After a very small and tumultuous caucus in Nevada, the mainstream media is once again ready to anoint Hillary Clinton as the presumptive Democratic candidate. The Nevada Secretary of State lists 471,342 active registered Democrats in Nevada, but the caucus garnered about 12,000 votes. Clinton received 52.6%, and Sanders 47.3% of those votes. I have seen accusations that unregistered, possibly out-of-state, voters were allowed to caucus for Clinton, but that wouldn’t have mattered if a substantial youth vote had materialized for Sanders. Low turnout is bad for Sanders, and will be bad for Democrats in the general election.
Sanders needed Nevada because the next handful of primaries include a raft of Southern states – South Carolina, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, North Carolina – that poll strongly in favor of Clinton. In two primaries – Florida and Ohio – Sanders is polled as being competitive and in one – Massachusetts – Sanders is favored. All of that could change, of course, because Sanders has shown that he can make up ground as the actual voting date gets closer, but the loss in Nevada gives the media a sound bite against him.
After a larger Republican primary in South Carolina, the mainstream media is still talking about Cruz and Rubio, and still resisting the idea that Trump is winning this thing. It would be a historic collapse for Trump to win New Hampshire and South Carolina, then lose the candidacy, but then Trump is a historically unconventional candidate. He could yet implode by doubling down on his tendency to sound off like Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, but it is looking less and less likely that his core supporters won’t forgive anything he says or does.
So, in the lead right now we have a weak establishment Democrat vs a weak outsider Republican.
I say weak because I think both candidates have unfavorables that limit the number of voters that will hold their noses and punch the card for them. For several months Nate Silver has been citing polling data to establish Trump’s ceiling at about 35%, but while I think that there are a lot of people that will stay home or vote third party rather than vote Trump, his ceiling could very well rise if his opponent is Clinton. Hillary Clinton has a lot of baggage, little personal warmth and some further investigation of her email server would damage her even more. A lot of Republicans will never, ever vote for her no matter how much they dislike Trump.
I suspect that three factors could decide an election between Clinton and Trump:
1 – Outsider voters will either vote for an outsider candidate or stay home. I know some millenials who say they would vote for Trump if Sanders is not an option.
2 – If the economy cracks before the election, people will swing to the out-of-power party.
3 – A third party run by Bloomberg, or someone like him, would probably sap the outsider vote, and probably help the establishment candidate.
I have seen some very bright posts by people, though, who note that a revolutionary movement cannot rise and fall on the strength of one election of one candidate. To change anything, millennials must do what the tea party has done: attempt to replace all the establishment candidates on all levels of government with candidates that reflect their views. Replacing national senators and representatives will be difficult because of corporate lobbying, gerrymandering and attacks on voting rights, but it may be the only way to actually change government without bloodshed.