Super Tuesday: Candidate list narrows dramatically as Americans go to polls

Klobuchar and Buttigieg to endorse Biden as Sanders remains the front-runner

Former Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg has annouced the end of his presidential campaign. The 38 year-old veteran was the first openly gay candidate to run for the Democratic nomination. Video: Reuters

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Millions of Americans go to the polls today to cast their vote for their preferred Democratic presidential nominee, with the field of candidates vying to take on Donald Trump in November’s presidential election having narrowed dramatically.

On the eve of the Super Tuesday contests, Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar became the third Democratic hopeful since Saturday to suspend campaigning, joining Pete Buttigieg and Tom Steyer who ended their efforts in recent days.  

Ms Klobuchar and Mr Buttigieg were expected to fly to Texas last night to endorse former vice-president Joe Biden at a campaign event, a significant boost for the 78-year-old candidate.

Mr Biden, whose primary campaign has largely failed to capture the public imagination, is hoping to capitalise on his resounding victory in South Carolina on Saturday, where he won an impressive 48 per cent of the vote and showed his popularity among African-Americans.

But Vermont senator Bernie Sanders – who narrowly lost the 2016 Democratic nomination to Hillary Clinton – remains the front-runner going into Super Tuesday, which sees more than a dozen states as well as overseas territories hold primaries.

Following victories in New Hampshire and Nevada, as well as winning the popular vote in Iowa, Mr Sanders is well ahead in the polls. Crucially, he is ahead in California – the biggest state in the union, with the largest number of pledged delegates needed to secure the party’s nomination at the Democratic National Convention, which takes place in Milwaukee in July.

It will be the first time former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg will be on the ballot, having made the strategic decision to sit out the first four primary states. The billionaire businessman was continuing to dominate TV advertising across the US on Monday and said he had no plans to drop out.

Tough battle

Elizabeth Warren, the only woman left in the race, is hoping to sweep up delegates in several states having not yet won a primary contest. But she could be facing a tough battle in her home state of Massachusetts, where Mr Sanders has been rising in the polls and attracting huge crowds to campaign events.

The withdrawal of the high-profile centrist candidates in recent days may be an effort to consolidate the party’s moderate wing after Mr Sanders surged ahead.

Mr Buttigieg and Ms Klobuchar occupy similar ideological ground to Mr Biden, whose campaign is arguing that he is the best candidate to stop Mr Sanders winning the nomination – an outcome they believe would hand November’s election to Mr Trump.

But Mr Sanders has created a formidable ground campaign, rooted in strong support among young voters and Latinos. A third of all delegates will be decided in the Super Tuesday contests, with a clutch of important states then due to vote on March 10th and March 17th.