Jae C. Hong/AP
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders greets supporters after speaking at a rally in Carson, Calif. on May 17. Sanders and Hillary Clinton are vying for the state's Latino vote.

Clinton, Sanders vie for Latino vote in California

Clinton leads all California Hispanics, but Sanders leads Hispanics under 40. 

Viva Bernie?

In California, the Sanders campaign is clawing to win over young Hispanics to seize the Latino vote from Hillary Clinton.

And if Mr. Sanders can do that, he could win there June 7, nabbing the primary elections' largest prize and strengthening his argument he should remain in the race.

"A come-from-behind win for Sanders in California — a Clinton stronghold and home to 1 in 8 people in the United States — would end the former first lady's campaign with a thud, allowing Sanders to refresh his argument that he's the party's best chance to defeat Republican Donald Trump in November" wrote the Associated Press. "It would still, though, almost certainly leave him short of the delegates needed to catch up with her."

Mrs. Clinton leads California, but the loss of the Latino vote could turn the tide towards Mr. Sander. Hispanics comprise as much as one-fifth of the California electorate. In Clinton's win there in the 2008, she easily secured the demographic over President Obama, winning it 2-to-1.

However, a Field Poll last month found Sanders was the choice of Hispanics under 40-years-old. Although Clinton held a 7-point lead over Sanders among Hispanics overall, Sanders led among younger Hispanic voters by a margin of 3-to-1. Meanwhile, voter registration among Hispanics 18 to 29-year-olds is on the rise.

"It's the younger crowd and the new voters that have been really helping Sanders," Mark DiCamillo, the Field Poll director, told the Associated Press. "The question then becomes, has that momentum continued?"

It's possible, however, that Sanders could win California's Latino vote but lose anyway. Just look at Nevada, where 17 percent of eligible voters are Hispanic. Although Clinton won the caucuses, it's unclear if she or Sanders won over Hispanic vote. Some exit polls indicated it went to Sanders, while The New York Times' Upshot said Clinton won it by 60 percent.

If Sanders can win over California Hispanics, it confutes Clinton's and the Democratic Party's appeals he drop out of the race because he has no chance to secure the nomination or beat presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

According to a Pew study, almost 12 million Hispanic millennials are already eligible to vote, and that number is growing with every election, as Story Hinckley wrote for The Christian Science Monitor:

For now, their numbers are dwarfed by the 42 million white, non-Hispanic millennials, but they already account for almost as large a voting block as the Asian (3 million) and black (10 million) millennial demographics combined.

Then again, it's unclear if a California win in the general election too would contribute translate to Sanders beating Trump.

“Few states with large Hispanic populations are likely to be key battlegrounds,” explains a January Pew Research Center report. California, Texas, and New York are hardly considered toss-up states, yet together they account for 52 percent of all US Latino voters.

But Florida, Nevada, and Colorado are the outliers in a larger national pattern. Unlike the other 47 states, these three check out in both categories: they are unpredictable in presidential elections and they have a sizable Latino population. 

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