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Vermont And Virginia Polls Close On Super Tuesday


It's Super Tuesday with 14 states voting today, and the first polls have closed. In Virginia, the Associated Press projects vice president - former Vice President Joe Biden will win. Polls have also closed in Vermont, the home state of Senator Bernie Sanders. To get up to speed with what we are seeing in these early returns, NPR's Domenico Montanaro is here in the studio with us.

Hi, Domenico.


SHAPIRO: So what do you read into these results from Virginia?

MONTANARO: Well, Virginia being a poll close (ph) call for Joe Biden is really significant, having him win there right away. Look; he had...

SHAPIRO: Didn't take time to count the votes - it was a decisive win.

MONTANARO: That's right. That - they do that because they can see that in the exit polls, that the data that they've gotten in shows such a commanding lead for Joe Biden that no matter what the results wind up showing, they have confidence that he will wind up with the lion's share of what comes out. And we saw that in Nevada for Bernie Sanders. We saw that in South Carolina for Joe Biden and here again in Virginia.

And that's really interesting because Mike Bloomberg had spent so much money on ads in Virginia. He'd appeared there several times. And it does look like, if you're looking for an indication of this Biden surge and if it's happening, it's certainly happened in Virginia because you've got Joe Biden winning across the board and Mike Bloomberg looking like he might not even get any delegates.

SHAPIRO: So to remind listeners, Biden had not been doing very well in the early voting states until South Carolina just last Saturday, where he dominated and then got the endorsements of three of his former rivals. And the question was, was there enough time for him to really take advantage of this bounce? Based just on Virginia, seems like the answer may be yes.

MONTANARO: It looks like there is at least something of a surge in Virginia for Joe Biden. If you think about - the electorate was 27% African American. Joe Biden won two-thirds of them. Among those who are white voters, they were 64% of the electorate. And Biden still won them by 20 points, so that tells you that the split that was - that could have happened didn't happen as much with Mike Bloomberg. Bernie Sanders looks like he'll get his share of delegates but much further back from Joe Biden.

SHAPIRO: And speaking of Bernie Sanders, what's happening in Vermont?

MONTANARO: In Vermont, you know, we don't have a call yet when it comes to Bernie Sanders' home state. They're probably waiting for some data to come in. The Associated Press is who we rely on for these calls. Other TV networks may have different calls through the night. People should realize that. But Bernie Sanders is expected to do quite well there.

SHAPIRO: I want to bring in NPR's Asma Khalid, who is with the Biden campaign in Los Angeles tonight. And, Asma, what's the reaction there to this early return?

ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: Well, Joe Biden himself hasn't yet met up with us. I'm at a local stop at a restaurant in Los Angeles. He's supposed to walk in in just about a minute, so we'll get a better sense of things. But I will say I was with him earlier today, and he acknowledged that he expected to do well in Virginia as well as in, possibly, North Carolina and even Texas. So, you know, as Domenico was saying, I think it was unclear to us exactly what the coalescing of some of these moderate candidates around the Biden candidacy would mean. I think the swift call for Virginia makes it very clear that he is seeing some sort of positive benefit from that coalescing around him.

SHAPIRO: You have been following the Biden campaign from the beginning. How much of a change have you seen since his South Carolina victory?

KHALID: Ari, it's a remarkable change. When I was out with him in Iowa and New Hampshire, Biden himself would often give these kind of meandering, long speeches. I met people - voters there who would tell me they'd come, see his events and weren't particularly sold after seeing him. The events were not really high-energy.

I was with him, in contrast, last night in Dallas, where Amy Klobuchar and Beto O'Rourke endorsed him on stage. And it was just a really electrifying atmosphere. The crowd was really enthusiastic. Biden himself seemed to have energy. And he's acknowledged that, you know, in comments with reporters today, saying that, you know, he feels this momentum. They feel this energy. They've been raising a lot of money as well in just the last couple of days.

SHAPIRO: That is NPR's Asma Khalid with the Biden campaign in Los Angeles. We've also got NPR's Domenico Montanaro. And we are going to be having a lot more returns as they come in throughout the night. This is the earliest chapter of this story.

Thanks to you both.

MONTANARO: You're welcome.

KHALID: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Domenico Montanaro is NPR's senior political editor/correspondent. Based in Washington, D.C., his work appears on air and online delivering analysis of the political climate in Washington and campaigns. He also helps edit political coverage.
Asma Khalid is a White House correspondent for NPR. She also co-hosts The NPR Politics Podcast.