It was a landslide. Bernie Sanders had been expected to win the Nevada caucuses, but not like this. With just 4% of the vote in, news organizations called the race for Sanders, since his margin of victory was so large. Sanders has now won the popular vote in all of the first three states, and is currently leading in the polls almost everywhere else in the country. He was already the favorite to take the nomination before the Nevada contest, with Democratic party insiders worrying he was “unstoppable.” His campaign will only grow more powerful now.
Importantly, Sanders’ Nevada victory definitively disproved one of the most enduring myths about his campaign: that it could attract left-leaning young white people, but was incapable of drawing in a diverse coalition. In fact, voters of color were a primary source of Sanders’ strength in Nevada; he received the majority of Latino votes. Entrance polls showed Sanders winning “men and women, whites and Latinos, voters 17-29, 30-44 and 45-65, those with college degrees and those without, liberal Democrats (by a lot) and moderate/conservatives (narrowly), union and non-union households.” The poisonous concept of the white “Bernie Bro” as the “typical” Sanders supporter should be dead.
Some members of the media establishment had no idea what to make of Sanders’ Nevada victory. On MSNBC, James Carville said that “Putin” had won Nevada, and Chris Matthews declared the primary “over” (ill-advisedly comparing Sanders’ victory to the Nazi invasion of France). Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post admitted that Sanders had been stronger with nonwhite voters than she expected, and it might now be “too late” to do anything about him.
The other candidates and their supporters did their best to spin a humiliating defeat. Amy Klobuchar said her sixth-place finish “exceeded expectations”—if sixth place is better than you expected, you’re probably not a viable candidate. Biden vowed, implausibly (and for the third time) that he would bounce back. Pete Buttigieg took to the stage to denounce Sanders, who he said “believes in an inflexible, ideological revolution that leaves out most Democrats, not to mention most Americans.” A Warren supporter rather charmingly said that while Sanders had won, Warren had the “momentum,” and the Warren campaign itself said the Nevada “debate” mattered more than the Nevada “result.”
Her drop the mic moment will have a lasting impact on the House. While many will celebrate her trolling of the president, she tore up something far more important than a speech. Pelosi has shredded decades of tradition, decorum, and civility that the nation could use now more than ever. The House speaker is more than a political partisan, particularly when carrying out functions such as the State of the Union address. A president appears in the House as a guest of both chambers of Congress. The House speaker represents not her party or herself but the entirety of the chamber. At that moment, she must transcend her own political ambitions and loyalties.
Tensions for this address were high. The House impeachment managers sat as a group in front of the president as a reminder of the ongoing trial. That can be excused as a silent but pointed message from the Democrats. Trump hardly covered himself with glory by not shaking hands with Pelosi. I also strongly disliked elements of his address which bordered on “check under your seat” moments, and the awarding of conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh with the Presidential Medal of Freedom inside the House gallery like a Mardi Gras bead toss. However, if Trump made the State of the Union look like Oprah, then Pelosi made it look like Jerry Springer.