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

Go deeper

Updated 3 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.