Sanders wins Nevada, Bloomberg knocked down in ninth Democratic debate

Bernie Sanders won an overwhelming victory in the Nevada caucuses Feb. 22. With 60 percent reporting, as of Feb. 23, Sanders has already claimed 46 percent of the votes and 10 delegates. While the results will certainly change, it is unlikely that anyone will knock Sanders down from his front-runner status. 

The Nevada caucuses work similarly to the Iowa caucuses, which I explained in my political column, “The Iowa caucus results are in, but do they really matter?”, linked here. At the beginning, voters show up and cast their “first alignment” vote. Based off of that vote, candidates with 15 percent or more are deemed “viable” and can move on to the “final alignment” vote. Voters whose candidates did not make the cut can then realign themselves with a “viable” candidate for the “final alignment”. For a great interactive infographic that goes more in-depth on the way the Nevada caucus is conducted, check out this article (linked here) from The New York Times. 

Just three days before the Nevada caucuses, the ninth Democratic debate was held in Paradise, Nevada.

Transparency was a major talking point in the debate. The candidates challenged Bernie Sanders about not fully releasing his medical records and Amy Klobuchar came clean about forgetting the Mexican president’s name. In that spirit, I’d like to be honest and admit that being sick the night of the debate, I only watched the first hour. However, I did see enough to know one thing: Mike Bloomberg got completely destroyed. 

Up until this debate, the billionaire has been personally funding all of his campaign ads, which air on television seemingly 24/7 and before every YouTube video I watch. This exposure gave him a boost in the polls that proved to the other candidates in the race that he is an actual threat. However, he had never appeared at a Democratic debate until Wednesday night.  

While there was the regular sparring between all of the candidates over hot topics like health care, they were united in creating a front against Bloomberg. From the start, Bloomberg was challenged about his controversial past policy decisions, such as the stop-and-frisk policing he endorsed as mayor of New York. Elizabeth Warren’s scathing criticism of the former New York mayor was quoted in nearly every news article I read the morning after the debate. 

“I’d like to talk about who we’re running against: a billionaire who calls women fat broads and horse-faced lesbians,” Warren said. “And no, I’m not talking about Donald Trump. I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg.”

Bloomberg responded to the heat at first with a resume of his political career. Perhaps, he hoped that by not interacting with the blows, he could get off unscathed. On the contrary, the candidates took this as a weakness and continued to attack him for his controversial past. 

When Warren confronted Bloomberg about the nondisclosure agreements women at his news media organization had signed. Bloomberg called these agreements “consensual” and did nothing to quiet the rumors that he had harassed and discriminated against multiple women. Instead, he bowed his head. At some points during Warren’s interrogation, I thought he might just walk off the stage. It was pathetic, really. 

But while Bloomberg was the clear loser, who won? Not Joe Biden. He, just as in every debate, droned on about his time in the Obama administration. Not Amy Klobuchar. She got nailed by the Colombian moderator Vanessa Hauc for forgetting the president of Mexico’s name during a recent interview, leaving Klobuchar fumbling and shaking on stage. Not really Pete Buttigieg. He made the same points as always and had a kind of unextraordinary night. Maybe Bernie Sanders. The front runner in New Hampshire and Nevada received a lot of air time and stayed, for the most part, above the Bloomberg drama. Now, Elizabeth Warren. If anyone really “won” the debate it would be her. After Wednesday night, social media and news stations praised Warren for her unwavering attacks on Bloomberg. She spoke to women’s rights activists, she spoke to minorities and she spoke to the working class in her refusal to let Bloomberg off the hook for his past inappropriate behavior. 

I think the root of this praise is not just because people dislike Bloomberg. I think the real reason so many people admired Warren’s fight was because when they saw her contest the former mayor, they began to envision her doing the same to Donald Trump. For the first time, people seemed to gain hope that there is someone in the Democratic race powerful enough to stand up to the president. 

While Sanders holds a strong lead in the caucuses thus far, I do believe that Warren’s performance at the ninth Democratic debate could impact how people vote in the South Carolina primaries Feb. 29 or Super Tuesday March 3. We’ll just have to wait and see.