Updated Feb 23, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Bernie's juggernaut

Bernie Sanders and his wife

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks in San Antonio last night with his wife, Jane. Photo: Eric Gay/AP

Sen. Bernie Sanders won so big in the Nevada caucuses that Democrats are hard-pressed to sketch a way he's not their nominee.

Driving the news: With 60% of precincts counted (slow, but better than Iowa!), Sanders is running away with 46% of delegates — crushing Joe Biden's 20%, Pete Buttigieg's 15%, Sen. Elizabeth Warren's 10% and Sen. Amy Klobuchar's 5%.

Why it matters: This thing could be effectively over 10 nights from now, after Super Tuesday.

  • The Bloomberg campaign's Kevin Sheekey tells me that according to his models, if the current field remains on Super Tuesday (March 3), Sanders would win about 30% of the vote — and 45% of the delegates.
  • "The next candidate would have less than half that number — and little or no ability to catch up before the convention," Sheekey said.

Two other takeaways from the Silver State:

1. Sanders — whose campaign brags of a multi-ethnic, multi-generational movement — is competitive in almost every demographic, as entrance polling shows (via Washington Post):

  • He leads among white voters, has a massive edge among Latinos, dominates with both women and men, does best among both college and non-college graduates and even did best of the field among moderates/conservatives. 
  • The only places where he's not dominating, Axios' Justin Green points out, are old people (Biden has an edge), African Americans (but he's narrowed Biden's edge) and among voters who prioritize foreign policy.

2. A big factor in Sanders' blowout was strong caucus-goer support for his Medicare for All plan.

  • Six of 10 supported single-payer health care, according to the Washington Post rundown of entrance polls — more than the general public.
  • Sanders easily won that group. Voters who oppose switching to a government health plan split between Biden, Buttigieg and Klobuchar.

Before you conclude that we're seeing a groundswell for Medicare for All, check out this Kaiser Family Foundation polling, narrated by Axios managing editor David Nather:

  • 67% of Medicare for All supporters think they'll be able to keep their current health insurance. Sanders' plan would get rid of private health insurance.

That's going to matter a lot, given that health care was the most important issue for more than 4 of 10 caucus-goers — by far the biggest issue for these Democrats.

  • Don't forget: Health care was also a driving issue in the 2018 midterms, helping Democrats win the House.
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