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  • JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I'm Judy Woodruff.

  • On the "NewsHour" tonight: The federal government grapples with the fallout from COVID-19. New

  • York state sets up a containment zone. And more schools across the country send students

  • home.

  • Then: Voters in six states head to the polls, as Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders battle it

  • out for the Democratic presidential nomination.

  • Plus: coronavirus and the crown -- to a United Kingdom preparing for the outbreak, where

  • reactions range from the scrupulous to the skeptical.

  • GORDON ROBINSON, Mental Health Worker: Football's got to continue. You can't stop things. You

  • cannot stop your way of living because of a virus that's only killed a few people at

  • this moment in time.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF: All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour."

  • (BREAK)

  • JUDY WOODRUFF: We have two big stories tonight.

  • We will get to the latest on the coronavirus and the government's response to the spread

  • across the U.S.

  • But, first, voters in six states went to the polls, as the race for the Democratic nomination

  • narrows between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.

  • Here are the results that we are able to share at this hour.

  • In Michigan, the most contested state in this election tonight, Joe Biden now the projected

  • winner. Polls have just closed in the state of Michigan.

  • In Mississippi, Joe Biden also the projected winner.

  • And in North Dakota, the caucus there closed an hour ago, the results still coming in.

  • And voting continues for two more hours in Idaho and in Washington state.

  • There is no question, though, that the state of Michigan is the crown Jewel of this election

  • night. Both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders have put considerable time and resources toward

  • the Great Lakes State.

  • So that is where we will begin tonight.

  • Christy McDonald has been following the Michigan primary. She's a reporter and anchor for our

  • partners at Detroit Public TV.

  • So, Christy, the -- we are able to project that Joe Biden is the winner. What do you

  • attribute it to? You have been following. You have been talking to voters throughout.

  • CHRISTY MCDONALD, Detroit Public Television: Yes, this is really a blow for Bernie Sanders.

  • He was trying to build on what he was able to do here in Michigan four years ago, Judy.

  • But from the voters that we have been talking to in the last several weeks, and especially

  • since we saw, Super Tuesday, a lot of the candidates get out of the race and coalesce

  • around Joe Biden, was, who was going to be able to beat Donald Trump in November?

  • They share a lot of the same feelings, the voters do, about health care, importance there,

  • the economy, wage stagnation. But, again, everyone is really rallying around the thought

  • of, we have had three-and-a-half years of a President Trump administration. Who can

  • beat him in November?

  • JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you have an understanding, Christy, from talking to voters who supported

  • Bernie Sanders four years ago, when he did pull out a win over Hillary Clinton? It was

  • narrow, but he won.

  • What's happened to that support for him?

  • CHRISTY MCDONALD: Well, what happened in 2016 in Michigan, it's a very different Michigan

  • now in 2020.

  • You have seen a flip in 2018. We took back two congressional seats -- the Democrats did.

  • And then you saw a Democratic governor come in, as well as a Democratic secretary of state

  • and attorney general.

  • And so there has been a real shift in the mind-set here. And it's really looking more

  • towards electability. So, when they say, Joe Biden, he has been there through the test

  • of time, he's been here a long time in the Democratic Party, is he going to be the one

  • who's going to be able to take on Donald Trump and win and end a Trump presidency after four

  • years?

  • Bernie Sanders, while he -- again, we talk about how many of the young demographic, the

  • 18 to 35, are big supporters of Bernie Sanders, but he wasn't able to build upon that. He

  • also has a lot of outreach for Hispanic voters and also for Muslim Americans, who live here

  • in the state of Michigan, but he wasn't able to expand upon that base.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF: Christy McDonald, reporting for us from Detroit.

  • Christy, thank you so much.

  • CHRISTY MCDONALD: Mm-hmm.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF: And now on to Mississippi.

  • It's the only Southern state holding a contest today. Southern states that voted on Super

  • Tuesday broke for Joe Biden over Bernie Sanders.

  • And the Associated Press, as we said, is projecting tonight that Mississippi is following suit.

  • Adam Ganucheau is following the primary there. He is a political reporter for the nonprofit

  • newsroom at Mississippi Today.

  • Adam, based on what you see, how do you explain the big win of -- evidently, the big win for

  • Joe Biden?

  • ADAM GANUCHEAU, Mississippi Today: Sure.

  • Like I said earlier in the evening, Mississippi's Democratic primary electorate is close to

  • 75 percent African-American. African-Americans in this state, because, I think, of their

  • trust in former President Barack Obama and, because of that trust, their trust in former

  • Vice President Joe Biden, I think that went a long way in this race.

  • Looking at some exit polls that were conducted, it looks like Joe Biden got roughly 84 percent

  • of the African-American vote in Mississippi. So, again, knowing that the African-American

  • electorate makes up three-fourths or close to three-fourths of that Democratic primary

  • electorate, I think that kind of explains it all here.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF: It was interesting that Bernie Sanders had a campaign event scheduled in

  • Mississippi, and he canceled it in order to head to Michigan.

  • ADAM GANUCHEAU: That's right, yes.

  • I think a lot of people in the state, when Senator Sanders decided to cancel that visit,

  • and instead go to Michigan to try to pick up some of the heavy primary voters there,

  • a lot of people in Mississippi resented that. They thought -- they thought of that as sort

  • of disrespect in a lot of ways. And that certainly didn't help, I don't think, any rise in Sanders'

  • candidacy, specifically within that African-American community in Mississippi.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF: And we should say, Adam, that as much as Joe Biden may be celebrating about

  • Mississippi tonight, it's a tough hill for him to climb in November, when he's -- if

  • he's the nominee, up against President Trump.

  • ADAM GANUCHEAU: That's right.

  • Here in Mississippi, this is a ruby-red state. It's one of President Trump's strongholds

  • of any state in the country. This is, like I said, a conservative state. We will definitely

  • on -- in November, early November, we will be having a conversation about just how well

  • President Trump did here, undoubtedly.

  • But, look, I think there are still -- in Mississippi, even, there are moderate voters who may have

  • not necessarily appreciated some of what President Trump has done in his first three-and-a-half

  • years in office.

  • And, certainly, as this year progresses, we will see what happens. But sure, this is certainly

  • a stronghold for President Trump. And that will play out in November.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF: Adam Ganucheau with Mississippi Today, thank you, Adam.

  • And now to Missouri, one of the closest primary contests of the 2016 election cycle. Bernie

  • Sanders lost the Democratic primary there to eventual nominee Hillary Clinton by less

  • than half of a percentage point.

  • Tonight, the Associated Press is projecting that Joe Biden will prevail over Sanders in

  • Missouri this year.

  • So, Jason Rosenbaum has been following the contest, a political correspondent for St.

  • Louis Public Radio.

  • Jason, it's the Show Me State. What is it that Joe Biden showed to the voters?

  • JASON ROSENBAUM, St. Louis Public Radio: He showed that Bernie Sanders' campaign for president

  • may have ended tonight.

  • And that may seem like hyperbole, but the fact that the Associated Press called Missouri

  • within two or three minutes, when it was only, as you mentioned, less than a half-a-percentage

  • point in 2016, showcases that Sanders could not build on the coalition he had in 2016,

  • and that voters in Missouri and other places that are considered either Midwestern or Southern

  • states are going toward the former vice president's column.

  • This is a huge triumph for Biden, and a big psychological defeat for Bernie Sanders.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF: And we should say that this call was made with just -- it looks like,

  • from what we were just showing there on the map, just 4 percent of the precincts reporting.

  • But that means the interviews with voters today and the days leading up to today's vote

  • strongly suggest that Joe Biden is way out front.

  • What were voters telling you in the -- Jason, in the days leading up to the primary about

  • what mattered to them the most as they cast their ballots?

  • JASON ROSENBAUM: It all came down to which candidate will stack up best against President

  • Donald Trump.

  • Missouri is probably not going to be the battleground state it was in 2000, 2004, 2008. But Missouri

  • Democrats here need a better top-of-the-ticket person than Hillary Clinton. When Hillary

  • Clinton was at the top of the ticket in 2016, she lost the state by nearly 20 percentage

  • points.

  • And that doomed down-ballot candidates like Chris Koster for governor and Jason Kander

  • for Senate. People like state Auditor Nicole Galloway, who's going to be running in a competitive

  • race for governor against incumbent Governor Mike Parson,s need someone like Joe Biden

  • to close that gap in order to win.

  • So, even though Missouri is not the battleground it used to be, the result tonight, I think,

  • is heartening for a lot of Missouri Democrats.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF: Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio, we thank you.

  • JASON ROSENBAUM: Thank you.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF: And all the way out West to Washington state, where voters are still able

  • to submit their ballots for a little more than an hour-and-a-half. It has the second

  • biggest pot of delegates up for grabs on this election night.

  • And Donna Blankinship is keeping track of the primary there. She is the political editor

  • at KCTS-9 Crosscut. That is the PBS member station based in Seattle.

  • Donna, when you and I spoke earlier this evening, you were telling me about what voters were

  • confronted with -- it's a state with mail-in ballots. Earlier in this contest, you had

  • a number of candidates running, most of whom have dropped out, presenting a dilemma for

  • a lot of voters.

  • DONNA BLANKINSHIP, KCTS-9 Crosscut: Right.

  • I just talked to a bunch of voters yesterday. And they said that they had to make their

  • second or third choice when they ended up voting. Some of them voted before the candidates

  • dropped out. So, that's why our pollster thinks -- one of the reasons our pollster thinks

  • that Joe Biden is probably going to win this election in Washington.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF: And we also have spoken, Donna, about the fact that Washington state had caucuses,

  • as well as a primary beauty contest four years ago. This year is just the primary.

  • DONNA BLANKINSHIP: Right.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF: How does that affect, do you think, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders in this

  • contest?

  • DONNA BLANKINSHIP: Well, it gives us a wider view of what the voters in Washington are

  • thinking.

  • The caucuses attracted a small, select group of voters. And a primary has always been more

  • people showing up. That means that Washington, which has a variety of Democrats in our state,

  • will -- all their voices will be heard this time.

  • So it's more likely -- I would just be speculating, I guess that the tendency is to go toward

  • more a moderate choice. That's probably why Hillary Clinton won the primary last time