Sanders stands strong chance in primaries
The presidential hopeful actually has a shot at stealing the Democratic primaries from Hillary Clinton When Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders threw his hat into the presidential race, most people did not believe he could possibly win. He has defied early predictions of merely being a protest candidate. His rallies have attracted thousands of supporters and his polls numbers have surged all throughout the summer.
But could he achieve the seemingly impossible? Could Bernie Sanders stop the Clinton coronation? According to Harry Enten, senior political writer at FiveThirtyEight, “Presidential primaries can be about momentum. You win Iowa, you win New Hampshire, and the sky’s the limit. You saw that with John Kerry in 2004 on the Democratic side. You saw that with Jimmy Carter in 1976.” This is completely conceivable for Sanders.
It all began on Feb. 1 at the Iowa Caucus. Sanders lost to Clinton by a mere 0.3 percent. Just three months ago Clinton’s lead was in the double digits. Clinton has struggled all summer to quell the criticisms of her use of a private e-mail server during her time as head of the State Department. Sanders has been able to capitalize immensely on this. Despite the close loss, Sanders has gained a large amount of momentum to take New Hampshire.
The Granite State should be an easy win for Sanders. The latest poll shows Sanders with a commanding lead. It should not be surprising that Sanders has been highly competitive in these two states. Iowa and New Hampshire favor the Vermont Senator demographically. Both states have plenty of the white liberals that form the base of Sanders’ support.
If Sanders could pull off back-to-back caucus wins, it would be important for two reasons. Beating her twice will most likely remove doubts from voters who are attracted to his message but did not believe he could win.
The second, as Nate Silver also of FiveThirtyEight points out, “The national press corps, which spins even minor stories into crises for Clinton, would portray Clinton’s campaign as being in a meltdown. Momentum usually matters in the primaries—and sometimes it matters a lot.” Sanders is going to need that momentum going into the following two states.
The next two caucuses are in Nevada and South Carolina. This will be a good test for Sanders and his message. As stated above, the main reason Sanders is competitive in both Iowa and New Hampshire is white liberals. Nevada and South Carolina demographically do not favor Sanders as much as Iowa and New Hampshire do. The polling data in Nevada is limited but gives the edge to the former Secretary of State.
But Sanders has been advertising heavily there and could steal a win if he gets the support from Nevada’s unionized workforce. South Carolina is where Sanders hits a roadblock. Actually it is more like a brick wall. South Carolina is the biggest barrier between Sanders and the nomination. Clinton is up 31 points in South Carolina.
This is due to her astronomical lead among African-American voters. A poll from October shows Sanders claiming only 3 percent of the African-American vote. As reported in The Washington Post, “Sanders has a strong voting record on issues that poll well with African-Americans. But, he isn’t someone many black people know, have been exposed to.”
A Gallup poll showed two-thirds of African-American voters were unfamiliar with Sanders, which is pretty common for most candidates at this point. But the biggest problem Sanders faces is running against Clinton. The Washington Post reporter Janell Ross says it best: “A woman who is not just a known commodity to most voters—whether they love her or loathe her—but a woman married to a widely beloved former president, held in high esteem by many black voters and the first woman with a serious shot at the White House.”
While his message on economic inequality by every measure affects African-Americans the most, it is not resonating well with them. In the wake of many high-profile deaths of unarmed black teens, Sanders has not shifted his message.
In the eyes of many black voters, racial inequality is a more pressing matter than economic inequality. Sanders needs to find a way to cut into Clinton’s lead among African-American, Latino and Asian-American voters.
If Sanders can do that, he can keep building on the momentum he already has. If Sanders cannot do that, his campaign is going to burn out.