- - Sunday, February 21, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Finally, in Nevada, the Democratic Party cracked the whip and voters fell in line.

Black and enough Hispanic voters who do not exist in Iowa and New Hampshire dutifully came out for Hillary Rodham Clinton to give her a win over Sen. Bernard Sanders, the socialist from Vermont. Mrs. Clinton was also aided by some of the party’s biggest special interest groups such as unions that work inside Las Vegas casinos.

A year ago, Mrs. Clinton was annihilating Mr. Sanders by more than 50 points. Mr. Sanders was in the low single digits as Mrs. Clinton was piercing 60.

By Saturday, Mrs. Clinton eked by on the measliest of margins. With 80 percent reporting, she topped Mr. Sanders by just 4 percentage points.

A win is a win. And considering what the field looks like going forward, it is probably safe to say that with persistent race-baiting and woman-warring, the Democratic Party will finally get Mrs. Clinton over the hump to the nomination.

For Democrats, the rest of the field looks far more like Nevada than Iowa and New Hampshire. Mr. Sanders‘ best days are now behind him. Unless Mrs. Clinton is jailed or dies of a coughing fit, Mr. Sanders will not win the nomination.

But that is not to say he will not stick around for a very long time. It is also not to say that he has not left an indelible mark on the campaign and on Mrs. Clinton herself.

Mr. Sanders has already revealed just how deeply loathed Mrs. Clinton is — even among Democrats. In his campaign, he has “mansplained” for Mrs. Clinton precisely the message and tone Democratic voters want to hear.

He has also revealed that the vaunted “Obama coalition” no longer exists. At least not at the moment. That coalition — and the entire Democratic base — is cleaved in two every bit as much as the Republican base is scattered.

The party can beat the bushes for minority voters for Mrs. Clinton, but the only Democrats who are truly and organically enthusiastic for her appears to be the elderly. She better hope her base does not die before the November general election.

The longer Mr. Sanders sticks around, the longer this caustic dissatisfaction for Mrs. Clinton is laid bare. And the longer that lasts, the less enthusiastic Democrats will be in November and the less likely the “Obama coalition” reunites for another, tired, old Clinton.

Democrat turnout in Nevada caucuses Saturday was off 33 percent from 2008. Republican voters, meanwhile, keep breaking records for turnout with every primary contest.

Doing her best to learn from Mr. Sanders, Mrs. Clinton gave another “Phew!” speech declaring a 4-point victory in Nevada.

Once again, she was wearing one of her Chairman Mao blouses — this one bright communist red. It looked almost Elizabethan — except ugly. The large, squarish collar appeared to be concealing her respirator.

“I have never believed in dividing America between us and them,” she said. It looked like the old ladies on stage behind her were struggling to keep from bursting into laughter.

Good thing she never lies.

• Charles Hurt can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @charleshurt.

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