Nevada Gives Sanders The Big M.O. (Momentum)

Article by Eric McGee
Nevada Caucus results as of 7 p.m. Central Standard Time on February 23. Screenshot taken from Google, data courtesy of The Associated Press.

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont handily won the Nevada caucus on Saturday. The win makes him the clear frontrunner in the race to be the Democratic Party nominee for president.  Most significantly, for the first time in American history, a self-avowed socialist is a serious candidate for president of the United States.

With the first three  primaries in the bag, Sanders leads the delegate count with 45 pledged delegates. Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is in second with 25 pledged delegates followed by former vice president, Joe Biden, who has 15 delegates.  A candidate needs 1,991 delegates to win the nomination on the first ballot.

Obviously it is early in the primary process with 47 state primaries to be determined. However, momentum is essential in the primaries.  In Iowa and New Hampshire, Sanders and Buttigieg practically tied in the delegate counts. 

Nevada was the first state where there was a clear winner. Sanders took 24 of the 36 delegates up for grabs in Nevada. Most argue, this gives him a great deal of momentum going into the South Carolina primary being held Saturday.

South Carolina has 54 delegates up for grabs on Saturday. At presstime, the Real Clear Politics poll has Biden, leading Sanders by 5 percentage points. The Real Clear Politics poll is an average of all the top polls in the country. 

Meanwhile, the African American vote is very significant in the South Carolina Democratic Primary. It is common knowledge that Biden is popular with African American voters. However, in Nevada there was clear evidence that Sanders has been closing the gap with Biden with African American voters.

In 2016 Hillary Clinton clobbered Bernie Sanders in the South Carolina primary. She took over 73% of the vote to his 26%. In 2020, the dynamic is completely different. At present, the RCP poll has Biden with 26.8%, Sanders with 21.7%, Steyer with 14.7 followed by Buttigieg and Warren with just under 10%. It is essential for most of the candidates to do well in Tuesday night’s debate prior to South Carolina.  I am sure all the candidates will be gunning for Bernie in the debate.

Nevertheless, Sanders’ success so far can be attributed to two factors. Like Donald Trump in 2016, Sanders has chosen two or three issues in which he is rock solid on and will not compromise. In 2016, Donald Trump’s issues were immigration, trade and cutting corporate taxes. 

In 2020, Bernie Sanders’ issues are Medicare for all, the Green New Deal and a free college education. As a result, like Trump in 2016 with Republicans, Sanders has locked up at least 20 to 25 percent of the Democratic electorate. In a crowded field of candidates, that wins primaries. None of the other candidates have this base. The nomination is Bernie’s to lose.

Categories: Opinion

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