The Race for Democratic Nominee Goes to Vegas

Following the first two contests in Iowa and New Hampshire, the Democratic Presidential Candidates set their sights on Nevada, which will hold its 2020 presidential caucus this coming Saturday.

In advance of the caucus, all of the candidates descended upon Las Vegas, which was the setting of yet another debate, held by NBC and MSNBC.

Wednesday night’s debate was the first to include former New York City mayor and billionaire, Michael Bloomberg.

The former mayor entered the race fairly late, deciding to skip the first few contests and focusing instead on Super Tuesday, which isn’t until March 3rd. So even though he participated in the Nevada debate, Bloomberg is not listed on the ballot for the Nevada caucus.

Instead of spending time on the trail and mingling with potential votes (as the other candidates have been doing for more than a year), Bloomberg has decided to spend his own money on nationwide advertisements, on both tv and online. According to Vox, Bloomberg has already spent more than $400 million on campaign ads, which is just a drop in the bucket from his almost $60 billion fortune.

Because of his ability to run without raising money from supporters, many have accused Bloomberg of trying to “buy” the Democratic nomination.

In comparison, most of the other Democratic candidates are relying on grassroots campaign donations. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are the two candidates in particular who have railed against raising campaign cash from wealthy donors or large corporations. These stark differences between Bloomberg and the other candidates were on display in last night’s debate.

There have also been a number of scandalous revelations about Bloomberg over the last few weeks, including comments he’s made in the past about minorities and crime in NYC, as well as comments he’s made about women and the unearthing of non-disclosure agreements with women who have accused him of harassment. This doesn’t even touch on the controversial stop-and-frisk policies that Bloomberg oversaw during his time as mayor. All of these controversies were brought up by the candidates on stage.


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Elizabeth Warren started the debate off by quickly attacking Bloomberg on these issues. Throughout the night, other candidates found their opportunity to attack the former mayor, who seemed to struggle to defend himself and his previous comments and actions.

Here is an example of the attacks made against Bloomberg during last night’s debate:

(Property of CNBC)

There was also some tension between candidates Senator Amy Klobuchar and former mayor of South Bend Pete Buttigieg. The two are currently fighting to win the votes of more moderate Democrats, seeing how Joe Biden (the previous front-runner) has struggled thus far, finishing fourth in Iowa and fifth in New Hampshire. It was always assumed that Biden would be the first choice of moderate voters, but that just hasn’t been the case, so Klobuchar and Buttigieg have both jumped to claim that portion of the Democratic electorate.

Pete Buttigieg in particular is trying to seize a great opportunity: he received the most delegates out of the Iowa caucus, and he finished in a strong second in the New Hampshire primary. However, many are expecting his winning streak to come to an end in Nevada, which is much more diverse than the first two mostly-white states. Buttigieg seems to have trouble getting the support an eventual nominee will need from the African American community.

Senator Amy Klobuchar seems to be facing a similar dilemma. In New Hampshire, she saw a big boost in both donations and poll numbers following that debate, and she finished in a strong third in that primary. However, just like Pete Buttigieg, it’s expected she will struggle with the minority vote in the upcoming contests.

Nevertheless, both Klobuchar and Buttigieg used their time on stage last night to continue fighting for that moderate vote.

(Property of Politico)

The one candidate that faced the least amount of attacks last night was Senator Bernie Sanders, who is now considered the race’s front-runner.

Sanders finished in a virtual tie with Pete Buttigieg in Iowa (though he received one less delegate), and then he went on to win by a small margin over Buttigieg in New Hampshire.

Recent polling has shown Sanders’ support steadily climbing to the top of the field, and it’s expected that he will walk away with another win in Nevada, even though it’s a difficult state to poll.

It’s unclear why Senator Sanders was not attacked more in last night’s debate, especially given his front-runner status, but he did not back down from using the opportunity to attack his fellow candidates. Here is a video provided by NBC New York that shows Bernie Sanders’ answers to the moderator questions and his attacks on the others on stage:

(Property of NBC New York)

As previously stated, Nevada is a difficult state to poll. This year, the state has implemented early voting for the caucus, and it has been extremely popular. So far, there have been over 70,000 early voters, which comes close to matching the number of votes cast in total in 2016, which was just about 84,000. Whether or not this is a sign that total turnout numbers will break records is yet to be seen, but candidates are feeling optimistic.

FiveThirtyEight has been tracking the average of multiple polls in Nevada, which was updated just today. Their averages currently have the candidates listed in the following order:

  1. Bernie Sanders, 26.5%
  2. Joe Biden, 15.3%
  3. Pete Buttigieg, 13.8%
  4. Elizabeth Warren, 12%
  5. Tom Steyer, 10.9%
  6. Amy Klobuchar, 10.6%
  7. Michael Bloomberg, 8.7%

We obviously won’t know the winner in Nevada until after Saturday’s caucus, and hopefully we won’t have to wait too long for the results. There have been some concerns about the upcoming caucus and the party’s ability to pull it off successfully, following the disaster that took place during the Iowa caucus. Party officials will face even more pressure in this caucus, due to the use of early voting for the very first time in Nevada, which means they will have to factor in the early caucus choices with the results reached in-person on Saturday.

Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Tom Perez, is already saying he cannot promise same-day results from the Nevada caucus, which many have pointed out sounds like the party is worried about a repeat of what happened in Iowa.

According to the AP, Perez said Tuesday at an early-voting location, “[w]e’re going to do our best to release results as soon as possible, but our North Star, again, is accuracy.”

After the caucus in Nevada this weekend, the candidates will then move on to the primary in South Carolina on February 29, which will be the most diverse electorate so far. Then, on March 3rd, the candidates will compete in Super Tuesday, which will be the first contest to have Michael Bloomberg on the ballot. Super Tuesday will also see 1,344 delegates awarded to the candidates, which is about one-third of all delegates in the primary process.

It is truly an exciting time in our country, and we will do our best to keep you updated on the race for president and a number of other down-ballot races for 2020.

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