No, Bernie Sanders Isn't Winning Latinos (Yet)

Based on Nevada caucus entrance polls, the Bernie Sanders campaign claimed it won the Latino vote, and yes, that poll gives Sanders a 53-45 lead over Hillary Clinton with this key demographic. 


Winning the non-white vote has been critical to Bernie Sanders’ chances this primary season. He could win all the white voters in the world, but he’s not winning anything without greater appeal to black and Latino voters. That was the basis of my “demographic ceiling” of around 30 percent, which he has busted through—in large part by digging into Clinton’s brown support. 

But no, Sanders didn’t win the Latino vote in Nevada. Not even close. 

The entrance poll is just that, a poll, and one with an immense margin of error. â€‹Of 1,024 respondents overall, Latinos were 19 percent, or 194-195 depending on rounding. I don’t note that to try and unskew the poll results, but to try and explain how it could’ve gone so wrong, because we don’t need polls to tell how Latinos did—we can look at actual voting results

In the 76 precincts in Clark County where we believe that a plurality of registered Democrats are Hispanic, Mrs. Clinton defeated Mr. Sanders in the delegate count by a margin of 58 percent to 42 percent. In the smaller number of majority Hispanic precincts, she seemed to win about 60 percent of the delegates, and she won perhaps 65 percent of the delegates in the precincts where Hispanics appeared to be a particularly large share of registered Democrats. 

Another analysis:

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There are two explanations for those numbers above—either Sanders won Latinos and non-Latios in those districts were HUGE Clinton fans, or Sanders continues to have problems reaching a demographic he’s never had to reach before, thus knows little about him. 

Of course, pointing this out will be seen as an attack on the Sanders campaign, but consider this—his continued viability as a candidate depends on is ability to broaden his reach. What helps his campaign out more: 1) declaring mission accomplished, pretending that he has support that he doesn’t, or 2) realizing that he has continued work to do on this front? Sticking one’s head in the sand is never a viable strategy. 

The reality is that even a 60-40 split among Latinos is a major accomplishment by someone who had half that support in polling earlier in the cycle. He’s made inroads, most probably among younger Latinos (and to be clear, when we talk about the “youth vote”, we are in large part talking about Latinos, as we are a crazy young demographic). 

So yes, Clinton’s Latino firewall is imperiled the stronger Sanders runs among youth voters, but that is a much different story than claiming that Sanders won Latios. 

Now, if the primary calendar was such that Sanders had spent a year talking to Latinos and African Americans instead of farmers in Iowa, the results would probably look different. Unfortunately, our party remains inexplicably beholden to the Iowa-New Hampshire stranglehold on our nominating process. That needs to end. 

(And fuck the caucus system, too.)

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