After Bernie Sanders’ surprise victory in Indiana, he is poised to perform well in the Democratic Party’s last portion of the race. Earlier, the Inquisitr reported that 72 percent of Indy’s unaffiliated voters favored Senator Sanders, which could foretell another surprise showing in California.
Unlike previous years, California is the most important state for both Clinton and Sanders in 2016 with 475 delegates at stake (not including superdelegates). It is a semi-closed primary state, which means that only Democrats and unaffiliated voters may participate in the Democratic primary.
When Bernie won Tuesday night, mainstream news media outlets like CNN brushed off the win as unimportant. However, what they have failed to report is why Sanders’ win is a big deal, and why it could help him win California.
Young Voters are Registering in Droves
In April, California poll expert Paul Mitchell explained that new voter registrations in the state were up in record numbers during the first three months of 2016.
“Overall, registration has skyrocketed in the first months of 2016. There have been over 850,000 registrations between January 1 and March 31.”
Again, that’s 850,000 new voter registrations in just three months alone in California. And potential voters in the state have until 15 days prior to the election to register. For the Democratic primary, that gives them until May 23 to register.
An August 2015 survey shows that nearly 18 million (72 percent) of California’s 24.4 million eligible adults were registered to vote. Out of those who are frequent voters, 29 percent identify as independent. Thirty-seven percent of those independent voters lean Democratic and 29 percent are either undecided or have no preference.
More importantly, the areas with the highest voter engagement are Los Angeles County and the San Francisco Bay Area. Those two regions are both highly populated and have a large number of younger, unmarried residents. Although the data is 9-months-old, it indicates that Sanders has a good chance to either win the state or come within single digits of Clinton.
Many young voters in the Bay Area are tech workers, and unlike their bosses, they lean toward Bernie Sanders. They are attracted to his message of a $15 minimum wage, tuition-free public college, and corporations paying their fair share in taxes.
Latinos: The Sleeping Giant Awakens
With a history of low participation, it appears that the sleeping giant of California’s largest ethnic population is finally awakening. And many of them are registering as Democrats.
Mitchell’s data shows a drastic uptick in registrations revealing that by and large, Latino voters are more progressive than previous generations, which bodes well for Sanders in California.
“This year we are seeing a doubling of registration growth among Latinos, and a more than 150 percent increase for some young voters, and a near-tripling for Democrats.”
An April 7 poll released by Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with The Atlantic found some encouraging numbers for Sanders. Minority votes will likely play a big part in this state, but Bernie may still have an advantage. Although Hispanics and Latinos nationally favor Sanders and Clinton equally, California’s registration statistics are a possible harbinger of a Bernie win.
Sanders tends to be popular among young, unmarried people over all demographics. And the research indicates that Sanders could have more of an advantage than first thought. Robert Jones, PRRI CEO, stated that many Hispanic and Latino voters fit into Sanders’ strongest category.
“Latino voters are more likely to be younger than white voters and that’s been part of his appeal. He’s been able to be very strong among younger voters.”
The Sonoma Press Democrat in Sonoma County, California, reports that many eligible voters don’t exercise their right due to feelings of disenfranchisement. College student Enrique Yarce Martinez is unable to vote, but he is part of a movement to get Hispanics who are eligible to the polls.
“I tell people, ‘I can’t vote, but I want you to vote. You have that power, you have the privilege and you should be exercising it.'”
Yarce explained that eligible voters don’t vote due to their economic situations and the belief that their vote doesn’t matter. That is beginning to change, however, and Millennial Latinos have something in common with young, white voters.
Michael Madrid, a Republican consultant specializing in Latino politics has observed the similarity.
“Latino millennials are voting a lot like white millennials … the Latino electorate is finally diversifying … And we are shunning the agreed racial minority model … integrating, economically, socially, and politically.”
A recent Hispanic Heritage Foundation and My College Options survey produced results heavily favoring Bernie Sanders. The foundation surveyed Latino high school students between the ages of 14 and 18 and found that out of nearly 20,000, 60 percent, identified as Democrats. Of those Latinos who identified as Democrats, 43 percent favored Senator Bernie Sanders. Only 16 percent liked Hillary Clinton.
Although students who are not 18 by November 8 cannot vote in the California primaries, the trend is clear: Young Hispanic and Latino voters want Bernie Sanders as the nation’s next president.
Immigration and Wage Issues are a Big Motivator
One of the biggest issues among this demographic is immigration. Related to that is the issue of fair wages for them. Since 2008, Bernie Sanders has fought for fair wages for immigrants after he visited a tomato farm in Immokalee, Florida, where many Latino immigrants toiled in the hot sun to make less than $40 per week.
Bernie Sanders is the only presidential candidate in this race who has adamantly stated he supports immigration and protections for unaccompanied minors who come without documentation. Hillary Clinton, conversely, defended the policy of sending unaccompanied minors back to war-torn nations in Central America.
“…we also had to send a message to families and communities in Central America not to send their children on this dangerous journey in the hands of smugglers.”
According to the Guardian, between January 2014 and October 2015, approximately 83 deportees were murdered after returning to their home countries, some of them children. Often, immigrants come seeking refugee status, fleeing violent gangs and drug lords. So, for some Latinos, electing Bernie Sanders may be a matter of life and death.
Finally, Bernie Sanders is soaring in popularity among Latino voters in California because he believes immigration is not a political issue but a human issue. He showed that by spontaneously embracing and shaking the hands of two undocumented workers during a campaign rally in Louisville, Kentucky, Tuesday night.
Before one of the men left the podium, he leaned into the microphone and said what many in the crowd were thinking.
[Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images]