Bernie Sanders is poised to notch another win Saturday — his eighth victory out of the past nine Democratic primary contests — a result his campaign will likely claim gives the Vermont senator unstoppable momentum heading into a spate of bigger states.
Indeed, even before all the votes were counted in Wisconsin Tuesday, Sanders was moving to lock down Wyoming, the lone state to vote before the pivotal April 19 New York primary. He positioned himself Tuesday night at the University of Wyoming in Laramie — rather than deliver his victory speech in Wisconsin, the scene of his latest romp over Hillary Clinton.
A win in Wyoming wouldn’t put much of a dent in Hillary Clinton’s roughly 250-delegate lead over Sanders — even a runaway victory there wouldn’t net him a huge number of delegates. But the state is suddenly taking on exaggerated importance — at least for Sanders — since it advances the momentum argument that’s now central to his stump speech. As the two Democrats enter the smash-mouth phase of the primary, marked by ever-sharper attacks on each other, the least populous state in the nation is offering a chance for Sanders to strut into Clinton’s home state with confidence, knowing that an upset victory in New York could have the effect of resetting the primary.
Sanders enters 14-delegate Wyoming on the upswing: Aside from his recent victories, in Wisconsin he made gains among a wide array of demographic and ideological groups — including older voters and minorities who’ve been more resistant to his campaign.
While there’s been no public polling to date, as a Western caucus state with a largely white electorate, Wyoming has the ingredients for a Sanders victory. It also failed to warm to Clinton in 2008: President Barack Obama defeated her by 61 percent to 38 percent. Recognizing the favorable conditions — which resemble those in Idaho and Utah, where Sanders won by landslide margins on March 22 — the Sanders campaign is outspending Clinton in the state, though neither campaign is devoting significant resources there.
“We are similar to other states that Sen. Sanders has done well in. He’s performed very well in states with predominately white communities,” Wyoming Democratic Party executive director Aimee Van Cleave said. “And he does perform well in caucus states. So that pretty much describes Wyoming.”
Sanders’ path to victory in a small-turnout caucus — there are only roughly 41,000 registered Democrats in the entire state — is through making sure college students come out to vote, explained Van Cleave,
“I’d say that their biggest challenge is making sure that university students are turning out to vote,” she said.
The Clinton campaign isn’t writing off the state, even if the candidate herself hasn’t spent much time there. The Democratic front-runner has the backing of prominent state Democrats including former Gov. Mike Sullivan, former Secretary of State Kathy Karpan and state party Chairwoman Ana Cuprill. She’s also got endorsements from leaders of the Northern Arapaho and Shoshone tribes.
“This time, all of our superdelegates have come out for Secretary Clinton, so that means now it’s just a straight delegate-to-delegate fight,” said Karpan, who also backed Clinton in 2008.
Still, Wyoming Democrats say Sanders’ efforts have eclipsed Clinton — in the run-up to the caucus Sanders has spent about $72,000 on advertising over TV, cable and radio in the state while Clinton has not spent any money at all on the airwaves. Clinton also hurt her chances in the nation’s top coal producing state by stating recently that her energy policy would “put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”
“Frankly, I think Sanders was out here organizing earlier. One of the reasons Hillary lost this state to Obama last time was that she didn’t organize early. Hillary has some really good people, Kathy Karpan and others who are looking out for her and Mike Sullivan,” said former Democratic Gov. David Freudenthal, who endorsed Obama in 2008 after his caucus victory but does not support either candidate this year. “Sanders is going to benefit from having organized early and having done that.”
“The Clinton folks are a little late getting to it,” Freudenthal continued. “But there aren’t that many votes here, and I think it was the same thought she had when she was against Obama, [that] these states weren’t gonna matter so they didn’t start in the caucus states and it turned out that, frankly in the end, they may not matter now, but they certainly matter in terms of the momentum.”
Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/04/bernie-sanders-wyoming-221638#ixzz45EuMPq4h
Follow us: @politico on Twitter | Politico on Facebook