- Sen. Bernie Sanders decisive win in the Nevada caucus has further cemented his status as the Democratic primary frontrunner.
- The win proves the Vermont senator has built a more racially diverse coalition than many of his rivals.
- This comes after Sanders’ strong showings in Iowa and New Hampshire.
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Sen. Bernie Sanders’ decisive win in the Nevada caucus has further cemented his status as the Democratic primary frontrunner.
Entrance polls in the state showed Sanders winning among virtually all demographic groups: He won both men and women, voters over 65 years old, white, black, and Hispanic, and by a very large margin among voters under 45. Sanders also held a narrow lead among Democratic voters who identify as conservative or moderate — and a large lead among those who call themselves liberal.
Even Sanders’ biggest critics in the Democratic Party conceded that he was the candidate to beat in the primary after Saturday.
“There’s one big, huge, screaming story here tonight and that is: There is a frontrunner in the 2020 Democratic presidential race,” James Carville said on MSNBC Saturday afternoon.
The victory comes after Sanders’ strong showing in Iowa, where he won the popular vote and came in second to former Mayor Pete Buttigieg in delegates, and New Hampshire, where he won narrowly.
FULL RESULTS: Bernie Sanders won the Nevada caucus, and the early results show he may have demolished his rivals
The Nevada contest was a key test of Sanders’ strength following a turbulent few weeks for the campaign.
The Vermont lawmaker faced pushback from Nevada’s large and powerful Culinary Union, which opposes single-payer healthcare and Sanders’ Medicare for All plan.
The union caused a stir when it released a leaflet earlier this month about the Democratic candidates’ healthcare plans and wrote that Sanders would “end Culinary healthcare,” the union’s popular medical insurance coverage. Aggressive attacks on the union’s female leadership from online accounts purporting to be Sanders supporters escalated the tension between the Sanders campaign and the union.
And on Friday, news broke that US officials told Sanders that the Russian government is working to help him win the Democratic nomination.
“I don’t care, frankly, who Putin wants to be president,” Sanders said in a Friday statement. “My message to Putin is clear: Stay out of American elections, and as president I will make sure that you do.”
Sanders also suggested that the Russians may be behind some of the “ugly stuff on the internet” perpetrated by purported Sanders supporters.
Sanders was aided by former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s addition to the debate stage in Nevada last week. Bloomberg was pummeled by his competitors over his record on criminal justice, his treatment of women and female employees, and his status as a self-funding billionaire. Sanders, meanwhile, was able to escape the heightened scrutiny frontrunners generally face.
A diverse coalition
Sanders lost the Nevada caucus to Hillary Clinton by five points in 2016, and his victory this cycle is an indication of the crowded field as voters were split between Buttigieg, Biden and Warren.
Sanders’ Nevada win also proves he has built a significantly more racially diverse coalition than many of his rivals. For the past several months, Insider has been conducting a recurring SurveyMonkey Audience poll to track the state of the 2020 Democratic primary field.
Sanders is the only major candidate in the race who overperforms among Latinos, a critical constituency in not only Nevada but also the country as a whole.
Nevada only accounts for 36, or 0.9% of the delegates allocated throughout the nomination process, but holds disproportionate importance by virtue of being the first state with a significant non-white population to express its voting preferences.
The first two states in the process, Iowa and New Hampshire, are both over 93% white. In Nevada, however, just 49% of the population is white, compared to 29% that is Hispanic or Latino, 10% that is African-American, and 9% that is Asian.
Sanders’ strong performance with Hispanic voters in Nevada reflects national polling, which show him leading among Hispanic voters, who make up about 20% of the Democratic electorate.
He also benefited from splitting the vote with a crowded field of other Democrats, including candidates like Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who’ve consistently polled poorly among communities of color.
Grace Panetta and Walt Hickey contributed to this report.
SurveyMonkey Audience polls from a national sample balanced by census data of age and gender. Respondents are incentivized to complete surveys through charitable contributions. Generally speaking, digital polling tends to skew toward people with access to the internet.