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In what has been the strongest showing for Hillary Clinton in 2016, she confidently won the Nevada caucus, with 52.6 percent to Bernie Sanders’ 47.3 and with 19 delegates to Sanders’ 15. It was as clear a victory as Clinton has had in this campaign and it taught us a few important lessons that may prove to be absolutely crucial for the rest of the Democratic Party candidate race.
After a devastating loss in New Hampshire, the Clinton camp was nervously heading into the caucus, with Brian Fallon, the press secretary for Clinton, saying that there are many reasons why Bernie might actually do well in Nevada prior to the voting. One of the reasons he mentioned is that Nevada still has 80 percent white voters, which is something that does not suit the former Secretary of State. Well, it turned out not to be a problem this weekend. Camp Clinton let out a collective sigh of relief after the results were announced, knowing that their long-standing campaign paid off.
Namely, Clinton’s campaign was the first among the Democrats to open offices in Nevada, way back last spring. In fact, from the earliest days of her campaign, Nevada was envisioned as a state where Clinton’s plan for immigration system reform would be unveiled. This system includes speeding up the citizenship process for undocumented immigrants and ensuring they do not get deported.
While her campaign in Nevada was much more diverse than before, she still did play the immigration card heavier than others, with her main TV spot featuring her consoling a young Latino girl who is crying about her parents getting deported. Judging by the results, this was the right path to take and Clinton took it without faltering for a single moment.
This was probably the main reason why Clinton won so easily in Nevada, the fact that she addressed a number of issues and not just a single one. For example, before the vote, she pointed out that she agrees (with Sanders) that Americans should be angry about Big Money and Wall Street, but that they also hunger for real solutions (indicating that Sanders does not offer them).
She also commented on the Supreme Court controversy that has been going on since Associate Justice Antonin Scalia died and whose replacement naming might actually turn out to be more impactful than who wins the Democratic nomination. She summed it all up, saying that, “the middle class needs a raise and we need more jobs.”
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Unlike in 2008 when she won the popular vote over now-President Obama but lost in delegates because of their distribution throughout Nevada, she made sure that rural areas are just as “taken care of” as Las Vegas and other urban centers. All that being said, Clinton won mostly because of minority voters who mostly went with her. Something that definitely did not help Sanders was the criticisms he received from certain Latino leaders who reminded that Sanders voted against a bipartisan immigration reform bill back in 2007.
One thing that Sanders can take from the Nevada caucus is that he did much better than was previously expected. He did lose, but just a few months ago, he was projected to fare much worse in the Silver State. His supporters are now saying that he might even stand a chance in South Carolina, a state that was all but clinched for Clinton due to the large percentage of the black vote.
In essence, Clinton showed in Nevada that the Democratic voters are worrying about more things than just the connection between Big Money and politics, which is the story that Sanders has been almost single-mindedly concentrating on. It is definitely a huge issue, but there are states where people worry more about some other issues and where people are more concerned with solutions than with issues. For some reason, most Democratic voters see Clinton as the one with solutions.
Heading into Super Tuesday on March 1st (when a number of Democratic caucuses and primaries are going to be held), we are probably going to see Sanders win in Minnesota, Colorado, Massachusetts and Vermont while Clinton is expected to win in the Southern states, as well as in Texas and Oklahoma.