Bernie Sanders proved in Nevada that he can win nonwhite Democratic votes, overturning one of the longest-running critiques of his ability to mount a credible challenge to President Donald Trump.
Sanders, who represents the whitest state in the U.S. Senate, not only held on to his majority with Hispanic voters, he added to his share of black voters.
Sanders was supported by 44 percent of nonwhite voters, according to NBC’s caucus entrance polls. That is better than double his closest rival, Joe Biden, who garnered the support of just 21 percent of nonwhite voters.
Sanders won an outright majority of Hispanic voters, with 53 percent support according to the NBC polls. Biden’s second-place produced just 16 percent support. That matched his vote share in 2016. It is a surprisingly strong result given how many more alternatives voters had this year.
Sanders also won 27 percent of black votes in Nevada, putting him second behind Biden’s 36 percent. But that is five points above where the caucus entrance polls had him four years ago.
Four years ago, black voters overwhelmingly chose Hillary Clinton over Sanders, giving Clinton close to 80 percent of their votes. That gave rise to the impression that Sanders lacked appeal to nonwhite voters.