Ruth Fremson / New York Times

Bill and Hillary Clinton wave to supporters in Las Vegas on Saturday

February 21, 2016

Students React To South Carolina and Nevada Results

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After the results of the Nevada and South Carolina primaries rolled in Saturday evening, several students shared their conflicting reactions to Hillary Clinton’s Nevada primary victory and Donald Trump’s win in South Carolina.

In Nevada, Clinton won the democratic primary by a margin of four percent and received four more delegates than Bernie Sanders. In South Carolina Trump won 32.5 percent of the votes and all 50 delegates, whereas Rubio and Cruz won 22.5 percent and 22.3 percent of the votes, respectively.

Nate Jara ’16, vice president of the Cornell Democrats, predicted that Clinton’s victory in Nevada will build momentum for her campaign.

“Clinton has built a massive lead in southern states and a strong performance on Super Tuesday could be a blow Sanders might not be able to recover from,” he said. “These next two weeks will likely determine which candidate carries momentum through the rest of the primaries.”

Clinton’s victory should help her gain voters’ confidence, according to Rebecca Saber ’18, founder of the Facebook page “Hillary for America at Cornell University.”

“By winning Nevada, Hillary proved to her supporters and undecided voters alike that she is capable of winning the Democratic primary,” Saber said.

Sanders’ loss indicated a lack of minority support, evident in his failure to appeal to the large minority population in Nevada, according to Fernando Quiroz ’16, president of Cornell Political Union.

“While several caucuses still remain, the weak appeal to minority voters tonight could indicate a critical flaw in the Sanders campaign,” he said.

Jake Zhu ’18, first vice chair of Cornell Republicans, said he agrees with this analysis of Sanders’ weakness as a candidate.

“Bernie has been running one of the ‘whitest’ Democratic primary campaigns in recent history as there is hardly any racial diversity among his supporters,” he said.

Students also shared their disappointment with Trump’s success, several asserting that the results in South Carolina will have negative implications for the Republican party.

“The pure viciousness we’re seeing in the Republican primaries is not emblematic of a party that can sway independents in the general [election], especially given the hateful rhetoric we’ve seen so casually leveled at immigrants and minorities time and time again,” Jara said. “For the sake of the party, I hope things change.”

Some students felt that Trump’s victory could mean increased support for Rubio, especially because Jeb Bush decided to drop out of the race on Sunday.

“There is no doubt that Republican voters will go towards Rubio since he is the last ‘establishment Republican’ running that can win the nomination,” Zhu said. “As more and more candidates drop out of the race, Rubio’s prospect of winning significantly increases while Trump’s prospect undeniably diminishes.”

However, William Bristow ’16 argued that Trump’s victory will help him win the conservative nomination.

“The results in South Carolina make Donald Trump the clear front runner for the Republican nomination,” he said.