It looks like Hillary is losing her Nevada bet
Nevada’s Democrat caucus is scheduled for this coming Saturday, ahead of the South Carolina primary. Because of the state’s diversity – 15 percent black and more than 25 percent Hispanic – Nevada was, as Team Clinton told Buzzfeed.com, supposed to be a firewall, one that would put Hillary Clinton back on the road to the nomination. With such a high minority vote, Nevada was seen as providing her a decisive win – one with a high enough margin to wash away the bad taste that New Hampshire’s drubbing left.
As recently as December, a prominent poll had her nearly 25 points ahead of Bernie Sanders, as she was quick to tell everyone who would listen.
That was then. Today, the story is so radically different that, to quote prominent local political analyst Jon Ralston:
Team Clinton is now repeating the ridiculous and false mantra that Nevada is not so different than Iowa and New Hampshire, two of the whitest states in the union.
That’s … a fairy tale, spun by a campaign that gave away its panic as the New Hampshire results became clear. From the top on down, they pushed the false narrative that Nevada had an 80 percent white voter population. This is so far from true[.] … Nevada’s electorate was at least 30 percent minority in 2008 and it is projected to be closer to 40 percent this cycle. Nevada’s Hispanic population is 27 percent[.] …
This is not the behavior of a campaign with an insurmountable lead.
Team Hillary’s false narrative has also had the effect of annoying the state’s most powerful Democrat. Nevada was moved toward the top of the list for primary and caucus states back in 2007 because Harry Reid successfully persuaded the Democratic National Committee that Nevada is a significantly diverse state, one that reflects America’s changing demographics. By putting out the defensive canard that Nevada is white-bread – ironically making Harry Reid look like a liar among other Democratic Party leaders – Team Clinton has earned thats prominent former Clinton supporter’s ire.
But Harry Reid’s pique is hardly Hillary’s biggest problem in Nevada.
Right before Iowa, she bragged about being 25 points ahead of Bernie Sanders in Nevada polls. However, last weekend, a national survey with a plus-or-minus 3-point spread called the election a dead heat: 45 to 45. In two months, Clinton’s take-Nevada-for-granted lead has evaporated…if it ever existed.
Nevada is a caucus state; oddly, the two parties caucus on different days, and this year, the Democrats come first. February 20 makes this the first state after New Hampshire. It was supposed to be a “sure thing” firewall state for Hillary, in part because of the state’s heavy Hispanic voting bloc. Hispanic voters might account for up to 40 percent of the total voters.
Taking minorities for granted is a long-established Clinton trait, even after the drubbing Obama gave her eight years ago. Clearly, she and her team counted on Nevada to stop the hemorrhaging and rebuild momentum before the South Carolina voting, but instead of her security blanket, Nevada is shaping up to be a wet blanket.
Evidencing her concern, Clinton canceled a Florida campaign trip to book another day of campaigning in Nevada, which is shaping up to be either a saving grace or a big disaster.
Sanders is also aggressively campaigning in Nevada, and if he’s not already in the lead, he seems poised to at least tie Clinton, as he did in Iowa.
In the face of the apparent wholesale abandonment by women, young voters, and Hispanics, as well as the non-endorsement from the largest union in Nevada, Team Clinton is scrambling to re-establish a bond with voters. The campaign is also struggling to come up with creative excuses – such as a “too white” electorate in Nevada – to explain why her sure-thing victory is evaporating before her eyes.
Perhaps she should also be asking herself, as Jon Ralston put it:
Why does Hillary Clinton not like white people? Or why don’t white people like Hillary Clinton?
Ned Barnett owns Las Vegas-based Barnett Marketing Communications, serving a variety of conservative causes, as well as start-up, high-tech, and health care clients. He is the author of a dozen books on professional communications and has taught communications and strategy at UNLV, the College of Southern Nevada, and a university in Tennessee. He is currently working on a new book, a practical guide on how to win elections.