Sen. Bernie Sanders handily won the Nevada caucus this weekend, receiving just under half the share of votes, followed by former Vice President Joe Biden who came in second with 20 percent of the vote.
The Nevada primary represents the first real feedback for how Latino voters are responding to the presidential candidates. Unlike the two other majority-white early voting states, Nevada boasts a more diverse population with Latinos representing about a fifth of eligible voters in the state.
Two facts from this weekend’s caucus hint at good news for Sanders in Texas on Super Tuesday, now only a week away.
First, early exit polls from Nevada show Sanders netting 51 percent of support from Latino caucus-goers. The same exit polls also show Sanders won a majority of voters under the age of 65, with the strongest share of support coming from the 17-29 age group.
Those two demographics are critical to winning the Lone Star State, which has a younger and larger Latino population than Nevada. In Texas, 5.6 million or about a third of eligible voters are Latino.
“There isn’t a de-facto or natural Latino candidate,” Mark Jones, a leading political scientist with Rice University told the Signal. “And so Sanders has been very successful in reaching out to Latinos, which would lead us to suspect based on both the Nevada results and the polling here in Texas that he should do quite well with Latino voters in the Democratic primary.”
A new poll released Monday by the University of Houston shows Sanders receiving 30 percent of Latino support from likely Texas Democratic primary voters. The next closest is Biden with 19 percent.
The same poll shows Sanders is still lagging behind Biden in support from Black voters. Biden commands 46 percent of support from Black primary voters in Texas while Sanders holds 15 percent, about the same as other leading candidates in the race besides Biden.
Similar to Nevada and Latino voters, the South Carolina primary at the end of the week will be the first real test for where Black voters stand among the candidates. Polls in the state show Biden leading Sanders by a few percentage points.
Early voting in Texas is already underway. The last day to vote early is this Friday. Texas will join more than a dozen other states in voting on Super Tuesday on Tuesday, March 3.
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