Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was the big winner, claiming his second straight victory and heading into the South Carolina’s primary next Saturday with a considerable amount of momentum. It was a far tougher night for the like of Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts) and Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota).
Below, an extended look at the best and worst from the day — and night — that was.
* Bernie Sanders: Yes, the Vermont democratic socialist was the favorite in Nevada going into the caucuses. But few people projected such a sweeping win — not only doubling the support of the second-place finisher, but doing so in ways (most notably his huge support among Latinos) that suggest he is on his way to building a national coalition. The dynamic of the race is now very simple: Sanders is the clear front-runner, and everyone else in the field is vying to be the Sanders alternative.
* Joe Biden: After finishing fourth in Iowa and fifth in New Hampshire, the former vice president badly needed some good news. And Nevada gave him just enough of that to keep him going for another week, through the South Carolina primary. But there’s warning signs everywhere for Biden in the numbers; he got crushed by Sanders among Latinos, won black voters over Sanders by less than double-digits and played to a tie with Sanders among moderate voters. Biden desperately has to win South Carolina, and Sanders’ demonstrated strength across a broad coalition is very problematic there.
* Donald Trump: The rise of Sanders — and the considerable concern within elements of the Democratic Party about nominating a democratic socialist — means that this primary season is going to be very long and likely very nasty, as the party dukes it out over what its present and future should look like. All of that is great news for Trump, who continues to consolidate GOP support and whose campaign continues to stockpile cash. Plus, whether or not he is right, Trump quite clearly believes Sanders is his easiest general election opponent — and right now the Vermont senator is the favorite to be just that.
* Amy Klobuchar: The Minnesota senator surprised the political world in New Hampshire with a strong close that got her to third place. But the 10 days in between New Hampshire and Nevada clearly sapped Klobuchar of the momentum she had built. Her lackluster showing in Nevada will make it very difficult for Klobuchar to make any noise in South Carolina and that, in turn, will make her chances of winning delegates on Super Tuesday very, very long. It may well be time for Klobuchar to start rethinking whether she wants to remain in the race.