One big win on a good night for Bernie Sanders in Iowa was perhaps less expected than his strong overall showing – the Vermont Senator won the support of over 4 in 10 voters from the albeit small number of minority caucus goers in the state.
Sanders recorded huge wins at caucuses held at Islamic centres, in black areas and with Hispanic voters. This is a marked shift from 2016, when according to the CNN Iowa entrance poll Sanders won just 34 percent of non white voters in what was effectively a two candidate race. This time, in a spread out field, the figure was 43 percent.
One big issue for Sanders in 2016 being his relative lack of support with minorities, with a narrow loss in Nevada and big loss in South Carolina to finish February killing off the momentum he had gained from his own big win in New Hampshire and his near tie in Iowa.
But this time around, things are looking different. A HarrisX poll released late last month shows Sanders polling at 34 percent nationwide with Hispanics, a boost going in to Nevada where they made up 19 percent of caucus goers in 2016.
Even more crucially, Sanders is picking up support with black voters; he got just 14% of the black vote in South Carolina in 2016; his support levels nationwide are hovering in the low teens, but given the state of the race that’s a reasonable number, and crucially he has high favourability, and an Ipsos poll in mid January put him slightly ahead of Joe Biden, and well ahead of all other candidates when the question was asked “who would you consider voting for”.
All the signs point to Sanders increasingly cutting through with this crucial constituency
Whilst the Iowa and New Hampshire electorates have been quite rightly criticised as being unrepresentative of America as a whole, when combined the 4 electorates that vote in February are much more representative of America as a whole.
For Sanders to take front runner status in to Super Tuesday, he needs to do well in Nevada and South Carolina, and as we’ve outlined, he’s looking increasingly likely to do so.