Updated Feb 23, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Bernie's juggernaut

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.

Go deeper

Bernie Sanders wins Nevada caucuses

Bernie Sanders waves to supporters at a campaign rally on Friday in Las Vegas. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders is projected to handily win the Nevada Democratic caucuses, becoming the clear front-runner among 2020 Democratic presidential primary election candidates.

Why it matters: Nevada is the first state with a diverse population to hold a nominating contest, highlighting candidates' abilities to connect with voters of color — particularly Latino voters.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Feb 23, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Super Tuesday suddenly looks different

Biden celebrates in South Carolina. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Joe Biden's huge win in South Carolina is resetting the parameters of the Democratic contest ahead of Super Tuesday.

Why it matters: The former vice president's first primary victory raises existential questions for billionaire Mike Bloomberg and could slow Bernie Sanders' runaway train. And it could give new life to Biden's own withering electability argument — and ramp up pressure on moderates in his lane to drop out.

What to watch in tonight's debate: A new Joe Biden

Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden at the Democratic debate at Gaillard Center, Charleston, South Carolina, Feb. 25. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Viewers tuning in to tonight’s Democratic debate will meet a new Joe Biden — one who’s adopted two new progressive policies from Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and who’s eager to pull their supporters away from the movement they’ve built into his own coalition.

Why it matters: This could very well be the last primary debate of the 2020 cycle, and Biden knows he has to start the work of winning over Sanders’ supporters before Sanders drops out.