After another close finish of 52% Clinton to 47% Sanders, in which Sanders closed a double-digit poll held by Clinton last December, a question has been answered which has long intrigued primary poll-watchers. How will Bernie Sanders fare among Latino voters, a key constituency on par with the African-American vote in terms of importance in electoral math, and especially critical in western states like California? With its huge chunk of delegates, the California primary is one of the most closely watched primaries in the season, with a victory there able to tilt the field dramatically.
With Latinos, mostly of Mexican origin, comprising a quarter of the state's voters, Nevada was to have been a "firewall"
in Clinton partly thanks to the high percentage of Hispanic voters, but Nevada entrance polls showed Sanders leading 54 to 43
with these voters.
This casts a big question mark on Clinton's hold on the demographic, which was overwhelmingly anti-Iraq War and is traditionally progressive. Sanders has not shied from pointing out Clinton's vote in favor of the Iraq War and somewhat jingoistic rhetoric in the past, such as in a speech she gave in 2008
"...we have to make clear to the Iraqis that they have been given the greatest gift that a human being can give another human being -- the gift of freedom."
It is not lost on opponents of the war that the "gift of freedom" of which Clinton spoke also came with tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians killed by US bombing raids and artillery strikes. As reported in the UK Independent in 2009, nearly 40% of people killed in US-led bombing strikes in Iraq were children. 46% were women.
Sanders' performance among Latinos in Nevada follows a similar solid performance among Iowa Hispanics. There, Sanders won the districts
which are the most heavily Latino.
Clinton's courting of the Latino vote erupted into a Twitter brushfire when her campaign released a pitch called "7 Things Hillary Has in Common with Your Abuela." Abuela is Spanish for grandmother. The web page cited such qualities as "Hillary Worries About Children Everywhere" and "She Reads to You Before Bedtime." The page offended large numbers of Latino voters who started a viral Twitter exchange, "NotMyAbuela." A young Latina woman wrote for Huffington Post
In a 2014 CNN town hall, Clinton said that unaccompanied minors crossing the US border "should be sent back." Clinton told the audience:
"Your post...troubles me. Not only because it says you "care about children everywhere," yet you once said Central American refugee children "should be sent back." Not even because you've once again appropriated our language and our culture when it's convenient for your political agenda."
Bernie Sanders' gains among Latino voters is a nationwide trend, NBC reports, as he closes a gap which until recently was greater than ten points.
"we have to send a clear message just because your child gets across the border that doesn't mean that child gets to stay."
The campaigns now head into southern states viewed as more favorable to Clinton, before moving into the final phase in which the delegate motherlodes of New York and California are at stake.
In other polls, surprises remain the order of the day. A Quinnipiac pol
l shows that, when matched against different Republican nominees, Sanders beats the Republican while Hillary loses, calling into question Clinton's much-vaunted electability. Against Donald Trump, Sanders come in at 48% in the poll to Trump's 42%, while Clinton essentially ties at 43% to Trump's 44%. The results may not be all that surprising to voters for whom Trump's main appeal is that he is a political outsider. In this context, Sanders' iconoclasm is a match for Trump's, although coming from the other side of the political spectrum. What Sanders and Trump have in common is neither seems overly concerned about being seen as Washington outliers.
Ralph Lopez majored in Economics and Political Science at Yale University. He writes for Truth Out, Alternet, Consortium News, Op-Ed News, and other Internet media. He reported from Afghanistan in 2009 and produced a short documentary film on (more...)