Your Voice Your Vote 2020

The Note: Sanders battles Biden and brutal news environment

As coronavirus fears continue, Biden gains endorsements, Sanders needs comeback.

The TAKE with Rick Klein

Those are complicated questions for head-spinning times. A race that was upended entirely last week needs equal and opposite drama to take place this week, with all eyes turning to Michigan as Tuesday's critical contest.

Except all eyes aren't really focused on politics at all. Concerns about novel coronavirus have started to impact the 2020 race -- not just in questions about President Donald Trump's management of a public-health crisis, but in what campaigning can even be like when people are worried about getting sick if they go out in public.

Sanders on Sunday rejected the notion that Michigan is make or break for his candidacy.

"We got a long, long way to go to the Democratic nomination," he told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" Sunday.

Because of Super Tuesday's surprises, Sanders now needs the campaign to last long enough for him to make up a delegate deficit. His rally sizes continue to dwarf Biden's – momentum and virus concerns aside.

As former rivals fall into line behind Biden, Sanders is blaming the "establishment" for trying to force an end to the primary season. But if Sanders can't come back, he really will have only voters -- and all their complicated motivations -- to blame.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Sunday was International Women's Day and over the weekend in the U.S. it was clear many Democratic voters -- especially women -- were frustrated that the choices left for their party's nomination are two white men and that the U.S. is not leading in terms of female leadership in elected office on the world stage.

Whether they were going to vote for Sen. Elizabeth Warren or not, Democratic voters grieved her exit from the race and what it said about their party and how voters view the country and a woman's chances.

Like Sanders, Warren had passionate voters, who loved her. They were the kind of voters who give money, take time off work to knock on doors and wait in line to vote.

Biden will be getting a lot of questions still about whether he has those kinds of voters and both Biden and Sanders now have an opportunity to speak to the pain that some voters are feeling about Warren's dropping out. Neither one of those men were the obvious picks for women's health care activists.

And over the weekend it is was telling that Sanders contrasted his record of support of some women's health priorities with Biden and put out a new women's health care plan, which industry leaders praised.

The move was a recognition that women -- of all stripes -- are key to any coalition and are where both of these Democratic candidates probably have room to grow among the demographic.

The TIP with Meg Cunningham

Michigan voters head to the polls on Tuesday and in light of the exodus of candidates from the Democratic field, a provision in the state's absentee voting law is getting a lot of use.

The provision allows voters to spoil their ballots should the candidate they originally voted for leave the race and they have until 4 p.m. Monday to change their decision in person.

As of Friday morning, 20,388 ballots had been spoiled, up from the morning of March 2, when the number was at 3,800. It's a sure sign that voters took advantage of their opportunity to change their support.

There's no way to tell how those votes were originally cast, but Democrats who voted in Super Tuesday states indicated in exit polls that they had chosen to vote for Biden mere days before casting their ballots. That means recast ballots in Michigan could propel him over the finish line in the coveted battleground state, which boasts 125 pledged delegates.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Monday morning’s episode features ABC News Chief National Correspondent Matt Gutman on the new cruise ship warning from the State Department as the number of novel coronavirus cases in the U.S. grows. Then, ABC News' Rachel Scott checks in from the campaign trail in Michigan where Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is hoping for a comeback win on Tuesday. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast. In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast's "Model Talk," Nate Silver explains why the Democratic primary forecast shifted significantly in Biden's favor this week. He also discusses changes he's made to the model and why a comeback would be so challenging for the Sanders campaign.https://53eig.ht/2TrN6xE

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • President Donald Trump participates in a roundtable with supporters at 11:45 a.m. and delivers remarks at a fundraising committee luncheon at 12:15 p.m., in Longwood, Florida.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden attends a Get Out the Vote event in Detroit at 7 p.m., with Sen. Kamala Harris, who endorsed Biden on Sunday.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders participates in a Get Out the Vote rally in St. Louis at 11 a.m. (CDT).
  • Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the day's sharpest political analysis.

    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.