Self-described socialist and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is barreling toward the Democratic presidential nomination after capturing a strong first-place finish in Nevada, marking the left-wing senator’s third straight win in the final days leading up to Super Tuesday.
Sanders, 78, eclipsed former Vice President Joe Biden as the crowded field’s front-runner after comfortably winning the popular vote in the Iowa caucuses and placing first in the New Hampshire primary.
The 78-year-old candidates’ decisive victory, called by Fox News just moments after voting closed in the Western state, showcases Sanders’ broad support among minority voters with just over a week remaining until Super Tuesday March 3, when 15 states and territories as well as Democrats abroad will cast their ballots in the Democratic primary.
With 10 percent of precincts reporting, Biden is in second place, followed by Pete Buttigieg in third, and Elizabeth Warren in fourth.
Biden has depended on the upcoming South Carolina contest to reignite life into his sinking campaign. Sanders, however, has been closing the gap with Biden, who remains the front-runner by an increasingly narrow margin. According to Real Clear Politics’ latest aggregate of polls, Biden is at nearly 25 percent support while Sanders follows close behind with nearly 21 percent.
Sanders’ big win in Nevada, putting the senator a major step closer to sealing up the Democratic nomination, is illustrative of how far left the party has moved since rejecting the self-described socialist just four years ago.
The senators’ consistent core of populist support, carrying him to the party’s coronation in Milwaukee, mirrors Trump’s rise four years earlier running in a crowded primary in which many claimed Trump had a low ceiling of support. Similar to the Republican primary in 2016, few candidates are expected to drop out in hopes that dividing up the delegate count will deny Sanders the necessary majority needed to capture the party’s nomination. No states in the Democratic primary this year are winner-take-all contests.
By endorsing single-payer health care, the radical Green New Deal, “free” college tuition, a $15 federal minimum wage, and the abolition of the Electoral College, Sanders has now made his left-wing progressive ideas the mainstream platform of the Democratic Party.
With a major win in Nevada, Sanders is on track to steal South Carolina from Biden’s safety net and sweep through Super Tuesday, when just more than a third of the delegates in the entire primary will be awarded. While Sanders might not capture every delegate, a strong performance may catapult Sanders to winning the 1,991 delegates needed to fend off a brokered convention in July.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, however, looms large as one of the main wild cards poised to shake up the primary. Bloomberg has dumped more than $450 million into his presidential effort since making the late-entrance leap into the race in November. With a Forbes estimated net-worth of $61.9 billion, Bloomberg has no shortage of campaign cash to drown out his opponents on the airwaves and strip delegates from Sanders in the subsequent March primary states.