Hillary Clinton is the projected winner of the Nebraska primary this Tuesday night, handily outpacing Bernie Sanders by a 60%-39% margin in the early returns [Update: Clinton finished with a closer 53%-47% win as Sanders closed significantly throughout the night]. The win is merely in a beauty contest, however – the delegates to the national convention were awarded in March during their Democratic caucus. Sanders won that with 57% of the vote to Clinton’s 43%.
That disparity in results from the caucus to the primary in Nebraska mirrors a similar outcome in the 2008 presidential primary. Barack Obama soundly defeated Clinton in the caucus 67.5% to 32.2%. But Clinton came much closer in the later primary trailing Obama by just 3 points in a 49% to 46% loss.
At the time that caused some controversy among Clinton supporters, upset that the caucus process – which presents significant barriers for voters to participate and receives much lower turnout – put Clinton at a disadvantage. Supporters were also aggravated by the Texas contest, in which both a primary and caucus were held on the same day. Clinton won the primary, Obama won the caucus.
Clinton did better in Nebraska this time around thanks to a strong absentee ballot effort in the caucus, which allowed more voters to participate in the caucus system. Many counties only had a single location for voters to gather in. Once the voting was made even more accessible like a normal election, Clinton won the state.
by Pat Rynard