All Berned Out?

by
Jessica Renae Buxbaum
After a close loss in Nevada on Saturday, the media and political pundits are declaring that Democratic socialist candidate Bernie Sanders’ campaign is dead.

Bernie Sanders pointing

The fierce criticism denotes he doesn’t have the delegates, the diverse coalition and broad enough political platform to attract voters — so his establishment rival Hillary Clinton will certainly win by default.  Conspicuous mainstream biases and an expected loss in South Carolina have sent  Berners into panic mode desperately asking, "Has Sanders’ campaign really berned out?"

Sanders acknowledged during his concession speech that his campaign still has long road ahead, but defiantly rejected assumptions that the Bern has lost its heat.

“We have come a very long way in nine months” Sanders said. “It is very clear to me and I think most observers that the wind is at our backs. We have the momentum. And I believe that when Democrats assemble in Philadelphia in July at that convention we are going to see the results of one of the great political upsets in the history of the United States.”

A pointed argument against Sanders’ campaign is his perpetual struggle with African-American voters, and the Clintons (the pro-black power couple of the 1990s) will surely sweep up those votes in the South.

Yet Nevada’s results detail an optimistic sign for Sanders with voters of color.

Despite conflicting evidence from both camps, Sanders — surprisingly — may have won the Hispanic vote. While both candidates are hotly contesting the issue surrounding unreliable polls and data, Clinton can nowhere near make the claim that she decisively won the Hispanic vote by a landslide.

“What we learned today is that Hillary Clinton’s firewall with Latino voters is a myth,” Arturo Carmona, deputy political director for the Sanders' campaign, wrote in the statement to the press shortly after the Nevada caucus closed.

Sanders is stronger with younger Latinos than older ones, and the younger group is more likely to come out and vote, according to data from the Census Bureau. With the median national age of the Latino population skewing younger at 29 years old, he certainly has a good shot of securing that minority vote in the long run.

And as CounterPunch speculates, Sanders’ brush with the Latino vote is just the beginning. Nevada was the first of 11 states with high Latino voter populations to go to the polls in the next month, so Nevada’s ambiguous results may be a strong indicator that the tides are turning in Sanders’ favor.

Yet his potential stronger hold with Hispanic voters than African-Americans does not necessarily negate Sanders doesn’t have a shot at winning the black vote. Clinton is getting votes out of pragmatics but Sanders is winning them through inspiration. If the Vermont senator does a better job at promoting his agenda to black communities, something may stick.

Bernie Sanders raising fist

Millennial voters have undeniably been enamored by Sanders’ politics, but Nevada’s demographic is not so young — the median age is 36 years old and Generation X makes up 22 percent of the state’s population. Sanders still has yet to hit the millennial-heavy areas of the country like Washington D.C. , Utah and Alaska, where he can produce shocking results with a young voter turnout. 

Yet his voting troubles and assets pale in comparison to Sanders’ widely controversial and radically progressive platform. 

“The truth is: we aren’t a single issue country. We need more than a plan for the big banks,” Clinton said in her victory speech in Nevada, making a clear jab at the crux of Sander’s agenda. 

Yet Sanders’ message of a “political revolution” has overwhelmingly stood out and resonated with voters, and clearly impacted even Clinton who has begun shifting her campaign rhetoric to sound like his.

To say his campaign is doomed after Nevada is establishment hyperbole. Sanders is still stealing voters' hearts despite his loss and subsequent criticism as was demonstrated when 5,200 supporters attended his rally in Greenville, South Carolina on Sunday — a rally bigger than almost any Clinton has ever had. 

Read more: Cornel West Reveals A Political Past Hillary Doesn’t Want You To Know

Banner image credit: Reuters

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