In an earlier post I mentioned that Hillary had demonstrated in Nevada the skill – political and organizational – to assemble a broadly-based coalition that included most of the main categories of voters that are crucial to winning the nomination. I further added that Bernie hadn’t done that yet. And that is something that he must do, and do quickly, if he hoped to win the nomination, as the primary season headed to the South and Midwest.
Yesterday in the South Carolina primary, he didn’t change this dynamic. In fact, the differences in political reach between the two candidates became even more pronounced. In capturing roughly 3 out of 4 voters, Hillary proved once again that she is able to build broad support around her candidacy. African American voters voted overwhelming for her, but other voters did too, if not in such overwhelming numbers. The biggest exception was white men. In contrast, Bernie’s main support came from a narrow spectrum of voters, young white people in the first place. It is unlikely this dynamic will change in any appreciable way when voters go to the polls on Tuesday.
While the reasons for this evolving dynamic are many, I would argue that a good part of the explanation lies with the sophistication of the main sections of the electorate. Unlike some of the left and Bernie’s supporters, they don’t box Hillary into a neoliberal, warhawk corner. In their view, Hillary’s record and politics are more complex and many sided than that. Her experience as well as human touch and fluency in the politics of equality and discrimination are judged superior to Bernie’s. They believe that she is best equipped to beat the right wing barbarians in November as well as build on the policies of the Obama administration in the years ahead. They are also excited – and rightfully so – about the possibility of electing the first woman president.
Time will render a verdict on such views, as it always does. But for the moment I wouldn’t dismiss such thinking out of hand.