Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Paras Griffin/WireImage

The Bernie Sanders diehards packing his rallies would love to live in a world with Medicare for All, free college and higher taxes on the rich — but they mostly know that's a distant dream. Instead, they're fueled by the movement he's promising to build.

Why it matters: Sanders, on a delegate roll heading into today's 14-state Super Tuesday voting, is looking more and more like a liberal incarnation of Donald Trump circa 2016 — a cultural force who transcends party or policies.

  • His followers have extreme enthusiasm — and modest expectations.

We interviewed more than two dozen Sanders rally-goers over the past week in Virginia, which votes today, and in South Carolina.

  • Sanders' progressive platform might spook his critics. But for his base, it's mostly about finally having a champion for these progressive values in the White House — not about actually changing the laws right away.

What they're saying: "If he doesn't get it done, it's not because he won't try," said Colton Fagundes, a supporter who said he expects student loan forgiveness under a Sanders presidency.

  • "Obama gave so many olive branches," Fagundes complained.
  • Luke Waldrop, 23, said it's "really just about changing the zeitgeist and American politics."
  • "He's always toed the same line," said voter David Small. "The poor and disenfranchised will feel like they have a real advocate."

The big picture: Moderate Democrats including Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg and former candidates Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar have been arguing that Sanders wouldn't be able to accomplish much of what he's promising because even Democrats in Congress won't go along with him.

Sanders has been asked about his ability to compromise, and he's been lambasted by institutions including the New York Times editorial board over such concerns. But several supporters said an unwillingness to compromise — even if it means not getting something done — isn't a turnoff.

  • "We could have had a single-payer system in 2008, but we were too focused on compromising with Republicans — he's not going to do that," voter Joe Potischman said of Sanders.
  • "If he doesn't get things done, it's not because he didn't want to," said supporter Sofien Benslimane. "It's because someone stopped him."

Supporters do believe Sanders would have an easy time legalizing marijuana, creating protections for DACA recipients and eliminating student loan debt because he could circumvent Congress and use executive orders.

The bottom line: Many Sanders voters see Trump as having paved the way for a President Sanders.

  • Sanders supporter Jamal Jilao said, "I hope the time of being fearful of using executive orders has been laid to rest."

Go deeper:

Bernie Sanders' pipe dreams

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Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 12,859,834 — Total deaths: 567,123 — Total recoveries — 7,062,085Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 3,297,501— Total deaths: 135,155 — Total recoveries: 1,006,326 — Total tested: 40,282,176Map.
  3. States: Florida smashes single-day record for new coronavirus cases with over 15,000 — NYC reports zero coronavirus deaths for first time since pandemic hit.
  4. Public health: Ex-FDA chief projects "apex" of South's coronavirus curve in 2-3 weeks — Coronavirus testing czar: Lockdowns in hotspots "should be on the table"
  5. Education: Betsy DeVos says schools that don't reopen shouldn't get federal funds — Pelosi accuses Trump of "messing with the health of our children."

Scoop: How the White House is trying to trap leakers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has told several White House staffers he's fed specific nuggets of information to suspected leakers to see if they pass them on to reporters — a trap that would confirm his suspicions. "Meadows told me he was doing that," said one former White House official. "I don't know if it ever worked."

Why it matters: This hunt for leakers has put some White House staffers on edge, with multiple officials telling Axios that Meadows has been unusually vocal about his tactics. So far, he's caught only one person, for a minor leak.

11 GOP congressional nominees support QAnon conspiracy

Lauren Boebert posing in her restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, on April 24. Photo: Emily Kask/AFP

At least 11 Republican congressional nominees have publicly supported or defended the QAnon conspiracy theory movement or some of its tenets — and more aligned with the movement may still find a way onto ballots this year.

Why it matters: Their progress shows how a fringe online forum built on unsubstantiated claims and flagged as a threat by the FBI is seeking a foothold in the U.S. political mainstream.