Domenico Montanaro

Domenico Montanaro is NPR's lead editor for politics and digital audience. Based in Washington, D.C., he directs political coverage across the network's broadcast and digital platforms.

Before joining NPR in 2015, Montanaro served as political director and senior producer for politics and law at PBS NewsHour. There, he led domestic political and legal coverage, which included the 2014 midterm elections, the Supreme Court and the unrest in Ferguson, Mo.

Prior to PBS NewsHour, Montanaro was deputy political editor at NBC News, where he covered two presidential elections and reported and edited for the network's political blog, "First Read." He has also worked at CBS News, ABC News, The Asbury Park Press in New Jersey, and has taught high-school English.

Montanaro earned a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Delaware and a master's degree in Journalism from Columbia University

A native of Queens, N.Y., Montanaro is a die-hard Mets fan and college-basketball junkie.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton currently lead the delegate counts for the presidential nomination. But because of the difference in how both parties award their delegates, Clinton's is the more commanding lead.


Michigan is an important test for Sanders

Tuesday's Democratic contest in Michigan, the biggest prize of the day, is key for Bernie Sanders to show he can turn things around. His campaign has argued that Clinton has ballooned her lead because of black voters in the South.

There's a first time for everything. That's certainly held true in this campaign dominated by Donald Trump.

And Republicans opposed to Trump are beginning to abandon the idea that Marco Rubio (or anyone else) can win a majority of delegates before the first round of balloting at this summer's GOP convention in Cleveland, where the party will officially pick its nominee.

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Hillary Clinton goes into Super Tuesday with a 26-pledged-delegate lead (91-65) over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. She also has a 433-superdelegate lead (453-20).

In crunching some numbers, an NPR analysis finds one very rosy scenario for Sanders in which he comes out with the majority of pledged delegates on Super Tuesday. This is considered unlikely, but it's his best possible day.

The phrase "Super Tuesday" first emerged in 1980, when three Southern states — Alabama, Florida and Georgia — held their primaries on the same day.

It grew to nine in 1984. But the modern-day Super Tuesday was born in 1988, when a dozen Southern states on the Democratic side, upset with the nomination of Walter Mondale four years earlier and frustrated with being out of power in the White House for 20 years save for one term of Jimmy Carter, banded together to try to nominate someone more moderate.

It backfired.

More than a dozen states vote Tuesday, and almost 1,500 delegates are at stake. It's the biggest day of the 2016 presidential election, and it could be pivotal.

Seven Southern states are voting Tuesday — Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. That means on the Democratic side, black voters will play a pivotal role. (Six of those states, except Oklahoma, have significant black populations in Democratic primaries.) But for the GOP, those same Southern states mean a more socially conservative, more religious electorate.

Everyone's talking about "Super Tuesday," what it means and that it's such a big deal in this presidential campaign. But why? Here's a quick explainer. Think of it as a frequently asked questions for Super Tuesday:

What is Super Tuesday? It's when more states vote and more delegates are at stake than on any other single day in the presidential primary campaign.

The Appointment Clause of the Constitution (Article II, Section 2, Clause 2) states that the president "shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint ... Judges of the Supreme Court."

President Obama struck a somber tone, remembering the late-Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia as a "towering legal mind" who influenced a generation, but made it clear, he intends to replace him.

"I plan to fulfill my constitutional responsibilities to nominate a successor in — due time," Obama said. "There will be plenty of time for me to do so, and for the Senate to fulfill its responsibility to give that person a fair hearing and a timely vote."

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A lot of Republicans will head to the polls in New Hampshire on Tuesday, motivated to vote against Donald Trump.

But because of a quirk in how the state party allocates delegates and how fractured the "establishment" field is, it could mean that an anti-Trump vote will actually be a vote for the New York billionaire.

Here's how:

The state party awards delegates on a proportional basis to presidential candidates based on their vote statewide and by congressional district.

But it also has a 10 percent threshold.

Iowa and New Hampshire get a lot of attention, but their records in picking presidents, let alone nominees, is spotty (as you can see from the chart above). But that doesn't mean the states don't matter. They have been effective at weeding the field of candidates, and they're about momentum for those later states.

Plus, in the last 40 years, just one person has gone on to win the presidency after losing both Iowa and New Hampshire — Bill Clinton.

Here's how the predictability of the states breaks down by party:

People are complicated.

That was certainly true of Vincent A. Cianci, better known as Buddy. He was the enigmatic former mayor of Providence, who died Thursday morning at the age of 74.

Donald Trump said this week if he went out on Fifth Avenue in New York and shot someone, he probably wouldn't lose any votes.

He chose a pretty big someone — Fox News (whose offices are one block over from Fifth).

Tune in to Thursday night's Republican debate on Fox (9 p.m. EST) in Iowa, the last one before Monday's caucuses, and you'll notice one very big elephant not in the room — Trump. The man who helped Fox to a record 24 million viewers in the first primary debate of this campaign season won't be there.

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It's something we hear in every election season. Don't obsess over polls. Go tell it to Donald Trump.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: So CNN came out 33 for Trump; 20 for Cruz. That's good.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yeah.

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Thursday's main Republican debate airs on Fox Business Network beginning at 9 p.m. EST.

The Kentucky county clerk who went to jail over her refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples will attend President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night, a group supporting her announced.

With voting in the first presidential nominating contests just weeks away, Bernie Sanders is trying to make a push before the end of the year.

His campaign announced that he has surpassed 2 million donations. The only other person to do that at this point in a presidential campaign was Barack Obama in 2011. (Clinton had 600,000 donations from 400,000 donors through the end of the third quarter — end of September.)

President Obama's rhetoric is a familiar punching bag for Republicans running to replace him. In particular, they focus on his reluctance to say the phrase "radical Islamic terrorism."

Inevitably, as news breaks of yet another international or domestic event — an explosion in Texas, a train derailment outside Philadelphia, a Molotov cocktail thrown into a nightclub in Egypt, a shooting in Colorado or California — there's one question never far from Americans' lips: "Is it terrorism?"

Even many who don't want to generalize wonder, "What do we know about the shooter — was he or she Muslim?"

President Obama struck an optimistic tone Tuesday on the second day of the Paris climate talks. But he also touched on the domestic political difficulty in a country still heavily reliant on coal — and when it comes to dealing with Republicans on the issue.

Editor's note: This story was originally posted last year. Some information was updated on Nov. 22, 2016.

The annual presidential turkey pardoning event at the White House is a strange one. This year is President Obama's eighth and last one, but he still seems confused.

"It is a little puzzling that I do this every year," Obama said in 2014.

"I know some folks think this tradition is a little silly," he said a year later. "I do not disagree."

The president has made the event something of an annual dad joke.

Assad must go.

That's been the Obama administration hard line since the U.S. charged the Syrian dictator, Bashar Assad, used chemical weapons against his own people.

But Hillary Clinton, Obama's former secretary of state, might not exactly agree.

"There is no alternative to a political transition that allows Syrians to end Assad's rule," Clinton said in her national-security address before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on Thursday.

Seem plain enough, right? Not exactly.

This post was updated at 9:23 p.m. ET

The next president will have to make some very big decisions about how to combat terrorism.

Paris, Beirut and the bombing of a Russian jetliner make that abundantly clear, 14 years after Sept. 11, the worst terrorist attacks on American soil. To listen to the presidential candidates, however, is to listen to two very distinctly different worldviews.

Updated at 1:22 a.m. ET

In the wake of controversy of any kind, even terrorist attacks, U.S. politics is never far behind. The American political response — from President Obama to the candidates vying to replace him — in the hours following the Paris attacks has been unsurprisingly split along party lines.

What is interesting, however, is that Democrats, who are set to debate Saturday night, have kept their responses generally to thoughts and prayers — with little in the way of policy prescriptions.

"Front-runner" can be a tenuous word. But when it comes to at least one group, Hillary Clinton is far and away the leader — the Democratic Party establishment.

There's no better measure of that establishment than unpledged party leaders and elected official delegates, better known as "superdelegates."

Among this group, Clinton leads Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders 359 to 8, according to an AP survey of the group that will help elect the nominee at the Democratic National Convention in July. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley has two people supporting him from this group.

Voters in Louisiana get to start their weekend off seeing this ad:

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