Bernie Sanders has won the Nevada Caucus by a comfortable margin. With 60 percent of the voting precincts reporting their results, Sanders has now obtained a whopping 46 percent. Joe Biden, who has been losing considerable approval in the polls across most states, including Nevada, managed to exceed the latest grim expectations and received 19.2 percent and second place. Pete Buttigieg comes in at third place with 15.4 percent ahead of Elizabeth Warren at 10.3 percent and Amy Klobuchar at 4.5 percent. The number two in the national polls, Mayor Mike Bloomberg, did not participate in the Nevada caucus.
‘Beat Trump and Transform the Country’
Sander’s election victory in Nevada did not come as a surprise. Already four hours after the start of the caucuses, the major networks were able to announce Sanders’ victory based on indicative forecasts. In his victory speech afterwards Sanders proclaimed the expected: “let us win the Democratic nomination together, beat Trump and transform the country.”
After Sanders was defeated in the Iowa Caucus, he has now won two consecutive states with New Hampshire and Nevada and thus will take over the lead as the clear Democratic front-runner. What was a resounding victory for Sanders was yet another blow to all moderate forces within the party. Klobuchar was a complete non-factor and was unable to utilize her recent momentum. A solid performance in Nevada was urgently needed, however, to keep her donors motivated.
The Democratic Moderate Wing is Collapsing — Time for Biden to Step Aside?
Meanwhile, Joe Biden’s second place was a significant improvement compared to his previous two showings. However, it cannot be emphasized enough that he had held the lead in Nevada ahead of Sanders in January — and comfortably with 28 to 21 percent, respectively. Since then, both campaigns have run in diametrically opposite directions: downhill for Biden and high up in the sky for Sanders. In essence, Biden now has to win the South Carolina primary in which he currently leads on Saturday to even realistically remain a contender in this nomination race. If he cannot prevail against Sanders there, Biden needs to do the moderate forces a favor by conceding and thus open up the moderate lane for the sake of the party and, indeed, the country.
Warren Has Apparently Become Sanders’ Lackey
Similar observations apply to Elizabeth Warren, who suffered another major defeat and, according to the polls, will not stand a chance in South Carolina, either. After Iowa’s projections had been made public, Warren did not even concern herself with addressing the subpar performance. Instead, she was eager to digress from it and shift focus towards her debate performance as well as onto Bloomberg, whom Warren did not only attack regarding his character but — in line with the crude Trumpian way and far from her sanctimonious pledge of uniting the party — for his height.
What is even more telling was that Warren once again did not attack Sanders, although he de facto occupies her lane. Instead, she continued to attack Bloomberg, by now Sanders’ main rival. While this cannot be a winning strategy for Warren, it may indicate a post general election agreement between Sanders and Warren. Warren’s speech was indeed a testimony of it, as it was not one of a campaign fighter who is here to stay, but of one who has now become the front-runner’s personal Doberman.
Buttigieg Seems to be the Only One Left Truly Challenging Sanders
Meanwhile, Pete Buttigieg continued his quest for establishing himself as the only valid alternative to Sanders. Buttigieg criticized him and his vision for America harshly and did not get tired of emphasizing that his campaign has been the only one able to beat Sanders yet. However, Buttigieg has still not proven whether he can obtain the necessary amount of Latino and Black voters, and South Carolina will mark his first real test in this regard.
Although it appears Sanders is currently cementing the Democratic nomination, the next ten days will indicate where the candidates ultimately stand. The South Carolina primary on Saturday is followed by the most momentous day so far on March 3, Super Tuesday. Fourteen states will cast their vote on this day, and 33 percent of all delegates from the entire race will be allocated. Most importantly, Bloomberg will be on the ballot and demonstrate whether his recent surge has any staying power.
And while the moderate lane of Biden, Buttigieg, and Bloomberg continues to consist of two too many, the next ten days and Bloomberg’s results are going to reshuffle the cards — and indeed the field — tremendously.