As I said a couple of weeks ago, Bernie Sanders is the clear frontrunner for the nomination and all the people who claim to be good Democrats but are really upset with this need to get over it. Certainly nothing has happened since to make me question this and last night’s overwhelming win in Nevada, combined with the fact that no other candidate is seemingly even close to having it together enough to win this, makes this even more likely. So how is Bernie growing his voting base?
“They think they are going to win this election by dividing our people up based on the color of their skin or where they were born or their religion or their sexual orientation,” he said in San Antonio, speaking of President Trump and his allies. “We are going to win because we are doing exactly the opposite, we’re bringing our people together.”
In the entrance polls on Saturday, Mr. Sanders led the field across many demographic groups: men and women, whites and Latinos, union and nonunion households, and across education levels.
The breadth of his appeal amounts to a warning shot at those in the moderate Democratic establishment he often rails against, many of whom have staked their hopes for a “Stop Sanders” effort on the idea that he has a political ceiling within the party and could not grow his base of supporters.
Instead, as the primary shifted to Nevada from the racially homogeneous electorates of Iowa and New Hampshire, it was Mr. Sanders who grew more formidable, while other candidates have struggled.
Strong showings in the first two states have not significantly helped former Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Amy Klobuchar break through with nonwhite voters. Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has called himself the one candidate who can build a diverse coalition, but he finished in second place in Nevada, the most diverse nominating contest so far.
Only Mr. Sanders, with his uncompromising message that working-class Americans affected by injustice can unite across ethnic identity, has shown traction in both predominantly white Iowa and New Hampshire and the more black and brown Nevada.
“He’s been saying the same thing for 40 years — I trust him,” said Cristhian Ramirez, a 31-year-old technology support specialist who began volunteering for the Sanders campaign in November. Mr. Ramirez brought several friends with him Saturday and scoffed at the idea that Mr. Sanders would face challenges in the general election. Like many supporters, Mr. Ramirez was first drawn to Mr. Sanders during the senator’s 2016 presidential bid. “Why should we vote for a moderate? We already tried that last time and we lost.”
The strong showing in the first-in-the-West caucus state seemed to be a payoff for Mr. Sanders’s unique political philosophy and his campaign team’s electoral strategy, which bet big on grass-roots outreach to Latinos and immigrant populations. It’s a model the campaign is looking to take across the country, working to reach people across racial and ethnic groups who have traditionally been less likely to vote.
People can say all the scurrilous things about Sanders they want, and I am sure they will in comments. But he is the one putting together a coalition of Democratic voters that can win. Between his uncompromising positions and his call for economic justice, this is a platform that can win. Anyone who talks about electability in the general election has no idea what they are talking about, from MSNBC pundits to blog comment sections. So who knows what will happen in November. But to get there, you have to win the votes of actual Democrats and so far, only one candidate has shown the ability to do this.