The Hill's Campaign Report: New challenges for 2020 Dems in Nevada, South Carolina

The Hill's Campaign Report: New challenges for 2020 Dems in Nevada, South Carolina
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Welcome to The Hill's Campaign Report, your daily rundown on all the latest news in the 2020 presidential, Senate and House races. Did someone forward this to you? Click here to subscribe.

We're Julia Manchester, Max Greenwood and Jonathan Easley. Here's what we're watching today on the campaign trail. 

 

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LEADING THE DAY:

The Nevada caucuses will be held a week from Saturday, and the contest is likely to pose a new set of challenges for the party's presidential contenders.

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersGloves come off as Democrats fight for House seat in California Senate Democrats pump brakes on new stimulus checks The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Unemployment claims now at 41 million with 2.1 million more added to rolls; Topeka mayor says cities don't have enough tests for minorities and homeless communities MORE (I-Vt.) appears to be riding high. On Friday, the Nevada Poll, conducted for the Las Vegas Review-Journal and AARP Nevada, showed the Vermont senator taking the lead in the Battle Born State, followed by former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden campaign cancels fundraiser with Mueller prosecutor Twitter joins Democrats to boost mail-in voting — here's why The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation MORE and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenCOVID-19 workplace complaints surge; unions rip administration Gloves come off as Democrats fight for House seat in California Police killing in Minneapolis puts new scrutiny on Biden pick MORE (D-Mass.). Twenty-five percent are backing Sanders, followed by 18 percent for Biden and 13 percent for Warren.

Nevada is also the first state in the 2020 nominating contest where the vast majority of Democratic voters aren't white. That's likely to boost Sanders's strong support among Latino voters, who make up roughly 20 percent of the Democratic electorate in Nevada.

But Sanders is also facing unexpected trouble with one of the state's most powerful unions, the Nevada Culinary Workers Union, which criticized his plans for Medicare for All. After fierce pushback from Sanders supporters, the union on Thursday said it would decline to endorse a candidate ahead of the caucuses. But the controversy highlighted a rare split between the Sanders campaign and a union base that has been a strong ally. How the controversy impacts the vote remains to be seen.

For former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegBiden hopes to pick VP by Aug. 1 It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Here's how Biden can win over the minority vote and the Rust Belt MORE, Nevada may be his biggest electoral challenge yet. His low support among black voters has been well documented throughout most of his presidential campaign, but Buttigieg is also struggling to win over Latino voters. A November poll from Telemundo pegged his support among Latinos at just 2 percent. The Nevada Poll released on Friday showed him running neck-and-neck with Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharPolice killing in Minneapolis puts new scrutiny on Biden pick Cortez Masto says she's not interested in being Biden VP Voting rights, public health officials roll out guidelines to protect voters from COVID-19 MORE (D-Minn.) for fifth place in the state, with each taking 10 percent support.

While Biden is hoping for a top finish in Nevada, his campaign has focused more heavily on South Carolina, the first primary state in which black voters make up a majority of the Democratic electorate. Since launching his campaign last year, he has remained the dominant candidate among those voters. But there are signs that that base of support is beginning to crack. A Quinnipiac University poll released this week showed Biden's support from black voters nationally plummeting to 27 percent, down from 49 percent in a similar poll conducted in January.

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At the same time, Biden is facing stiffening competition in South Carolina, most notably from billionaire activist Tom SteyerTom SteyerBloomberg wages war on COVID-19, but will he abandon his war on coal? Overnight Energy: 600K clean energy jobs lost during pandemic, report finds | Democrats target diseases spread by wildlife | Energy Dept. to buy 1M barrels of oil Ocasio-Cortez, Schiff team up to boost youth voter turnout MORE, whose heavy spending in the Palmetto State appears to be translating to success in the polls. In two surveys released this month, Steyer jumped into double digits, placing second to Biden in an East Carolina University poll and third in a Post and Courier survey.

To be sure, there are still question marks hanging over the contests in Nevada and South Carolina. But both states are likely to give us a better picture of how the nominating contest is shaping up in more diverse parts of the country.

-- Max Greenwood

 

READ MORE: 

Beleaguered Biden turns to must-win South Carolina, by Max Greenwood

Sanders leads Biden in latest Nevada poll, by The Hill's J. Edward Moreno 

 

FROM THE TRAIL:

Warren took direct aim at former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergIt's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Liberals embrace super PACs they once shunned .7 billion expected to be spent in 2020 campaign despite coronavirus: report MORE on Thursday, accusing him of using his multibillion-dollar fortune to buy his way into contention in the Democratic presidential race, The Hill's Julia Manchester reports. Speaking at a town hall event in the Washington, D.C., suburbs, Warren also hammered Bloomberg for his past comments partially blaming the 2008 financial crisis on the end of a practice known as "redlining" in which banks discriminated against racial minorities looking to take out loans to buy homes. "Michael Bloomberg is saying, in effect, that the 2008 financial crash was caused because the banks weren't permitted to discriminate against black and brown people," Warren said. "That crisis would not have been averted if the banks had been able to be bigger racists, and anyone who thinks that should not be the leader of our party." 

 

In comments to The Associated Press, Warren also defended her struggling bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, telling the news outlet that her campaign has raised about $6 million since the Iowa caucuses and that the nominating contest remains "wide open." "There's a lot of froth. It's going to be a long process," she said. The comments came as Warren looks to get back on her feet following two middling performances in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary. In the caucuses, she placed third after former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Bernie Sanders. New Hampshire brought even worse news for Warren. She finished fourth in the state after a last-minute surge helped push Sen. Amy Klobuchar into third place.

 

Sanders has long cast himself as a staunch ally of labor unions and the candidate of the working class. But this week, he found himself at odds with one of the most powerful organized labor groups in Nevada, The Hill's Nathaniel Weixel reports. The dispute burst out into plain view earlier this week after news surfaced that the Nevada Culinary Workers Union had posted fliers criticizing the Vermont senator's signature Medicare for All plan. The fliers sparked blowback from Sanders's supporters, and union officials accused some of the senator's backers of harassing its members. Sanders responded to those claims on Thursday, denouncing online attacks against the union and its members, The Hill's Justine Coleman reports. "Harassment of all forms is unacceptable to me, and we urge supporters of all campaigns not to engage in bullying or ugly personal attacks," Sanders said. "Our campaign is building a multi-generational, multi-racial movement of love, compassion, and justice. We can certainly disagree on issues, but we must do it in a respectful manner." The Culinary Union ultimately declined on Thursday to endorse any candidate in the Democratic primary race, leaving the race for labor support in Nevada wide open ahead of its Feb. 22 caucuses.

 

PERSPECTIVES:

Theodore Johnson: Black voters to determine the fates of Buttigieg, Biden

Alex Shephard: Bernie Sanders has a MSNBC problem

 

POLL WATCH:

THE NEVADA POLL

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Sanders: 25 percent

Biden: 18 percent

Warren: 13 percent

Steyer: 11 percent
Buttigieg: 10 percent

Klobuchar: 10 percent

 

ST. PETE POLLS – FLORIDA

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Bloomberg: 27.3 percent (+10)

Biden: 25.9 percent (-15.4)

Buttigieg: 10.5 percent (+4.8)

Sanders:  10.4 percent (+1)

Klobuchar: 8.6 percent (+3.3)

Warren: 4.8 percent (-2.1)

Steyer: 1.3 percent (-0.6)

 

UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS/TEXAS TRIBUNE – TEXAS

Sanders: 24 percent (+12)

Biden: 22 percent (-1)

Warren: 15 percent (-3)

Bloomberg: 10 percent 

Buttigieg: 7 percent (+1)

Klobuchar: 3 percent (+1)

Steyer: 3 percent 

Gabbard: 2 percent (+/-0)

 

MARK YOUR CALENDARS:

There are 8 days until the Nevada caucuses, 15 days until the South Carolina primary and 18 days until Super Tuesday. 

 

CNN will host town hall events with five Democratic presidential candidates next week ahead of the Nevada caucuses. The first round of forums will begin on Tuesday. Here's the full lineup:

 

TUESDAY, FEB. 18

8 p.m. EST: Bernie Sanders

9 p.m. EST: Pete Buttigieg

10 p.m. EST: Amy Klobuchar

 

THURSDAY, FEB. 20

8 p.m. EST: Joe Biden

9 p.m. EST: Elizabeth Warren

 

The Democratic National Committee announced the date and location of the penultimate presidential primary debate on Friday, revealing that it would be held in Phoenix on March 15. Here's the upcoming debate schedule:

 

WEDNESDAY, FEB. 19 in Paris, Nev. 

TUESDAY, FEB. 25 in Charleston, S.C. 

SUNDAY, MARCH 15 in Phoenix 

 

We'll update you as soon as the DNC announces the date and location of the 12th (and final) Democratic primary debate.

 

ONE FUN THING: 

Life on the campaign trail or on Capitol Hill is stressful and time consuming! That's why we love it when politicos come out to wish their other halves a Happy Valentine's Day! 

Chastain Buttigieg gave a shout out to Mayor Pete, tweeting a picture of them together with the caption "With you, my love, I'd go anywhere." 

Former 2020 contender Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisMinneapolis erupts for third night, as protests spread, Trump vows retaliation The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation Police killing in Minneapolis puts new scrutiny on Biden pick MORE (D-Calif.) wished her husband Doug a happy Valentine's Day on Twitter as well.

Meanwhile, 2012 Republican presidential nominee Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyCoronavirus and America's economic miracle Former Romney strategist joins anti-Trump Lincoln Project Romney defends Joe Scarborough, staffer's widower: 'Enough already' MORE (R-Utah) wished his wife Anne a happy Valentine's day, and included a throwback pic. 

Finally, former President Obama gave a shout-out to his sweetheart and former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaMichelle Obama celebrates seniors, tells them to 'breathe deep and dance your heart out' at virtual prom The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Mnuchin: More COVID-19 congressional action ahead Michelle Obama working with 31 mayors on increasing voter participation MORE

We hope you and your loved ones have a very Happy Valentine's Day! We'll see you on Tuesday with the latest campaign news!