- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Bernard Sanders may have won the hearts and minds of young progressives in Iowa and New Hampshire, but he’s likely to hit a wall in Nevada, which holds the next Democratic nominating contest, among voters whose diversity and pragmatism are likely to resist the insurgent’s call to revolution.

With Latinos playing a large role, and a Democratic electorate that has a wider ideological range, Mr. Sanders will have to stretch his message to try to reach the party faithful in the Feb. 20 caucuses.

“The knock on Bernie is he appeals to the more elite, liberal wing of the party,” said Eric Herzik, the political science department chair at the University of Nevada, Reno. “Nevada is the first state where he’s going to compete where there’s a significant minority voting group in Latinos. The Democratic Party here is diverse economically and ideologically. You have fewer real liberal Democrats, so that’s going to be a tougher mix for Sanders to deal with.”

According to entrance polls in Iowa, Mrs. Clinton won 58 percent of the votes from people with a high school education or less, compared with Mr. Sanders’ 39 percent. She also won by a 35 point margin those who self-identify their ideology as “moderate,” and lost by a 19 point margin those who identified as “very liberal.” Iowa, like New Hampshire’s electorate, is overwhelmingly white.

That’s not the case with Nevada, where racial or ethnic minorities are expected to make up nearly 40 percent of the electorate, and more than half of them are Hispanic. Fifty-two percent of registered Latino voters in the state are Democrats.

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign is counting on Mr. Sanders to stumble once the primary calendar gets beyond the heavily white and liberal voters in the first two states.

SEE ALSO: Bernie Sanders adds momentum with New Hampshire primary win

According to an internal memo obtained by ABC News before the New Hampshire primary and written by Robby Mook, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager, Mr. Sanders’ strength in the early primary states was a direct result of demographics, which are not representative of the entire country.

“The voters of New Hampshire have a history of supporting candidates from New England. So it’s not surprising that Sanders maintains [a] double-digits lead in the polls there,” Mr. Mook wrote. “After New Hampshire, the races become considerably more challenging for Bernie Sanders as the contest moves to Nevada and South Carolina, states with electorates that strongly favor Hillary.”

Mr. Sanders’ repeated attacks against Mrs. Clinton’s progressive credentials don’t seem to mean much to Silver State voters.

“The art of democracy is the art of compromise, and politics is the art of what’s possible, and that’s what Hillary is saying,” said Janice Flanagan, a longtime political activist with the Democratic Party of Washoe County in Nevada.

Mr. Sanders has at many times come across as “holier than thou” with his messaging, making “perfect” the enemy of “good,” she said.

“Bernie’s been in Congress for more than 20 years, and people think he’s a political newcomer. Do you know why they think that? Because he hasn’t achieved anything,” said Ms. Flanagan, who will be caucusing for Mrs. Clinton.

Kimi Cole, a transgender activist and party leader in Minden, Nevada, is also supporting Mrs. Clinton.

“She won me over when she was first lady in the White House. I like her positions, think she’s always been a fighter for the common person, and she has learned and evolved and embraced changing times. She’s very progressive,” Ms. Cole said.

Mr. Sanders’ attacks on Mrs. Clinton’s liberal credentials fell on deaf ears with Ms. Cole.

“That argument doesn’t sway me. It’s a dangerous way to look at it: ‘Look at me, I’m more progressive.’ What does that really mean? What are the presumptions and opinions that go along with it?” Ms. Cole said. “I want to know what the candidates’ issues are, what their policy positions are. I don’t rely on catchwords.”

Mr. Sanders’ team acknowledges they’re the underdog in both Nevada and South Carolina. His campaign is trying to build an operation to shore up the Latino vote. This month Mr. Sanders received an endorsement from former assemblywoman and Latina Lucy Flores, who is currently running for Congress.

“There’s an immense amount of momentum out there in the Latino community as well for Bernie Sanders, and I just think he presents a different type of vision and a different kind of perspective,” Ms. Flores told the CBS station in Las Vegas this month.

Mr. Sanders faces some structural challenges in Nevada’s caucuses, including the time. Where Iowa’s caucuses began at 7 p.m. on a Monday, Nevada Democrats gather at 11 a.m. on a Saturday — not a great time for a campaign hoping to maximize youth voter turnout. Mr. Sanders won the youth vote by a 70 percent margin in Iowa.

In addition, Mrs. Clinton started organizing her ground game in April, whereas Mr. Sanders just put his team together late last year, according to Mr. Herzik. And Mrs. Clinton won the Nevada caucuses in 2008, with Mr. Mook heading her ground game that year.

“I think there will be a good turnout. I don’t expect the youth just to sit on their hands, but that is Sanders’ challenge. He has to depend on self-starters, where the Clinton people have been reaching out, making the contacts and pushing people to the caucus,” said Mr. Herzik.

Mr. Sanders’ campaign remains optimistic.

“We’ve had people in Nevada on the ground for months and months now, and it’s no secret that Hillary Clinton has outspent us in the state,” said Rania Batrice, a Sanders spokeswoman. “Not only do we have great staff, but we have passionate volunteers in Nevada and other states as well. We’re not taking anything for granted. We’re very committed and believe in Bernie and the message he’s been delivering.”

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