Going into Nevada’s Democratic caucuses Saturday night, Bernie Sanders faces a potentially formidable challenge on the state’s college campuses: a much smaller pool of potential student voters than he had in the first two nominating contests.
In both Iowa and New Hampshire, Sanders won big among 18- to 29-year-olds and he relied heavily on the vote from college campuses and enthusiastic student voters. In Iowa, for instance, the counties holding the University of Iowa and Iowa State gave the Vermont senator massive 19-point victory margins even as he just lost in the final statewide vote tally.
In Nevada it may be tougher to bring out that vote, because the data show there are simply fewer to college students to bring out.
According to Census data, 32.1 percent of the 18- to 24-year-olds in Nevada are enrolled in college or grad school. That’s nine points lower than the national figure of 43.1 percent, but it is far lower than the figures for Iowa (47.2 percent) and New Hampshire (47.1 percent).
That’s an enormous difference with Nevada sitting 15 points below the first two states that held nominating votes in 2016 in that particular population.
That doesn’t mean Mr. Sanders can’t win in Nevada. Polls show the race is quite close going into Saturday. But it suggests he won’t be able to draw as big a pool of support from a group that has been a key to his vote thus far.
Keep an eye on the younger voter numbers on Saturday night, not only to see who wins, but to see what turnout among them looks like.