Is Hillary Clinton regaining the media frame of inevitable Democratic nominee? Probably. Is that a good thing for her? We'll see. It not infrequently has not been.
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Is Hillary Clinton regaining the media frame of inevitable Democratic nominee? Probably. Is that a good thing for her? We'll see. It not infrequently has not been.

She never wanted a coronation, did she? With the prospect of a long though now brighter struggle with socialist Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders still in store, the former secretary of state/New York senator/ first lady nonetheless took a huge step toward locking down the Democratic presidential nomination with her relatively narrow 5-point win in Nevada.

After her 2 to 1 Silver State lead over the holidays turned into a tie following the record Sanders win in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton -- with a very big boost from big Bill, aka former POTUS
-- showed her true grit once again as she eked out a hard-fought win that virtually guarantees she will emerge from February with a long-anticipated 3-1 record. Landslide Hillary's far smaller margin of victory in Iowa looms especially large today.

That is because she can count on a very big black vote delivering a big win in the February 27th South Carolina primary. After that, she seems well-positioned to win most of the states voting on a sort of "Super Tuesday" on March 1st.

Why is that? Because Hillary will get a wholly unintended and entirely ironic boost from the right-wing Republicans who run most of the old Confederate states. Wanting to further concentrate Southern influence in the Republican Party, they moved many Southern states to the same date, March 1st. And the large black populations in those states, while unable to do much to make their red states go Democratic in the general election, can concentrate their Democratic primary votes for a favored candidate. Who, in this instance, is Hillary.

The Clintons have long had a strong relationship with the black community. While they couldn't hold the black vote against the rise of Barack Obama eight years ago, for obvious reasons, once he demonstrated he could win in a white state like Iowa, the Clintons never burned their bridges.

In fact, Hillary has largely clung to Obama's coat in this campaign. And he returns the favor to his first-term secretary of state, repeatedly making pro-Hillary comments, especially in the aftermath of Sanders's big New Hampshire victory.

Without those signals from Obama, Sanders might well have achieved the huge breakthrough in Nevada that Clintonland clearly feared over the past week-and-a-half.

African Americans turned out big for Hillary in Nevada, nearly matching the Latino vote there. Despite the fortuitous surfacing of a photo of Sanders getting arrested in a '60s civil rights demonstration, Hillary pulled off an overwhelming black vote in Nevada, beating Sanders 76-22.

Which more than counter-balanced a real breakthrough for Sanders. For the curmudgeonly New Englander, who has spent decades repping a nearly all-white constituency, won the Latino vote in Nevada. As CBS reported, according to news media entrance polling, Sanders beat Hillary among Latinos, 53-45.

This, despite the presence of old friend Dolores Huerta, the legendary United Farm Workers co-founder, television star Eva Longoria, and impressive LA Congressman Xavier Becerra all campaigning hard in Nevada for Hillary.

The Clinton campaign, obviously loathe to admit this, claims that Hillary really won the Latino. Forgetting the CBS report linked above, it accuses the Sanders campaign of lying. Of course, last week, the Clinton campaign claimed that the Nevada vote would be nearly as white as Iowa and New Hampshire. Heh. National polling just prior to the Nevada vote showed Sanders and Clinton in a dead heat among Latino voters around the country.

It turns out that the Sanders economic message also works with Latinos. What a non-shock, right? Latinos will be a significant factor in a number of upcoming states. But not, for the most part, in the next two weeks.

With Hillary's campaign quite well organized on the ground, Sanders needed a big trend-oriented turnout. He didn't get it. Nevada turnout this year was roughly a third lower than it was during the ultimately inconclusive 2008 Obama-Clinton battle.

In all this, Hillary was greatly aided by the sudden post-New Hampshire intervention of her super PAC. Long intended for the general election only, the Hillary super PAC took on the chore of spending in South Carolina and states to come, allowing Hillary's official campaign to concentrate its resources on Nevada.

In this, Hillary was also aided by the efforts of the Service Employees' PAC. While anecdotal information indicates major rank-and-file support for Sanders, SEIU leadership ran TV and radio ads for Hillary in Nevada, where they also sent scores of organizers.

Then there was the casino factor.

Bill Clinton has become a familiar figure in Las Vegas. He became even more familiar in Las Vegas since the New Hampshire primary as he and Hillary campaigned up and down the Vegas Strip.

At the end, the Vegas casinos, in a heartwarming show of civic-mindedness, decided to pay casino workers who took hours off work to participate in the Nevada presidential caucuses. Hillary ran up huge margins in those casino worker caucuses.

The official story, by the way, is that former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who spearheaded the drive to move Nevada to the opening tier of contest states and is officially neutral, worries that Sanders can't win the general election. He thus asked the Culinary Union, also officially neutral this time after backing Obama to little effect in 2008, to see if it could drive up casino worker caucus participation. Of course, getting workers paid while off caucusing is not a decision in union hands.

In any event, Hillary is on track for the nomination. But if Sanders can keep raising big money online -- which requires showing his cause-oriented donors that he is making real progress -- he can win a huge number of delegates even if he does not win states outside New England. That's because the Dems, unlike the Republicans (as the opponents of Donald Trump may soon learn) are geared more toward proportional representation than winner-take-all.

Hillary may just keep grinding out an inevitable victory, much as Obama did against her in 2008. What can go wrong, right?

Well, even though I do expect Hillary to be the nominee, a couple things can go wrong.

She may prove to be a grating winner.

Or a group of voters down the track may just get tired of her and shift their votes to the alternative.

Or she and/or Bill may make a big mistake.

Or someone may release a recording of one of her extraordinarily lucrative Wall Street lectures.

Or her e-mail scandal (which seems mostly unfair, with the supposed classified materials all classified after the fact, and all of it in an environment of over-classification) may go critical, perhaps with a new legal pitfall. Though it is hard to see the Obama Justice Department actually indicting her, given the president's obvious preference for her.

As in most competitions, it's best not to let a dangerous opponent hang around the contest too long. But there doesn't seem to be much Hillary can do about that.

Especially against a candidacy that defines itself as part of a "political revolution." In addition to seeking the presidency, Bernie Sanders is on a mission to establish democratic socialism as a major alternative in American politics. I'd say he's succeeding. Wouldn't you?

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