After the traditional primary openers and majority-white campaigns in Iowa and New Hampshire over and done with. The race moved, over the past two weekends, to Nevada and South Carolina, two states that have significant Latino and African American populations respectively.
Whatever Democrat wins the nomination will be reliant on ethnic minority voters to form a crucial part of their coalition to put them in the White House and states like Nevada and North Carolina act as a crucial barometer to see which candidate will invigorate the most voters.
In Nevada, there was little surprise as Bernie Sanders won the caucus with a large share of the vote. He took a firm grip on the role of frontrunner and put significant fear into the moderate democratic establishment. The self-proclaimed democratic socialist from Vermont ruffled feathers last time around with his rather distant second place; so, after Nevada confirmed his position in the driving seat, the Independent is a major worry for those in the still fairly busy moderate lane of the race.
For those in the moderate wing of the party, the race acted as a return to the predicted, with Joe Biden beating out Pete Buttigieg for second place, narrowing the former Mayor’s lead in the delegate count.
At the fourth state in his third Presidential run, Joe Biden finally won a state primary, and he won big. Among Democratic primary voters, white voters tend to be more likely to identify as liberal, while black voters tend to look more for evolution rather than radical revolution. This tends to draw them to the more moderate candidates. This year Buttigieg and Biden were cast into this role. However, the split of their vote from black, southern voters has been far from competitive, with Buttigieg’s record on racial issues as Mayor of South Bend and Biden’s connection to his “best friend Barack” allowing the former VP to take the lion’s share of the vote, as seen in the South Carolina results.
Biden’s struggles in earlier races seems to have had little impact in last night’s results as he puts himself back in position in a fairly close second place as he swept to 72% of South Carolina’s delegates, the largest single-state delegate haul to date.
Tom Steyer’s self-funded campaign had its largest vote share in South Carolina but after spending tens of millions nationally and receiving no delegates, he decided to throw in the towel
The most important day of the primary so far approaches this week: Super Tuesday where the results from the 14 races that day could be make or break for many campaigns. Bernie Sanders looks to be doing very well in many states including both California and Texas who offer the first and third most delegates of any state respectively. A result like or beyond what analysts are predicting could see him all but crowned the nominee this week.
Also of interest in Tuesday’s results is the performance of Michael Bloomberg, for whom these will be the first races he has taken any serious part in. His polling is surging but the party flip-flopper will be able to see if the huge spending of his own wealth has paid off.
For many mid-major candidates as well as the minor candidates yet to drop out, if they don’t see a serious boost in results here it will likely be the end of the road for their campaigns.