[Marxism] How Bernie Sanders Dominated in Nevada
lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Feb 23 09:30:31 MST 2020
(A remarkably fair report.)
NY Times, Feb. 23, 2020
How Bernie Sanders Dominated in Nevada
By Jennifer Medina and Astead W. Herndon
LAS VEGAS — They showed up to Desert Pines High School in Tío Bernie
T-shirts to caucus on Saturday morning, motivated by the idea of free
college tuition, “Medicare for all” and the man making those promises: a
78-year-old white senator from Vermont. To dozens of mostly
working-class Latinos, Bernie Sanders seemed like one of their own, a
child of immigrants who understands what it means to be seen as a
For at least one day, in one state, the long-promised political
revolution of Mr. Sanders came to vivid life, a multiracial coalition of
immigrants, college students, Latina mothers, younger black voters,
white liberals and even some moderates who embraced his idea of radical
change and lifted him to victory in the Nevada caucuses on Saturday.
By harnessing such a broad cross-section of voters, Mr. Sanders offered
a preview of the path that he hopes to take to the Democratic
presidential nomination: uniting an array of voting blocs in racially
diverse states in the West and the South and in economically strapped
parts of the Midwest and the Southwest, all behind the message of social
and economic justice that he has preached for years.
His advisers argue that he has a singular ability to energize voters who
have felt secondary in the Democratic Party, like Latinos and younger
people, and that Nevada proved as much — and could set the stage for
strong performances in the Super Tuesday contests on March 3. The
Sanders campaign is looking in particular to the delegate-rich states of
California and Texas, whose diverse Democratic electorates include a
high percentage of voters from immigrant backgrounds.
Mr. Sanders’s chances also depend in part on the field of moderate
candidates remaining crowded and divided, which is not a guarantee,
especially if voters seeking an alternative to the right of Mr. Sanders
align behind one candidate. To earn enough delegates to be the
Democratic nominee, Mr. Sanders will also have to win big in other large
states, including California and Texas, where his coalition remains
untested. And his brand of democratic socialism could prove to be a hard
sell, including among Latinos elsewhere in the country.
Mr. Sanders delivered his victory speech Saturday evening not in Nevada,
but in Texas, one of the diverse powerhouses on the Super Tuesday calendar.
“They think they are going to win this election by dividing our people
up based on the color of their skin or where they were born or their
religion or their sexual orientation,” he said in San Antonio, speaking
of President Trump and his allies. “We are going to win because we are
doing exactly the opposite, we’re bringing our people together.”
In the entrance polls on Saturday, Mr. Sanders led the field across many
demographic groups: men and women, whites and Latinos, union and
nonunion households, and across education levels.
The breadth of his appeal amounts to a warning shot at those in the
moderate Democratic establishment he often rails against, many of whom
have staked their hopes for a “Stop Sanders” effort on the idea that he
has a political ceiling within the party and could not grow his base of
Instead, as the primary shifted to Nevada from the racially homogeneous
electorates of Iowa and New Hampshire, it was Mr. Sanders who grew more
formidable, while other candidates have struggled.
Strong showings in the first two states have not significantly helped
former Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Amy Klobuchar break through with
nonwhite voters. Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has called
himself the one candidate who can build a diverse coalition, but he
finished in second place in Nevada, the most diverse nominating contest
Only Mr. Sanders, with his uncompromising message that working-class
Americans affected by injustice can unite across ethnic identity, has
shown traction in both predominantly white Iowa and New Hampshire and
the more black and brown Nevada.
“He’s been saying the same thing for 40 years — I trust him,” said
Cristhian Ramirez, a 31-year-old technology support specialist who began
volunteering for the Sanders campaign in November. Mr. Ramirez brought
several friends with him Saturday and scoffed at the idea that Mr.
Sanders would face challenges in the general election. Like many
supporters, Mr. Ramirez was first drawn to Mr. Sanders during the
senator’s 2016 presidential bid. “Why should we vote for a moderate? We
already tried that last time and we lost.”
The strong showing in the first-in-the-West caucus state seemed to be a
payoff for Mr. Sanders’s unique political philosophy and his campaign
team’s electoral strategy, which bet big on grass-roots outreach to
Latinos and immigrant populations. It’s a model the campaign is looking
to take across the country, working to reach people across racial and
ethnic groups who have traditionally been less likely to vote.
While ideologically liberal voters and young people powered Mr. Sanders
toward popular vote victories in Iowa and New Hampshire, Nevada showed
the candidate’s brand of authenticity could have cross-cultural appeal,
even as the campaign sparred over “Medicare for all” with the culinary
workers’ union, the state’s largest union and one of the most powerful
organizations in Nevada Democratic politics.
Activists and leaders who have endorsed Mr. Sanders, particularly people
who work with immigrant populations, argue that a focus on “Bernie Bros”
— a caricature of his supporters as predominantly white and male —
misses the scope of the campaign’s outreach to historically marginalized
They praised Mr. Sanders for articulating a global frame of injustice
that has led him to uncharted places among the Democratic field: He was
the first to support a moratorium on deportations, has consistently
spoken of the plight of the Palestinian people during debates, and has
talked about his own family’s immigrant experience as a way to connect
with voters, something he rarely did during his 2016 run.
No demographic is a monolith, of course, and Mr. Sanders’s support comes
with fissures along fault lines of age and educational attainment. But,
if Nevada is any measure, he is well positioned to galvanize a
cross-section of Latino voters in a way that earlier candidates have
done with black voters in the Democratic Party, amassing an advantage
that could help create a path to the nomination.
“If you have focused intention and ongoing support for Latinos and other
voters of color you can win,” said Sonja Diaz, the executive director of
the Latino Policy & Politics Initiative at the University of California,
Los Angeles. “They did not take the Latino vote for granted.”
When early voting began last week, the Sanders campaign sent a neon
truck blasting local Spanish radio out onto the Las Vegas streets,
urging people to show up at dozens of early caucus sites. They attracted
hundreds of people to a soccer tournament, then offered rides to caucus
sites to anyone who showed up.
After months of knocking on doors in largely Latino neighborhoods in Las
Vegas, on Saturday morning, the Sanders campaign said it sent text
messages and phone calls to every Latino registered as a Democrat or
independent in the state.
For months, the Sanders campaign has boasted that it was the first to
organize and advertise in largely Latino neighborhoods, not just in Las
Vegas, but in Des Moines and east Los Angeles. Many people who showed up
at the caucuses wearing Sanders buttons and stickers said his campaign
was the only one they ever heard from. Latino political activists —
including those backing other candidates — routinely applaud the Sanders
campaign for doing the kind of expensive, labor intensive outreach they
have been trying to convince other candidates to do for years.
Former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who has virtually unlimited
resources, is also investing in Latino outreach and competing
aggressively in Super Tuesday states, which could cut into support for
Mr. Sanders. He has already spent more than $10 million on
Mr. Sanders’s appeal seems particularly strong in the West, where his
ability to harness not just Latinos, but also liberal black and
Asian-American voters could portend a strong showing in California,
which will award more delegates than the four early voting states combined.
The Sanders team has long said that California, where early voting is
already underway, is a cornerstone of its campaign. It has invested
roughly $6.5 million in advertising there so far, including more than $1
million for Spanish language advertising. A poll from the Public Policy
Institute of California released last week showed Mr. Sanders with 30
percent of the vote, and Mr. Biden in second, trailing by nearly 20
The support for Mr. Sanders in Nevada was particularly notable given the
intense fight with the Culinary Union, which represents 60,000
housekeepers, bartenders, cooks and others who work in casinos here.
Leadership for the union, whose membership is more than 50 percent
Latino, declined to back any one candidate, but spent the weeks leading
up to the caucus criticizing Mr. Sanders’s “Medicare for all” plan,
because it would effectively eliminate the union’s prized private health
But in interviews in recent days, many rank-and-file union members said
they supported Mr. Sanders precisely because of his health care
proposal, explaining that they wanted their friends and relatives to
have the same kind of access to care that they have.
On Saturday, Mr. Sanders won at five of the seven caucus sites on the
Strip, losing one to Mr. Biden and tying with him at another — a clear
sign that the messages from union leadership had largely been ignored.
Ana Maria Archila, co-executive director of Center for Popular
Democracy, a national collective of progressive groups, said she heard
all day about people voting for the first time. She also said that she
expected states like California and Texas could turn out even better.
At a recent event in Las Vegas geared toward Latino voters, Ms. Archila
said she asked the audience to “close your eyes and imagine a country
where we are not a target,” citing Mr. Sanders’s support for a
moratorium on deportations.
“People started to cry,” she said. “We have never known what it feels
like to be in this country and not be under threat.”
Jennifer Medina reported from Las Vegas and Astead W. Herndon from
Charleston, S.C. Nick Corasaniti contributed reporting from Minneapolis.
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