I think that I speak for all Bernie supporters when I say that the last few days have been tough. Polling data out of Nevada was almost nonexistent but what polling there was showed a close race between Hillary and Bernie. Iowa polling was leaning in Hillary’s favor by several points, yet Bernie was able to pull out a tie with her there, so it was possible that he could do it again. When Nevada results were final, Clinton had a 5 point lead- a solid win.
Let’s take a moment to look at where the Vermont Senator has come from, though. Polling from the Silver State just before he announced his bid for the presidency shows him polling 7% there with Clinton at 58%. In less than a year, he closed that 51% gap to a razor thin one. The biggest blow is that he was so close. Another few weeks, the end result may well have been different. No point in dwelling on the theoretical, however. The fact of the matter is that Hillary won there, and now the ball is on her side of the court as we move to South Carolina on Feb 27. She holds a 20+ point lead in the state, and that is not something that will dissipate in half of a week.
Sanders had a strong showing in both Iowa and New Hampshire, knocking the ‘inevitable candidate’ off balance, and that meant all of a sudden that Nevada became a key state for both of them to prove their mettle. A Sanders win in Nevada would have been a cushion for the campaign’s longshot race in South Carolina, and Hillary’s victory is reassurance that she’s still on top and not going down without a fight.
These next few days will continue to be tough for the Sanders campaign, but the situation for him is not and will not be as dire as many try to paint it. CNN described Clinton’s victory a “decisive win”. Democratic voter turnout in the state has been significantly lower this year, with only 80,000 casting their vote, compared to the 120,000 person turnout in 2008. With this in mind, a 5% margin of victory is tiny, only a few thousand votes. Time Warner’s CNN also claimed that she “relied on a strong turnout from Latino voters to hold Sanders at bay”. Exit polling shows the Senator winning over half of the Hispanic vote. That’s not how it was supposed to go down for Hillary. He is encroaching on her support base whether she likes it or not.
Going into and coming out of South Carolina, take any attacks on Mr. Sanders’s viability with a grain of salt. If he is not a viable candidate, then his campaign should not be dwarfing the number of individual contributions made to Clinton’s–if he is not a viable candidate, then he should not have tied with the ‘inevitable candidate’ in Iowa and beat her in New Hampshire–if he is not a viable candidate, then hundreds of thousands should not have shown up to his campaign rallies.
But he’s doing these things.
If one needs a super PAC backing them, then yes, he is not a viable candidate–if one needs wardrobe staff, then yes, he is not a viable candidate–if one needs the approval of corporate media, then yes, he is not a viable candidate–if one needs any more reason to run than to best address the needs of Americans, then yes, Bernie Sanders is not a viable candidate.
He needs none of these things.
The question in all races has been how much of her lead Mrs. Clinton can maintain. Will she be able to hold out for another week? Two weeks? The Sanders team must push on past South Carolina and look to Super Tuesday, March 1, when 12 Democratic elections will happen. Polling in those states is pitiful if they exist at all, so we must go with what we have, which is a proven track of growth for Bernie and decline for Clinton. If Sanders can hold his own for now, this upward trend may deliver him more success in later primaries where time is in his favor. Stay strong. He doesn’t need to win every battle, he needs to win the war.