Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) has been closing the gap with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in both national and early-state surveys as of late. But he still hasn’t solved perhaps the biggest obstacle on his theoretical path to victory.
A new Monmouth University poll released Tuesday found Sanders trailing Clinton, 52-37, among national Democratic voters.
But a vast majority of minority voters still overwhelmingly favour Clinton. Thursday’s poll showed 71% of black and Latino voters supporting Clinton over Sanders’ 21%, which was an increase from her 61-18 advantage with the groups in last month’s national poll.
“With a shrinking margin, a strong showing by Sanders in Iowa and New Hampshire could cut Clinton’s national lead even more. However, he would still have to overcome Clinton’s demographic advantage in the ensuing contests,” Monmouth University Polling Institute director Patrick Murray said in a statement.
Though Sanders continues to poll well among New Hampshire and Iowa voters, who are disproportionately white and more liberal, Clinton retains a key edge among voters in South Carolina and Nevada. The latter two February contests’ voters represent a more diverse swath of the electorate.
“The good thing for her, and the bad thing for Sanders, is that because he spent so money and put so much stock in [Iowa and New Hampshire], I don’t see where it gets better for him,” one Democratic strategist unaffiliated with any 2016 campaign told Business Insider last week. “I don’t see him winning Nevada. You look at that electorate and the amount of Latinos that represent the Democratic Party in Nevada. I don’t see him making inroads there.”
The Sanders campaign appears well aware that much of its success beyond Iowa and New Hampshire relies on gaining support among minority voters.
The Sanders campaign has hired a large staff in Nevada to make up ground against Clinton, who’s been operating in the state since launching her campaign last spring.
Arturo Carmona, the Sanders campaign’s director of Hispanic media, said during a press call late last month that even if Latino support for Sanders isn’t yet reflected in polling, the campaign has seen an uptick in interest from Hispanic volunteers, who are helping with Spanish-language phone-banking efforts in the state.
“Latinos are really gravitating toward our campaign, and the numbers are changing every day, especially in states like Nevada,” Carmona said.
He added: “We had thousands of Latino and Spanish-speaking volunteers doing a call a couple weeks back with one of our celebrity endorsers, George Lopez. We got nearly 1,000 volunteers in one hour.”
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