As the state of Nevada sweeps up the wreckage from last night’s caucuses, a sense of shock seems to be taking over large segments of the Democratic Party. The general consensus was that Bernie Sanders certainly did well in Iowa and New Hampshire, but he would struggle in states with a more diverse electorate. At least for the moment, the Vermont Senator has quieted those voices down. As of 7:30 eastern time this morning, with roughly half of the precincts reporting, Bernie was riding a 39% victory over Biden and Buttigieg, who were in a statistical tie at 18%. Elizabeth Warren managed to wrangle 14%. Even more importantly, Bernie is currently projected to take almost 47% of the delegates. The exit polls don’t provide any indication that those numbers are likely to shift very much when all the counting is finished.
The details of Sanders’ blowout win show that it wasn’t just white male socialists turning out for him. As The Hill points out, there really wasn’t a single demographic area where Sanders wasn’t at least competitive, if not clearly leading.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) won a resounding victory at the Nevada caucuses on Saturday, putting together a coalition of young people, Latinos and working class voters to cement his status as front-runner in the race for the Democratic nomination…
Sanders has built a diverse coalition of Latinos, young people, and union members, who drove him to a huge victory in Nevada, the most diverse state to vote so far.
Sanders won among men, women, whites, union and non-union voters. He won among Black and Latino caucusgoers. He even matched Biden among self-described moderates. He pretty much cleaned up. Now, this is still far from an insurmountable lead, despite what you might be hearing on cable news this morning. But if he can come anywhere near this level of performance next Saturday in South Carolina and then on Super Tuesday, this thing really could be over.
Meanwhile, the rest of the candidates struggled to paint some lipstick on this pig. Buttigieg was the most grounded and realistic of the bunch. With another second-place finish, there’s clearly no reason for him to drop out. Unfortunately, the moderate lane remains splintered, much to Sanders’ benefit.
Joe Biden held a rally in Las Vegas and his comments raised more questions about just how firm his grip on the narrative really is. He told his supporters, “Y’all did it for me! Now we’re on our way to South Carolina!”
Excuse me, but what precisely did they do for you? You didn’t even manage half the support that Bernie received. Normally I would write this off as the usual cheerleading candidates do to try to keep enthusiasm levels high. But given how Biden now seems to believe that he was arrested in South Africa for some reason, I’m not entirely sure. Might Joe have been thinking he was actually doing far better than he was last night?
Of course, Joe wasn’t alone in that sort of behavior. Elizabeth Warren thanked her supporters for “keeping me in the fight” at a rally last night. I’m not sure how a fourth-place finish, barely into double digits, keeps her in the fight. But if she drops out, it’s a safe bet that a lot of her support will migrate to Bernie. If that’s the case, he might start breaking 50% in some of the other primary states and at that point, we can probably stick a fork in this thing. (At least until the superdelegates steal the nomination from him at the convention and give it to Bloomberg if he doesn’t get to 51%.)
I’m still far from ready to call this race, however. Stranger things can and do happen in primary battles. As I alluded to above, Bloomberg remains the real wildcard to watch starting on March 3rd. And if either of Biden or Buttigieg drops out early enough, they have enough support between them to basically pull into a tie with Bernie. They’ll likely get Klobuchar’s voters also. The moderate vote still adds up to more than the hard socialist vote. It’s just a question of how long that lane remains split.