Thousands of Bernie Sanders supporters felt the wind go out of their sails on Saturday when Hillary Clinton took down the Nevada caucuses. Clinton won the state by roughly five percentage points – hardly a blowout, but enough to once again claim undisputed frontrunner status. After a razor-thin win in Iowa and a brutal loss in New Hampshire, Clinton appeared as though she might be in trouble heading into Nevada. But a low turnout combined with Sanders’ inability to significantly cut into Clinton’s lead among minorities could spell the beginning of the end for the socialist senator.
“We look at our country and see so much that isn’t working the way it should,” Clinton said in her victory speech. “Americans are right to be angry, but we’re also hungry for real solutions.”
This has become Clinton’s mantra as she struggles to defeat Sanders without attacking him from the right. She is positioning herself as a pragmatic progressive and a sycophantic champion of President Obama; her campaign has made it a sin to criticize the current administration. While that’s cynically aimed at protecting her lead with black voters, it could come back to bite her in the general election. No matter what she says, blacks are not going to come out in Obamaesque numbers to vote for her.
That could be the real story of this election for Republicans. After extraordinary turnout in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, Republican voters are clearly excited about the 2016 race. On the other side, Democrats are mostly staying home. If that apathy carries over into the general, we could be looking at the final months of a Democratic White House.
And while the smart money is on a Clinton nomination, she no longer seems invincible. She’s getting less popular by the day as questions mount about her honesty, her integrity, and her cozy relationship with Wall Street. She is dead in the water with young voters and the investigation into her use of a private server is still very much ongoing. If there is any tangible excitement surrounding her gender, it has yet to manifest in any real way.
For an American public sick of corruption, scandal, and the Washington establishment, Hillary Clinton is the wrong candidate at the wrong time. She’s irritated the liberal base with her attacks on Sanders, she’s alienated feminists with her heavy-handed guilt-trip, and she’s got more baggage than a cargo jet. Could she still pull it off? Of course, she’s a Clinton. But for anyone who wants to see a Republican win in November, the chances are looking better and better.