: All right, Kylie Atwood in Charleston, South Carolina.

Let's check in with one of the key states tonight, North Carolina, where we find Dianne Gallagher at a polling place in Cornelius, which is outside Charlotte. Dianne, you're talking to voters in Cornelius, North Carolina. What are you hearing from them?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Jake, abortion, education, immigration and democracy. Those are the main issues that voters here in Cornelius tell me have inspired them to come out for the primary. And you can see they are out right now. We have quite a line that is building. Now, look, North Carolina law does not allow me to go up and speak to them in line. I've got to stay about this far back. But we've seen steady turnout throughout the day here.

And I'm going to bring in a voter right now who actually just finished her voting, casting her ballots.

With me now is Ellen Rosenfeld (ph). And, Ellen, which ballot did you poll? The Democrat, the Republican?


GALLAGHER: Who did you vote for at the top of the ticket?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At the top of the ticket, I voted for Chris Christie, and it wasn't that I'm pro Chris Christie, but I feel like he is the least undesirable of all of the candidates. I'm from the northeast. I know what he's done. He's articulate. He's smart. I'm not a supporter, but I feel like we've got to do something different.

GALLAGHER: Why not Nikki Haley since she's still in the race?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A couple of things, I didn't like what she said about slavery. I didn't like that she lost in her own state. That doesn't, you know, speak well.

GALLAGHER: What will you do in November? Because it does look like at this point, based off delegates, Donald Trump is probably going to be the Republican nominee. Who will you vote for in November?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will, if he's on the ballot for any party, I will vote for Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and otherwise I'll see, but I would not vote for Trump or Biden. I would either abstain or vote for somebody else.

GALLAGHER: And, lastly, North Carolina has a very long down ballot right now, including a very watched nationally governor's race. Who did you vote for on the Republican ballot when it comes to governor here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't even remember the person's name. It was the top one. I wanted to make sure that Mark Robinson doesn't win because he is a hateful, sarcastic, nasty person and I just said I must vote against him.

GALLAGHER: Thank you so much, Ellen, for your time. I appreciate you exercising your right to vote today.

I'm going to send it back to you guys. But, again, as you can see, lots of people out here in North Carolina finishing up polls close at 7:30.

TAPPER: All right, Diane Gallagher in Cornelius, North Carolina, with a little Vox Populi.

And we're getting an early read on who's turning out to vote in Virginia and North Carolina, two key contests tonight. Let's go check in with David Chalian when it comes to what we're getting from the exit polls. What are you learning?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, Jake. We're trying to understand what is the makeup of the electorate in these two early East Coast states, Virginia and North Carolina. One of the questions we asked is, do you consider yourself part of the MAGA movement? In Virginia, only 31 percent said, yes, they consider themselves part of the MAGA movement.

Now, these are preliminary numbers. They'll change as the night goes on, but we'll see, because that's about as low as we've seen all nomination season long. 59 percent in Virginia say, no, they don't consider themselves part of the MAGA movement. In North Carolina, it's a more MAGA-fied electorate. 39 percent say they are part of the MAGA movement. 54 percent say they are not.

Then we asked, what are your feelings if indeed Donald Trump wins the nomination? So, in Virginia, 62 percent of Republican primary voters today say they would be satisfied if Donald Trump wins the nomination. That is similar to what we saw in New Hampshire, which he won, but wasn't his best state. 36 percent would say dissatisfied. In North Carolina, it just seems like friendlier territory for Trump in this Republican primary tonight.


74 percent, three quarters said they'd be satisfied with Trump as the nominee in North Carolina. 24 percent say they'd be dissatisfied.

Jake, if I'm sitting in Trump campaign headquarters, I'm looking at those dissatisfied chunks and saying, how much work do I have to do to get those voters on board with Trump between now and November?

TAPPER: Yes, because those are two states he needs to pick up of North Carolina. He needs to maintain. And, of course, Virginia he'd like to pick up.

David Chalian, thanks so much. We'll be checking in with you throughout the night.

John King at the Magic Wall. A lot of delegates, a lot of states, let's take a look.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And as we count them, both that voter with Dianne, what you just went through with David, should guide us through the night. Because if you look at this, this is where we begin, this is impressive. You cannot deny this. Donald Trump is on a march to the Republican nomination. You have to go over here. You can just barely see it. The District of Columbia is Nikki Haley's only win. And Donald Trump not only has 276 delegates to begin the night, but if you look at it that way, Jake, if your team is getting 83 percent of the available scores, then you'd say, wow, that's pretty good and it's impressive.

However, there's weaknesses beneath the strengths. And that's what you watch as you go through these states tonight. So what do we look for? Let's just come back to the delegate count.

We're going to get the early results on the East Coast. So, you start in Vermont. If you go back to 2016, this was not Donald Trump's best state. He won Vermont, but just barely. John Kasich, you see a lot of the light pink. That's John Kasich, a little bit of Marco Rubio in the state right there. Vermont does have a much less Trumpy Republican Party. So, you're watching, number one, have they warmed to Donald Trump, or number two, if Nikki Haley does well, maybe she wins, where is she winning and what does that tell us?

TAPPER: She was endorsed by the Republican governor.

KING: Endorsed by the Republican governor who is not a Trump fan.

Now, again, it's one of 15 states. So, if Nikki Haley's doing well in Vermont tonight, you know, they can't throw a party in Charleston. It's something you want any wins you can get. But if you look at this map and you go west, you know, Trump is wired in most of these states. But you do look in these early results, just like in Haley's home state of South Carolina, right? That's a huge Trump win.

But what happened? He's weaker in the suburbs, right? That's one thing we have seen consistently since 2016. Now, only one of the suburbs against Hillary Clinton has been weak in the suburbs since.

So, when we get the votes later tonight in Virginia, where are we going to look right? She won in the District of Columbia. You're going to look up here because you can bet right now that's going to be Trump, right? That's rural, small town America. That's Trump country.

The question is, is he solidifying? Is he at least stabilizing in the suburbs or does she continue to beat him in the suburbs because it won't stop him from winning the nomination, but that's what they'll study in the Biden campaign tonight.

So, you're looking for clues. There's no doubt though, if you come out to the mad (ph) map, we can switch over here for just one second. If you look at this, again, Donald Trump has weaknesses, some glaring weaknesses, and yet this is an impressive march to the nomination. If things go tonight, if he continues to win delegates at the rate, the pace he's been winning them so far, right, there's where you start the night, the 276, by the time we're done with California tonight, he could be way up here, in Alaska, he could be about 100 delegates shy of clinching 1,215.

So, this night is absolutely critical to the Trump campaign's math. They want to get this over with both symbolically and mathematically and move on to running against Biden. If they have a very good night, when we're standing here next Tuesday, it's more than likely that Donald Trump crosses the line.

So, tonight is this is where he starts, but as we go national, as you said, the right way to put it. As the primary campaign goes national tonight, Donald Trump, he's already made a big statement. Tonight, he gets a chance to make a giant statement about his grip on today's Republican Party. TAPPER: All right. John King, thanks so much.

And, Dana Bash, I mean, this night is pivotal as to what the next eight months are going to look like.

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: No question about it. And just to bounce off of what John was talking about and what those exit polls showed, one of the questions, and I should say I'm here with my friends and colleagues, tremendous anchors and reporters, and we're all talking to our sources about what to expect tonight, on that question of some potential weaknesses that Donald Trump, let's just start with Trump and his campaign are looking at, the question of Virginia, let's just start there.

The Trump campaign has an entire list of specific counties in specific states that are voting tonight, looking at what the voters are going to do, just for example, Virginia, Spotsylvania County, Virginia, they're looking at that, Marshall County, Alabama, Sebastian County, Arkansas, and the list goes on and on. Why are they looking at these specific counties? To see what they can learn for the next eight months, pivotal swing counties, pivotal voters that make up the electorate there.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, they don't expect to be surprised by the outcome tonight, but they're looking for little hints and what John mentioned their weaknesses potentially for these candidates, and maybe not Trump himself is looking at those, but certainly his political team is.

And they expect that he's going to cruise through the Super Tuesday. That is not really anything that's been up for surprise. That's why there's hundreds of people gathered in Mar-a-Lago right now but the one thing that they are hoping to do tonight.

And one thing that I'm told repeatedly that has been bothering Trump is how on all of these election nights, the conversation is often about his big victories, but then it shifts typically on when it was in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, to the percentage of the vote that Nikki Haley got.


What Trump did not get, the people who were not voting for him, because that is where those weaknesses could very well be with independent or with suburban voters that could very well hurt him in the general election.

What I'm told they're looking to do tonight is to kind of extinguish that and to not have that narrative and shift away from it. They are confident essentially that they'll get there because they feel like the race is nationalizing. And these are places where Nikki Haley has not campaigned as intensively.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But, so far, these exit polls are similar to what we've seen in some of these other states, including some swing states. Virginia is looking a lot like New Hampshire. New Hampshire is going to be a battleground state in November. Virginia is as well.

And that is a real warning sign. 36 percent of Republican voters would be dissatisfied if they were a -- Trump were the nominee. And, you know, for Nikki Haley, 48 percent of her voters, according to The New York Times poll that came out over the weekend, actually voted for Joe Biden in November. What happens to those other 31 percent of voters who did not vote for Joe Biden come November? Will they ultimately vote for the Republican nominee? Will they vote for Trump at the end of the day? That's going to be a big question, a big warning sign if these results turn out the way the exit polls --

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. Look, I don't think we know what's going to happen to that solid 30 percent of the Republican electorate who's been coming out to these primaries. First of all, who are they? Are they people who actually are gettable for Trump in the first place? Maybe or maybe not. That, I think, remains to be seen.

But this day, I think, and this week and probably next week, the most important period, I think, for the Biden campaign, as it helps them accomplish one of the most important things, which is to clarify in voters' minds that Trump is going to be the nominee.

BASH: Definitely.

PHILLIP: The American electorate just does not believe that this is happening, and they won't until it's real. And that is actually going to be a boon for Biden and it also is one of Trump's biggest weaknesses.

He is dominant in this Republican electorate, but he is also so incredibly polarizing. Trump draws out people, like that woman that Dianne Gallagher talked to, was like, I just got to get out and do and say something, he brings those people out of the woodworks, too.

AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I mean, I tend to look at this thing kind of very big picture, which is that these primary voters have told the electorate this is the deal. No matter what you think, this is the deal this is who we are presenting to you is our first and most valid vision of the party, and a lot of these questions haven't changed.

So, I think the Trump folks must know that suburban women or people who are not rural, older, no college degree voters are not his sweet spot and they've got to figure out what to do between now and then so that he's not a one-term president, exactly.

And similarly with Biden, there's another two states, I think Minnesota and Colorado, that might have an uncommitted campaign going on. Again, it's about sending a message. That's what primaries really are for. They're not about saying look who's going to win it's like the party saying to the country, here's the setup this is what we think our visions are.

BASH: And that's what we're going to see likely, maybe not officially by the end of tonight, but unofficially you're going to have four men who are going to say four more years. So, this Super Tuesday though is just getting started. We're going to cover a lot of ground in the coming hours as we map out the wins and losses in both parties. The scorecard could change very soon. So, stay with us.



BURNETT: All right. We are following the action at polling places across the United States on this Super Tuesday. Millions and millions of Americans are voting in Republican and Democratic primaries that are going to reveal a whole lot about where the presidential race is headed into the weeks and the months ahead as we count to November.

Welcome back to CNN's special coverage.

One of the states that we are watching tonight is Colorado. Our John Berman is there in Castle Rock specifically, which is just outside of Denver.

So, John, you've been there talking to people, observing turnout throughout the day. What's happening there now?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Erin. Well, behind me, you actually see something, it's not an anomaly, but it's a little bit rare. These are people lined up to vote in person here in Colorado. Why is that rare? Because the vast majority, I'm talking like 85 percent or more, actually vote by drop box. They've been able to drop their ballots off in drop boxes, just like this one, more than 400 of them around the state for days and days now.

This is actually a drop box where people can come even today and leave their ballots, then they can go about their merry way. But the people you're seeing over there, they can still vote in person. They can even register to vote today and then do it in the traditional way.

We're going to walk outside here because we're going to talk to a voter. On the way, I'm going to remind you, Erin, Colorado has been in the news a lot lately. Why? Because the Supreme Court weighed in yesterday and said that states cannot ban Donald Trump from being on the ballot for being an insurrectionist.


In my hand here, as we're walking more than 100 feet away from the voting location, in my hand is one of those ballots.

You will see Donald Trump's name is on that ballot. The voters that we've been talking to have mostly been saying, the Republican voters have been saying, the court cases, the various issues surrounding Donald Trump, if they're Republicans, they say they don't make them less likely to vote for Donald Trump. They say they make them more likely. Democrats, it's the opposite. Donald Trump is the reason they say they're showing up.

I'm joined now by a voter. By the way, I have no idea who she voted for or why she came today. But your name is?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Melissa Harrison (ph).

BERMAN: Melissa, what brought you out to the polls today?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just want to have my vote, have it counted.

BERMAN: What are the issues that are most important to you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The economy, the border.

BERMAN: Who did you vote for today?


BERMAN: Now, to any of the court cases, the criminal charges against him, any of those weigh on your vote at all?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, and I don't believe he lost the last election.

BERMAN: You don't believe he lost the election?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe he won.

BERMAN: He did lose the last election. You do know that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't believe that.

BERMAN: Okay. So, you think that you believe incorrectly that Donald Trump won the last election and you still support him today?


BERMAN: Anything that could change your support from going forward, even if he's convicted of a crime?


BERMAN: All right. That speaks a lot to the support that does exist for Donald Trump among Republican voters. It is interesting to hear that, that level of support among Republicans. We will say, we've talked to Democrats too, who say the only reason they're out here today, Erin, is to vote for Joe Biden to stop Donald Trump. Erin?

BURNETT: All right. I mean, that was a fascinating conversation and very honest. It's actually good to see a conversation like that. And we're going to talk a lot more about what that voter just told John that very clear and a view that obviously is not going to change no matter what that she has.

I want to get some more insights though into the mindset of voters in two other key states, right? She obviously is giving one anecdote from the state of Colorado. But exit polls from Virginia and North Carolina, David Chalian, where you are getting a better picture of the entire electorate there who chose to vote. What are you learning now? CHALIAN: Yes, Erin. John Berman could not have teed this up better. That was one voter, but we see it broadly in these exit polls in both North Carolina and Virginia. In Virginia, do you think Biden legitimately won the 2020 election? Now, here we see more of an even split of those participating in the Republican primary. 45 percent say, yes, Biden legitimately won. 46 percent incorrectly say, no, Biden did not legitimately win the 2020 election. That's similar to what we saw in New Hampshire, sort of even split.

If you look, though, in North Carolina, it's a different story, far more election deniers in the North Carolina Republican primary electorate. 60 percent incorrectly say that Biden did not legitimately win the 2020 election. Only a third, 34 percent, say correctly that Joe Biden did win.

We also asked that follow up question that John Berman asked that voter in Colorado. If convicted of a crime, is Donald Trump still fit for the presidency? A majority in Virginia voting in the Republican primary today, 53 percent say, yes, even as a convicted criminal, Donald Trump is fit for the presidency. 40 percent say no.

In North Carolina, it is even more so. 64 percent, nearly two thirds of voters participating in the Republican primary in North Carolina say, yes, Donald Trump is fit for the presidency even as a convicted criminal. Only 32 percent, Erin, say, no, he is not.

BURNETT: It's really incredible to see it because what we just saw there, right, are the statistics that David is providing and then just that one interview that John Berman did with that voter, the anecdote, David Urban, clearly shows this is consistent.

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's consistent. It's not going to change. And, look, the legitimacy or illegitimacy of these prosecutions, that's the narrative that underlies a lot of the Trump campaign moving forward. So, when asked if Trump is convicted, right, will you still vote? A lot of people don't care, because they think that the basis of all those cases is illegitimate to begin with, that doesn't matter to them at all, right?

And then the other portion of the electorate that's responding and saying the 40 percent in Virginia, for example, that said, we find it troubling. If he is on the ballot, if it's only choice between him and Joe Biden, I'm wondering if those people would still come home on Election Day and vote for Trump. That's the question that's not asked.


URBAN: And that's the big one, right?

AXELROD: Do these people, when faced with a choice, where do they fall? And the same is true to some degree for some of these Biden voters who say that he's too old in one of the weekend polls, 12 percent of people who said that Trump was guilty of serious federal crimes. [18:30:02]

In other words, they accepted that he had committed serious federal crime, said they would vote for Trump anyway. But I don't think we're going to really know until we see these guys pitted against each other.

KATE BEDINGFIELD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I think that's exactly right and I think that's what tonight is going to start to sort of firm up for us is this contrast. We heard some discussion earlier and it's true. I can tell you the Biden campaign certainly has polling that shows that people don't believe Donald Trump is going to be the nominee. A lot of them also don't believe Joe Biden is going to be the nominee.

So, as we see this -- as we see tonight.

AXELROD: It's a bit surprising night.

BEDINGFIELD: Well, that you know, in some ways, that is a byproduct of the Trump era, right? I mean, people really do just choose their own facts. But that's why tonight while the outcome tonight is perhaps a foregone conclusion. What it's actually doing is setting up this contrast.

And I also think that these numbers show, you know, I mean, what, 36 percent of Republican voters in Virginia say they'd be dissatisfied if Donald Trump were the nominee. That's not an insignificant number of Republican voters.

BURNETT: Just dissatisfied mean they go somewhere else.

AXELROD: Yes, that's a different question.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think a lot of them may have already voted for Joe Biden one time and now they're coming out to vote against Donald Trump again. To me, the horse race tonight is secondary to some of the more tectonic things we're seeing in our politics, the rapid changing of the Republican Party, the outflow of these suburban, you know, college-educated people like you're going to see in Northern Virginia, they're leaving, they're gone. And the inflow of this working class, multigenerational, multiracial, out of the Democratic Party, into the Republican Party, it is tectonic and it changes everything about the framework we have used for 30 years to cover our politics.

And the idea that the Democratic Party, and this is under covered in my opinion, is losing the mantle of being, you know, for my whole life, we're for the working class, we're for the little guy, we're for the people being crushed by the corporations and the government. The people that was aimed at are gone and they're going to the Republican Party.

And what does that mean for the policy future of these two parties? To me, that's a huge story and we're going to see this rapid movement on that tonight. VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, I do think you see some of some of it. I think that to your earlier point, I think people really are in denial. This is where we are as a country. I think there are people who literally -- people can be on the street. Do you think that Biden's going to run again? He's running. It's happening.

And so I think that we don't actually know when this actually lands on people what they're going to do. I do think that Biden is more burdened than I think Democrats want to accept by some of the disinfection (ph) with the working class, some of these younger voters. That stuff is very scary. Are you going to see a little bit of that tonight? But I do believe that Donald Trump, for a lot of us, it's not tonight Donald Trump versus Nikki Haley. It's Donald Trump versus democracy.

I mean, for a lot of us, you have people who are voting in the Republican primary who are Democrats, not because they're trying to screw anything up, but because they're that passionate about the threat he poses.

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But I think what's remarkable about this moment is both Joe Biden and Donald Trump have glaring vulnerabilities, and this election is ultimately going to come down to who can close that gap.

So, with Trump, you see this, let's call it 30 percent Nikki Haley voters. How many of those are not willing to go over to him? And I have to wonder what the number one issue for voters across the board being border security, where Donald Trump outperforms Joe Biden two to one on it, you're going to be able to bring some of those Republicans home.

But to Joe Biden -- to Van's point with Joe Biden, if you argue this democracy message, can you peel off a small number of those who just can't quite bring themselves to pull the lever for Donald Trump? It's an open question.


BURNETT: Stay with us. It's a long night.

AXELROD: No, I know.

BURNETT: It's a long night.

AXELROD: I don't want to have to scorch (ph) it all over.

BURNETT: We're getting closer and closer to the first major round of poll closings in the Super Tuesday presidential primaries.

As we stand by for results, we are going to hear from the Democratic senator and former presidential candidate, Elizabeth Warren. She's joining us in the CNN Election Center with her take on tonight's contests and the looming Biden-Trump rematch.


TAPPER: You're looking at a live shot from Richmond, Virginia, 1 of 16 states, millions of voters. They don't call it Super Tuesday for nothing. Where will the fight for the Republican presidential nomination stand once the last ballots are counted after today's contest? We are minutes away from critical results.

Let's go to Jeff Zeleny, who's here in Washington, D.C. And, Jeff, Super Tuesday is an important pivot point, theoretically, for both the Biden and Trump campaigns.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, tonight, advisers to both President Biden and former President Donald Trump actually agree on one thing, and that is that the general election battle is finally nearly underway and it's poised to accelerate dramatically this week, of course, the bookend of these Super Tuesday results as well as the State of the Union Address on Thursday.

But talking to Biden officials, one adviser told me this can't come soon enough. They have been frustrated by the sort of lack of urgency among Democrats that there's not a sense of a fear of a Trump comeback. It's been exactly 50 days since the Iowa caucuses.


And this adviser said they assume that the Democratic base would rally behind the idea of Donald Trump coming back. That has not happened.

But one adviser says in the State of the Union on Thursday they plan to show who Donald Trump is. Of course, you might wonder, haven't they already been doing that? But they believe there will be more of a stark contrast.

As for the Trump campaign, they believe that this will be, quote, all about Biden. One adviser tells me they are very happy with where this race is about immigration, about the economy, but they are watching tonight the results in the suburbs of Minneapolis, the suburbs of North Carolina cities as well, to see what they will need to do to unify the Republican Party.

Jake, of course, the electorate different in the primary than the general, but tonight this race finally seems joined. Jake?

TAPPER: All right. Jeff Zeleny in D.C., thanks so much.

Joining us now in the CNN Election Center here, Senator, former Democratic Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren with the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Thanks so much for being here, Senator.

So, Donald Trump is pretty close to winning the Republican nomination to get enough delegates to clinch it, despite what happened January 6th, 91 criminal counts being found liable of sex abuse and defamation. Despite all of that, this race has not really been competitive on the Republican side. What do you make -- it's a two- parter for you, professor. What do you make of, A, the fact that Donald Trump does seem to have this clinched up and has the whole time, and, B, that even with all those vulnerabilities, it's competitive if not Trumping the lead against Biden?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): So, let's do the first part. Donald Trump supporters are Donald Trump supporters. You know, ask them. They still -- many of them are election deniers. They're in with Donald Trump all the way.

But here's the part that I think is really important. Donald Trump really hasn't done anything in the last three years to try to expand the number of people to join the Trump family. And I think what this is going to come down to is going to just be a comparison. We're already there. And we're going to have two people who both have been president and who will have records to run on.

So, Donald Trump, basically, four years as president did two things. One, he got an extremist Supreme Court that overturned Roe versus Wade. And, two, he got biggest tax cut in a zillion years, $2 trillion, mostly sucked up by millionaires, billionaires, and giant corporations.

Joe Biden in three years has managed to cut costs for working families. So, now there's $35 insulin, 4 million people have seen their student loan debt cancel and he has also brought more fairness to the tax code. First time, we have a 15 percent minimum corporate tax on these billionaire corporations and the largest climate package in the history of the world.

So, I think what they've done is going to be a big part, certainly not all of it, but a big part of how this election is going to shape up.

BASH: Senator, one of the things you just said was that Donald Trump hasn't done anything to expand his base or his electorate. What they are trying to do in the Trump campaign is very much encroach on traditionally Democratic voters, black voters, Hispanic voters.

Some of the things that you just said are the arguments that, of course, we expect the Biden campaign to make going forward. There is some frustration in Democratic orders that those kinds of arguments aren't coming more specifically and loudly from the president himself.

WARREN: So, I think what you're saying is the president needs to brag more.

BASH: I'm asking you.

WARREN: I think he should brag more. I think he's got plenty to brag about. First is going to be the State of the Union. I hope he does a lot of bragging. I also hope that he talks about the things he wants to do, like universal childcare and housing, the things we need to work on.

But here's the thing I think most of all, I hope that what we're going to see is just Joe Biden being Joe Biden, because Joe Biden ultimately has got a good heart. I know who Joe Biden fights for. Joe Biden gets out there every day and fights for people like the diabetic who has gone from paying $200 a month to $35 a month, for the person getting crushed by student loan debt, the public school teacher who just can't pay off those debts. He's out there fighting for those people. He's fighting for people who wanted a job and now have got a job. That's Joe Biden. Trump, who does he fight for? Donald Trump, first and last.

TAPPER: So, I don't think I'm giving you any news you don't know but there are a lot of warning signs going off on how effectively Joe Biden is going to be able to rebuild the coalition that got him elected in 2020, a lot of progressives, a lot of Muslim Americans and Arab-Americans in Michigan, certainly, but not only them, other progressives upset with the way he supported Netanyahu during this war.

I know that a lot of Democrats are really worried about those voters, 100,000 in Michigan who voted uncommitted, not voting for Trump, but either staying at home or going third party, going for Cornell West, going for Jill Stein, going for Robert F. Kennedy Jr.


How worried are you and what do you say to those voters to get them to come home?

WARREN: So I want to start in a different place because for me this isn't about politics. This is ultimately about doing what's right.

I understand that there are extraordinarily passionate feelings about what has happened, what has happened in Gaza, what has happened in Israel, people feel very engaged and very invested. And the key is that we're all trying to drive to the same place and that is we need a permanent peaceful solution in the Middle East.

Look, we got four things we need to do and we need to do them right now. We need those hostages returned. We need a ceasefire. We need to open up so that there is plenty of humanitarian aid flowing in, and we need to push leadership so that it's moving toward a permanent peace.

That is a two-state solution that is to places for two peoples who can live in peace with dignity, security and who can have self- determination for their futures.

And as much as wrong, there's a sliver of hope that this moment opens up that other countries in the region are ready to push the United States we need to push hard and we need to push those parties toward a peaceful solution. That's where we want to get. We need to push harder to get there.

TAPPER: Senator Elizabeth Warren, from the great commonwealth of Massachusetts, thanks so much for being here.

BASH: Thanks, Senator.

WARREN: You bet.

TAPPER: In addition to the presidential race, there are many other high-profile contests that we are paying attention to tonight, specifically Boris Sanchez is staying on top of that for us.

Boris, give us the rundown of some of the key races you're following.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Yeah, Jake, we're watching some very competitive down-ballot primary races tonight battles receipts in Congress and for governor across a handful of states.

Let's start with the Senate primary in California. It's a top two primary. That means that all the candidates are on the same ballot, regardless of party affiliation, the top two vote-getters then square off in November.

Now this Senate race is one of the most expensive we've seen thus far this cycle. Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff is considered the front runner. He's facing off against to fellow House progressives, Katie Porter and Barbara Lee. The most well-known Republican in the race is Steve Garvey. He's a former Major League Baseball player.

Meantime, another Senate primary to watch in Texas, Republican Senator Ted Cruz, seeking his third term. Favored to win in the Democratic primary, Congressman Colin Allred, a former NFL linebacker.

We're also watching a heated governor's race taking shape in North Carolina. Running in front on the Republican inside, the state's first Black lieutenant governor, they far-right Trump acolyte Mark Robinson, and Democratic contest, State Attorney General Josh Stein is leading the way in endorsements and in fundraising as well.

And finally, some important congressional primaries we are watching, including a rare allies turned rivals race in Alabama because of redistricting. Two incumbent Republican congressman are clashing head to head.

And back in California, voters are deciding the top two candidates to fill house seats held by former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Congressman Adam Schiff. Notably, among the candidates for Schiff's seat, a '90s sitcom star Ben Savage from "Boy Meets World". One of the key questions I have tonight, Jake, where's Topanga?

TAPPER: All right. We're on the brink of the first significant round of results, once voting ends in Virginia. And in Vermont, just minutes from now. It is the busiest night yet of the primary season, and it might be a defining moment in the fight for the White House.

Don't go anywhere. We'll see if we can reject any winners after we sneak in this quick break.



TAPPER: It is Super Tuesday and we are clear closing in on the first significant results at the top of the hour. You're looking right now at a gorgeous shot from Richmond, Virginia.

The top of the hour is when polling places close in Virginia and Vermont. That's just a few minutes from now, a total of 65 Republican delegates are on the line in these two contests, most of them in the commonwealth of Virginia, not far from where I'm standing.

Donald Trump and Nikki Haley both campaigned in Virginia in the final lead-up to tonight's primary. Haley is eyeing the commonwealth of Virginia as a place where she might be able to peel away votes and delegates from Trump. Virginia's key, of course, to President Biden's efforts to hold onto the White House in any potential rematch with former President Trump.

The commonwealth went for Biden in 2020 and has voted blue every presidential election since 2008, but it has a Republican governor. It is a purple state.

Let's check in with Jessica Dean, who's at a polling place in Richmond, Virginia.

Jessica, tell us what's going on there as voting is about to end?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, we're just right up on the deadline here, Jake. I've been talking to voters all afternoon and one theme that I hear again and again, Democrats who are voting for Nikki Haley as a way to protest against Donald Trump, and also people who perhaps voted for President Biden in 2020, who consider themselves independents, voting for Nikki Haley.


They really want to see somebody else in there.

But one man told me, look, I'm probably going to go back to Biden if it's Trump versus Biden, but more and more we heard from people who said they're typically Democratic voters, but they wanted to try to support Nikki Haley in this instance because President Biden, they didn't feel like needed their vote in this moment, that they could protest vote against him.

So about 250,000 people early voting so far here, a few more Democrats, you'll see there over Republicans. But, Jake, what my big takeaway from talking to voters, everybody has their very own specific reason for why they were voting for who they were voting for. Top issues, immigration, abortion, the economy. That's what I heard again and again.

TAPPER: All right. Jessica Dean in the Mecca, Richmond, Virginia -- thank you so much.

Now, it's true that there are a lot of different kinds of people turning out to vote, vote. And David Chalian is digging deeper into our exit polls from Virginia.

And, David, what are you learning from the exit polls about who actually makes up the electorate?

CHALIAN: Exactly. The different components of this Virginia Republican presidential primary electorate, you give us insight here. If you look at a party ID, this is how people identify. Sixty percent say that they identify as Republican.

Now, remember, it's a non-partisan -- there's no party registration in Virginia, but 60 percent of voters in the Republican primary identify as Republican, 30 percent independent, 11 percent Democrat -- Democrats voting in the Republican primary.

Now, this is not quite as many independents as we saw New Hampshire but it is some opportunity there you would imagine for Nikki Haley.

Take a look also at the breakdown of urban versus suburban and rural. By far, suburbanites are showing up a big number, 72 percent of the electorate from suburban areas, 18 percent urban 10 percent rural.

On the question of race. It is an overwhelmingly white electorate in the Republican presidential primary in Virginia, 87 percent white. And you could see every other race that we've got there is in single digits.

And then finally, the great dividing line in American politics, college-educated versus non-college educated. This Republican primary electorate, Virginia, is roughly split in half, 52 percent are college graduates, 48 percent are non-college voters.

And that, too, having 52 percent is college graduates would seem like opportunity Jake for the Haley campaign to go fishing for votes.

TAPPER: Very interesting, David Chalian.

And you know, cut the, commonwealth of Virginia is an incredibly important. It's not just a primary this evening. It's going to be where a lot of money is spent in November.

KING: Maybe, maybe this is the fascinating question you raise. You mentioned it's a purple state, it is a purple state. It has a Republican governor, had a Republican legislature, but the Republican governor lost last year remember when he tried to win the two chambers of the legislature to the Democrats won them both.

But it's been 10 years. George W. Bush is the last Republican to carry Virginia for president 10 years ago. So is it a purple state? Is it a presidential battleground state?

If the map expands, if we are talking about Virginia come September, October, November, Joe Biden's in trouble.

Let's just go back and look at it. You go back and look at this state right here. He won the state by 10 points, right? Barack Obama won it by five. Hillary Clinton won it by five. Joe Biden won it by ten.

So if we are talking about Virginia after the conventions this year, that tells you the map was expanding in a way that is not good for Joe Biden. So that -- it's fascinating to watch.

So what are you looking for there? You're looking at the suburbs. Of course, the suburbs have what have changed, what have -- are what has changed Virginia. George W. Bush, one up here, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden

wins. This is Trump country. That conversation with Jessica Dean and I think it was Dianne Gallagher before that with Democrats who turned out to vote for Nikki Haley to vote against Trump, is fabulous because if you're thinking strategically, you're not a Democrat to go out for to keep Nikki Haley alive. She beats Joe Biden by more than Donald Trump in the national polls right now.

People vote their passions. So people are showing up doing what is actually the -- not the best thing for Joe Biden. Voting for Nikki Haley to keep her right, even though you might go back to Biden, that part is fascinating. So can Nikki Haley do it? Can she surprise us?

These are -- these are her best states. If you move more west, you get more rural, you get more Trump. Your state gets less educated.

This is a state where you have the more affluent population, you have a more college-educated population, you have a big suburban population, Virginia as a growing, growing suburban. That's why it has become so Democratic in recent years.

So if Nikki Haley can do it, this is where it would happen you just look at the 2016 Republican primary. You see that lighter red just in the Washington, D.C. suburbs, that's Marco Rubio. You see the darker red down here. That's Donald Trump.

This is Donald Trump's wheelhouse. Blue color, former Democrats in small towns and rural America, this is what he does. He runs it up, just pick a county and you go through these days, needs to turn that off do it, just pick a county and you turn it up, 35 percent there.

You move more rural and he goes up as he goes and then you get to a general election. You watched these counties in a general election in the presidential race. That's what happens.

Donald Trump will run it up in small town rural Virginia tonight, Jake. The question is, if Nikki Haley has any hope of being able to call her donors up late tonight and tomorrow and say, let's do another week, let's do more. It has to happen here.

I would not go to Vegas on that. Demographically, it's a state where she could make a statement. Can she beat Donald Trump? Can she beat Donald Trump? The map tells you so far most unlikely.

TAPPER: All right, John.