New polls suggest that Bernie Sanders has caught up with Hillary Clinton just before the Nevada caucuses to be held on Saturday.
Overall, 48% of likely caucus attendees say they support Clinton, 47% Sanders. Both candidates carry their demographic strong points from prior states into Nevada, with Clinton holding an edge among women, while Sanders tops the former secretary of state among voters under age 55.
One exception emerges though: Although the pool of potential caucusgoers in Nevada is more racially diverse than those who participated in Iowa or New Hampshire, the racial divide among likely caucusgoers isn’t nearly as stark as among voters in South Carolina, with both white and non-white voters about evenly divided between the two candidates.
But caucus outcomes are notoriously more difficult to predict than primary elections so it is pretty much up in the air.
It is clear that Bernie Sanders does not like to talk much about his personal life, preferring to steer the conversation to issues. But cartoonist and essayist Ted Rall interviewed him for his biography Bernie and he says that his poor background, when compared with the much more comfortable one of Hillary Clinton, explains a lot about his passion for social justice and economic security for all.
[Clinton’s] always been personally comfortable. Hillary grew up solidly middle class, never worrying where her next meal was coming from. Her family were right-wing conservatives, and so was she: in 1964, she was a fervently anti-communist “Goldwater girl.” She was named a partner of a law firm at age 32.
Sanders is a product of America’s huge, rarely discussed, working class — people one paycheck away from eviction and homelessness. Bernie’s father, a salesman who came here from Poland alone (his entire family was later wiped out by the Nazis in the Holocaust), struggled to make a living throughout his life. He and his wife, Bernie’s mom, constantly fought over (lack of) money. “There were tensions about money, which I think is important,” Sanders told me when I interviewed him for my biography, “Bernie.”
“There was no sense of long-term security,” Sanders recalled. “A salesman, things can go up and things can do down.”
I have noticed that Democratic politicians from well-to-do backgrounds like Al Gore and Clinton use the rhetoric of “I will fight for you”, suggesting a somewhat patronizing approach towards those who are powerless, that they need champions who will look out for their interests. But Sanders talks a lot less about what he will do for others and more about the need for people to come together for the revolution that would be necessary to overturn oligarchic control. This is far more empowering and may help to explain why his message resonates.