At least it wasn’t a total disaster.
Things could have gone horribly wrong in the Nevada caucuses this year, especially after the total collapse that was Iowa. Fortunately, even with some delayed results, we knew fairly early that Bernie Sanders won by a landslide.
Here’s three things we learned from Nevada.
1) Bernie Sanders will be the Democratic nominee.
The one argument that persisted through Iowa and New Hampshire to detract from Sanders’ strong finishes was his support among voters of color. Given that the first two states are some of the whitest in the nation, the Joe Biden camp publicly believed that as voting turned to more diverse populations, the tables would turn.
But in Nevada, that wasn’t the case.
According to POLITICO, Sanders won 53 percent of the Hispanic vote across the state, and 27 percent of African Americans. It eviscerated the arguments of other camps and, at the same time, proved that Sanders is more than just a factional candidate.
2) Sanders is more than just a factional candidate, but not much more.
Previously, I believed that to be his biggest weakness (aside from age). He had failed to build on his base from 2016, losing much of his vote and never expanding past the Bernie Bros that made him successful. Even in Iowa and New Hampshire, states that should have been powerhouses for a candidate like Sanders, he failed to build bridges.
I thought that would be a problem. I thought that even if he did make it through to the general election, he wouldn’t be able to build the broad support of the Democratic party. But of course, as with so many things, I was wrong. (Although not completely — I’ll explain why.)
Sanders won 40.4 percent of the final vote, showing that he can at least grow his support to include those that are somewhat out of his base. And, as explained before, the base that he won from was diverse, not just racially but also in terms of age (he won every age group besides 65+) and working status (he won 34 percent of union workers).
But on the other hand, the number of 46.8 percent fed to the public is slightly misleading. Yes, it shows that he can win and win big — and the number is almost identical to his winnings in 2016, with a far smaller candidate list — but looking at the initial numbers (34 percent of first alignment and 40 percent in final alignment) does deflate the bubble a bit. And 34 percent doesn’t look much larger than his coalition did at the start of this race.
3) No one is going to drop out.
At this point in the race, you would think we’d be down to just a few candidates. And once again this cycle, the conventional wisdom has been proven wrong.
Even after Sanders obliterated the competition, no one has dropped out. There’s no possibility for a candidate like Tom Steyer or Amy Klobuchar to win the nomination, and yet, they’re hanging on to every last vote they can, even if it means nothing.
At least for some candidates, like Steyer, it makes sense. He has nothing to lose, and he will likely do better in South Carolina; at least it will make him look good. But for someone like Amy Klobuchar, who already has a job as a senator and will likely only embarrass herself with voters of color, it makes no sense.
The only plausible reason for remaining in the race is the possibility of a contested convention. According to FiveThirtyEight, the odds of no candidate winning a majority of pledged delegates sits at 40 percent, with only Sanders having a better chance, at 47 percent. After his success in Nevada, you would expect his chances of winning to be higher.
But in the case of a contested convention, someone like Elizabeth Warren or (less likely) Amy Klobuchar could emerge as the compromise candidate, someone who has largely stayed out of the fray and could rise above it all to take the nomination. Everything is on the table if there’s a contested convention.
In the end, no matter how you look at the data, Nevada was an unquestionable success for Sanders, and a loss for every other candidate.
On to South Carolina.
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