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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Bernie Wins Nevada

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, is well under way.

Matt Viser at WP:
Sen. Bernie Sanders won a resounding victory in the Nevada caucuses Saturday, providing another boost to an insurgent campaign that is challenging the Democratic establishment and stifling the plans of rivals who still hold out hope of stopping him.

Sanders’s advantage in Nevada was overwhelming, with substantial leads in nearly every demographic group, allowing him to set down a marker in the first state with a significant share of nonwhite voters. Sanders expanded the electorate by attracting relatively large numbers of first-time caucus-goers, providing momentum as the race shifts into a critical stretch over the next 10 days.

He prevailed among those with college degrees and those without; those living in union and nonunion households; and in every age group except those over 65. He won more than half of Hispanic caucus-goers — almost four times as much support as his nearest rival, former vice president Joe Biden — and even narrowly prevailed among those who identified as moderate or conservative. Despite attacks on his health proposal by the powerful Culinary Union, he won in caucus sites filled with union members.
Ryan Lizza at Politico:
The powerful Culinary Union, which opposes Sanders’ Medicare for All plan and spent the final weeks of the campaign in a high-profile fight with his campaign, was supposed to weaken him. And yet the Sanders’s ranks were speckled with red-shirted Culinary members. (Overall, Sanders won 34% of caucus-goers from union households, besting all of his rivals.)

Sanders wasn’t supposed to be able to break through with black and brown voters, but the group was racially and ethnically diverse. (Sanders won 27% of African Americans and 53% of Hispanics across the state.) The Sanders movement is supposed to be limited to those crazy college kids who don’t remember socialist as a slur. But there were plenty of older Sanders backers at the Bellagio chanting “Bernie” along with their 20-something comrades. (Sanders won every age category in the state except Nevadans over 65, which he ceded to Joe Biden.)
Sure, the numbers are tiny. In a state of 3 million people, turnout of over 100,000 participants is considered enormous. Candidate events here on the days leading up to the caucuses were sleepy affairs, with fewer attendees than in Iowa and New Hampshire where the big cities are a fraction of the size of Vegas.
But the Sanders victory still exploded a lot of myths. He was said to have a ceiling of 30% or so. Remarkably, against a much larger field of candidates Sanders is poised to come close to the same level of support as he did in 2016 in a one-on-one race against Hillary Clinton, to whom he lost 47%-53%. (He was at 46% with a quarter of precincts reporting as of this writing.) He was said to be unable to attract anyone outside his core base. But he held his own with moderate voters (22%) and won across every issue area except voters who cared most about foreign policy, who went with Biden.