HillaryWorld is feeling the Bern.
or months, pundits have marked Nevada in the “win” column for Hillary Clinton, who was thought to hold an unassailable lead with the state’s large Hispanic population. But according to a new poll, Clinton might not win Nevada in the landslide that everyone predicted. In fact, she might not win it at all.
Somehow, while everyone was focused on the showdown between her and Bernie Sanders scheduled to take place in South Carolina next week, the gap between the two Democratic rivals had quietly narrowed from 23 points in December to a gut-wrenching one point in a CNN/ORC poll released on Wednesday, just three days before the caucus.
Allies in Clinton’s orbit are panicking, according to The Hill, as the campaign prepares for the possibility of losing a state that one Democratic strategist called “tailor-made” for Clinton. Latinos have long been considered a key part of Clinton’s supposed minority firewall against Sanders, whose victories in New Hampshire and Iowa were driven by white voters, but political observers everywhere will now have to revisit that assumption. “I don’t get it. I don’t think anyone expected this race to look like this,” one former Clinton aide said.
No matter how Nevada shakes out on Saturday, anything less than a Clinton blowout could be disastrous for her campaign, especially in a state that was once so obviously one-sided that no one had bothered to poll there since December 2015. Even if Clinton ekes out a narrow win, much like she did in Iowa, the fact that Sanders was even close will prove that his minority outreach is working, giving him added momentum going into the South Carolina Democratic primary one week later. Or, as one friend of the Clintons put it in more colorful, relatable terms to The Hill: “The shit will hit the fan.”
The surprising surge of Sanders in Nevada has only added to speculation that much like Barack Obama in 2008, the crotchety Vermont senator could present a strong challenge to Clinton’s once-inevitable nomination, if not snatch it from her outright. Statistics guru Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight has even laid out a numerical path to a Sanders victory, projecting how much he needs to outperform expectations to secure the nomination. In Nevada, assuming she holds a 12-point lead nationally, Hillary should be winning by 15 points. That may not be happening anymore. If it doesn’t, that could mean Clinton is in for one hell of a fight.