Will Bernie Sanders Win In Wyoming? The Cowboy State Seems Ready For A Bern-ing Ride
Bernie Sanders has been on a winning streak, picking up seven states in the past two weeks. So, is Sanders favored to win in Wyoming on Saturday? The Democratic challenger is likely to pick up most of the Equality State's 14 delegates and carry the popular vote. Let's take a look at some of the trends to keep an eye on.
Wyoming is a closed caucus state like the recent contests in Alaska, Maine, Nebraska, and Colorado. Sanders bested former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in each contest, winning a majority of delegates in each case. According to 2014 census data, Wyoming is a sparsely populated, mostly rural state with less than 600,000 inhabitants. There are slightly more men than women — 51 percent to 49 percent, which is a demographic anomaly given the fact that women outnumber men by 4 percentage points nationwide. Non-Hispanic white people make up the majority of the population at 84.5 percent, with Hispanics as the most sizable minority presence at 9.8 percent.
Polling states like Wyoming isn't always a cost-effective measure for campaigns or media outlets. It's also an off-year for the state's gubernatorial and senatorial races, and only one Democrat is running for the lone House seat. In other words, there is pretty much nothing else happening election-wise to keep track of. This cycle, there hasn't been any publicly available polling done for Wyoming, but it is still possible to say that Sanders could prevail.
Since it is a closed caucus state, the only voters will be registered Democrats. It is a state that offers same-day voter registration, according to the secretary of state's voter information website, so if the Sanders operation is able to mobilize large numbers of voters — like in the record-breaking caucuses of neighboring Idaho — it is likely that the results will favor the senator from Vermont. Voter turnout also beat expectations in Wisconsin by over 7 percent, according to data from the Government Accountability Board cited by the AP. Voters haven't been so energized since Sen. George McGovern captured a win in Wisconsin in 1972.
Wyoming itself is a state with a relatively high civic engagement rate relative to the rest of the country. According to data from the secretary of state, turnout in presidential elections years has steadily increased since 2000, with a net gain of new voters on Election Day — thanks to same-day registration — ranging anywhere from 1 to 6 percent. It is a traditionally Republican state, though, which clearly preferred former governor Mitt Romney in 2012 and Sen. John McCain in 2008 over their Democratic counterparts. From the looks of Sanders' recent rally in Laramie, there is a sizable chunk of energized supporters in the state who are feeling the Bern, though.
In a primary season that will seemingly stretch all the way to the convention in Philadelphia, every delegate and, therefore, every vote matters. If Sanders wins Wyoming, it is possible that all or some of the four state superdelegates will decide to switch over to Sanders and side with their people. Otherwise, they risk losing legitimacy, and potentially their elected positions, next time around.
It is unlikely that Wyoming will break Sanders' winning streak. If it does, look for a serious re-calibration of tone and strategy in the Democratic race as spring begins to blossom.