In this post, I noted that the Culinary Workers Union, a big player in Nevada Democratic politics, is attacking Bernie Sanders over his “Medicare for All” proposal. I figured that these attacks would harm Sanders’s Nevada caucuses campaign.
However, the Union hasn’t endorsed another candidate. Thus, to the extent that its attacks on Sanders dissuade members from supporting the Vermont socialist, these members are likely to split their vote among other candidates, thereby decreasing the harm to Sanders.
Polling in Nevada seems to confirm this analysis. Sanders leads, but his lead isn’t as large as it likely would have been had the Culinary Workers Union not blasted him on health insurance.
The latest poll from the Las Vegas Review-Journal has Sanders ahead with 25 percent support. Joe Biden is second at 18 percent. Elizabeth Warren is next at 13 percent. Just behind Warren come Tom Steyer, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar at around 10 percent.
(A survey released today by Point Blank Political has Steyer in the lead. Reportedly, however, more than three-quarters of those surveyed are age 50 or older. Considering Sanders’s enthusiastic support among young voters, it seems reasonable to discount this poll, except for purposes of thinking that Steyer may run better than previously expected.)
Dave Weigel filed this report from Nevada for the Washington Post. He says that Biden’s message is being well received by audiences there. Inasmuch as pandering to Latinos seems to comprise a goodly portion of Biden’s message, we probably shouldn’t be surprised.
Biden doesn’t need to win Nevada to keep his presidential hopes alive. However, he may need to finish second, ahead of everyone but Sanders.
Biden probably doesn’t need to worry that he might finish behind Buttigieg (as he did in Iowa and New Hampshire) and Klobuchar (as he did in New Hampshire). These two aren’t nearly as well known to Nevada Dems as Sanders and Biden are. Moreover, according to Weigel, nonwhite voters have been “hearing the worst” about the two upstart candidates.
Klobuchar, in particular, has had a rocky time. In a widely watched interview with Telemundo, she couldn’t name the current president of Mexico. (I can’t either, but I’m not seeking Latino support for a presidential bid.) Klobuchar also faltered trying to explain her vote for an amendment to the 2007 immigration bill that would have made English the official national language.
The threat to a second place finish by Biden probably comes mainly from Warren and maybe Steyer. Warren may need second place as badly as Biden does. Steyer doesn’t need it. His focus is on South Carolina. However, he’d love to enter that contest with a stronger than expected showing in Nevada.
Another question looms over the Nevada caucuses: Will the technology used to determine the outcome hold up? It’s hard for me to believe that after the embarrassment of Iowa, the Democrats will botch the Nevada caucuses too. However, these reports from Politico and the Washington Post suggest that the possibility of serious malfunction is real.
Concern centers around whether Democrats have provided sufficient training to volunteers at precinct locations. In addition, according to the Post:
Campaigns said they still have not gotten the party to offer even a basic explanation of how key parts of the process will work. Volunteers are reporting problems with the technology that’s been deployed at the last minute to make the vote count smoother. And experts are raising serious questions about a tool the party has been feverishly assembling to replace the one scrapped after the meltdown in Iowa.
So maybe the real suspense when the caucuses take place won’t be over who wins them, but rather over whether the Dems can figure out who won them without taking days to do so.