Bernie Sanders’ commanding Nevada caucus victory made him a top target for his Democratic rivals and a growing source of anxiety for establishment Democrats worried that the nomination of a self-avowed democratic socialist could cost the party the White House.
Sanders’ win solidified his front-runner status in the crowded field as the race turns to Saturday’s presidential primary in South Carolina, where his moderate opponents will scramble to try to blunt the Vermont senator’s momentum. Just three days later after that contest, 14 states vote on Super Tuesday, March 3, when one-third of the delegates are awarded. A strong showing in those states could put Sanders on a glide path to the nomination against Republican President Donald Trump.
That prospect has amplified concerns for Democrats who believe Sanders’ liberal policies will drive away moderate and independent voters in the general election in November. South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, the top-ranking black leader in Congress, warned of added risk for Democrats if Sanders was the nominee.
“I think it would be a real burden for us in these states or congressional districts that we have to do well in,” Clyburn told “This Week” on ABC.
He noted that congressional districts that helped Democrats win back the House are moderate and conservative. “In those districts, it’s going to be tough to hold on to these jobs if you have to make the case for accepting a self-proclaimed democratic socialist,” Clyburn said.
Sanders’ campaign argue the candidate will bring in new voters — largely progressives, young people and voters of color — who have been alienated by politics.
He successfully relied on that coalition Saturday to dominate his Democratic rivals in Nevada, pulling far ahead of second-place finisher former Vice President Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who came in third. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren landed in fourth, while Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Tom Steyer were still in a close race for fifth on Sunday.
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