Bernie Wins Vermont, Struggles in Southern States

By Harry Cramer

On March 1, voters across the nation participated in the largest single-day delegate bloc of the 2016 presidential primaries, known as Super Tuesday. Although Bernie Sanders won his home state of Vermont in a landslide over challenger Hillary Clinton, he struggled to win delegates nationally. Sanders lost badly in Tennessee, Alabama and Texas but had stronger strong showings in more liberal states like Colorado and Minnesota.

On the Republican ticket, Donald Trump dominanted primaries across the board, losing only Texas and Oklahoma to Ted Cruz and Minnesota to Marco Rubio. In Vermont, Trump split delegates with John Kasich, and won most delegates in Massachusetts.
The 2016 Super Tuesday electorate was the most diverse ever, and could be an accurate barometer for similar demographics nationally. Clinton picked up the vast majority of black and latino votes in the SEC states, as the region is known because of  the NCAA conference. Nationally, this demographic trend could spell trouble for the Sanders campaign, who was only able to capture victories in a few northern states Tuesday.

In fact, Sanders’ losses on Tuesday came on the heels of a big Clinton victory in South Carolina, where she won nearly three-quarters of the popular vote. In South Carolina, Clinton was also propelled to victory by the black vote, which she won by a 5-to-1 ratio according to exit polls.

Still, Bernie Sanders has vowed to fight on. In his victory speech in Vermont, Sanders explained that the objective of the campaign was not just to elect him into office, but to start a ‘political revolution.’

“This campaign is not about just electing the president,” Sanders said, “it is about transforming America. It is about making our great nation the country that we know it has to be.”

Sanders mostly kept his speech light, referring to the attendees as ‘friends’ that he was glad to see, singing folk music onstage with other event guests, and voicing his appreciation for the strong show of support in his home state. However, he also took the opportunity to explain that America needed to do some serious self-reflection, an opaque reference to the bigoted rhetoric coming from GOP frontrunner Donald Trump.

“[My campaign] is about dealing with some unpleasant truths in this country,” said Sanders at the rally, “and having the guts to confront those issues.”

Sanders spent the day on Tuesday in Burlington, where he cast a ballot for himself. Sanders’ relationship with the Vermont capital stretches back over three decades. From 1981 to 1989 he served as Burlington’s mayor, and he kicked off his campaign on the Burlington waterfront in May of last year.

Another candidate that has spent a lot of time in Vermont is John Kasich. He came in second in New Hampshire to Donald Trump, albeit by 20 percentage points. Right next door, Vermont may be have been his best chance of winning a state so far.
“I love Vermont,” Kasich said at a rally in Colchester last month. “I get the sense of rugged independence, but not removed from being connected to your neighbor.”

Despite his campaigning here, a Kasich victory barely puts the governor on the political radar. Although politicians like Kasich might not like it, after Super Tuesday the country must begin to grapple with the prospect of a Trump candidacy and what that means for the nation.

Hillary Clinton was particularly incisive in her criticism of Trump following his string of victories Tuesday. In a victory speech in Florida, Clinton said that  the Republican campaign was dividing the country instead of bringing Americans together.

“Instead of building walls, we’re going to break down barriers and build ladders of opportunity and empowerment so that every American can live up to his or her potential because then and only then can America live up to its full potential too,” Clinton said during the speech in Florida. “The rhetoric we’re hearing on the other side has never been lower. Trying to divide american between us and them is wrong and we’re not going to let it work.”

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