Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Leading Democrats suddenly see their primary as a clear, two-person race — with Mike Bloomberg as the likely odd man out.

Why it matters: The Biden team feels like "a clear choice" is emerging between him and Bernie Sanders, a campaign aide told Axios' Alexi McCammond.

The state of play: South Carolina was a wake-up call for the establishment, Axios' Margaret Talev emails.

  • The Rep. Clyburn surge (tons of voters told exit pollsters his endorsement affected their vote) shows endorsements still matter. Terry McAuliffe follows.
  • President Obama let it be known he called Biden, even if he won't endorse yet.
  • Harry Reid jumps on the train.
  • Pete Buttigieg wants a future so he drops out and will endorse Biden early enough to not get blamed if Sanders runs away with it.
  • Amy Klobuchar may lose Minnesota anyway plus could be a good VP choice if Biden survives, so she endorses too.

Bloomberg, campaigning in Virginia, addressed the Buttigieg/Klobuchar endorsements:

  • “I thought both of them behaved themselves, is a nice way to phrase it, but they represented their country and their states very well. ... And I felt sorry for them, but I’m in it to win it.”

Flashback: The nascent Never Trump movement split votes well past Super Tuesday in 2016, with Gov. John Kasich and Sen. Marco Rubio hanging on in hopes of winning their states.

  • That denied Sen. Ted Cruz or another candidate a chance to unify the non-Trump vote.

The bottom line: The non-Bernie/Warren wing of the field is coalescing around Biden before Super Tuesday, rather than when it's too late.

Go deeper: Biden racks up endorsements one day before Super Tuesday

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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87, the Supreme Court announced Friday evening.

Why it matters: Ginsburg had suffered from serious health issues over the past few years. Her death sets up a fight over filling a Supreme Court seat with less than 50 days until the election.

NYT: White House drug price negotiations broke down over $100 "Trump Cards"

President Trump with Mark Meadows, his chief of staff, on Sept. 3 at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Negotiations on a deal between the White House and pharmaceutical industry to lower drug prices broke down last month after Mark Meadows, the president's chief of staff, insisted that drugmakers pay for $100 cash cards to be mailed to seniors before the election, according to the New York Times.

Why it matters: Some of the drug companies feared that in agreeing to the prescription cards — reportedly dubbed "Trump Cards" by some in the pharmaceutical industry — they would boost Trump's political standing weeks ahead of Election Day with voters over 65, a group that is crucial to the president's reelection bid, per the Times.

In photos: Virginians line up for hours on first day of early voting

Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

In some parts of Virginia, people waited in line up to four hours to cast their ballots on the first day of early voting, according to the Washington Post.

The big picture: The COVID-19 pandemic seems to already have an impact on how people cast their votes this election season. As many as 80 million Americans are expected to vote early, by mail or in person, Tom Bonier, CEO of TargetSmart, a Democratic political data firm, told Axios in August.