The next test for Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders are the Nevada Caucuses. Nevada is the first state in the West to vote, with a sizable minority population and strong labor unions, it provides a useful microcosm of the candidate’s support in a stronger cross-section of America at-large than either Iowa or New Hampshire provides. Clinton had a close victory in the state in 2008 and will be looking for a repeat, albeit with a larger margin of victory. To that end, here are three things to watch in Nevada:
1: Sanders’ record on immigration.
Clinton allies are publically hammering Senator Sanders for voting against immigration reform in 2007 and his support for a 2006 law that would have allowed for the indefinite detention (pending deportation) of undocumented immigrants. The 2007 immigration reform law is important, as many activists believe that it was the best chance to pass comprehensive reform. Latino votes comprise over a quarter of Nevada’s total population, and almost 20 percent of the eligible voting population. If these attacks are successful, expect to see Sanders’ support among minority groups decline.
2: Sanders’ message on race relations.
Sanders is yet to prove that he can connect with minority voters. His struggles to win over the African American community are also duplicated in his attempted outreach to the Latino community. Despite his unswerving message about economic inequality, he has a thin record on issues specifically affecting minority communities. As the Washington Post notes,
[H]e’s also a man from one of the whitest states in one of the whitest three-state regions of the United States. In Vermont, blacks, Asians, Native Americans, Latinos and those who identify as two races or more together make up just 6.8 percent of the state’s population.
3: Clinton’s support from Latino millennials.
Hillary Clinton retains huge support among the Latino population and national Latino leaders. Her key challenge, and a strong indicator of her continued viability as a candidate, will be whether her support among Latinos includes the Latino youth who have been courted by Sanders. If Clinton can win the minority millennial groups, then she has the ability to halt Sanders’ momentum heading into Super Tuesday. Of course, to maintain her own momentum she will need a convincing victory in South Carolina on February 27.
Clinton is on track for a victory in Nevada. Polls indicate that Sanders has significantly closed the gap, but his is a late arrival in the state that Clinton has put serious time and money into. Sanders cannot continue to rely on a majority white vote to keep up his campaign’s momentum. New Hampshire may very well turn out to be the defeat that Clinton had to have, so long as she is redeemed in Nevada.
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