Bernie Sanders strives to sell his message to Latino voters in Nevada – Los Angeles Times

Hillary Rodham Clinton was mobbed by fans when she spoke this week before a big crowd of Latino government officials from across the country. When another Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, took the same stage here Friday, the room was about half-empty.

“I haven’t heard of him, to be honest,” said Luciana Corrales, a school board member from San Ysidro, Calif. And anyway, she added, “I’m a Hillary supporter.”

Talk of a Sanders surge has enlivened the campaign in recent weeks, as bigger-than-expected crowds turned out for his fiery speeches about taking on the “billionaire class” amid promising polling in the early-primary state of New Hampshire. But the enthusiasm gap on display at the nation’s largest gathering of Latino policymakers highlights the reality of the major demographic challenges Sanders faces as he wages his long-shot bid for the presidency.

“His name recognition in the Latino community is somewhere in between zero and extremely low,” said Matt Barreto, a pollster who focuses on Latino voters. “And you’re not going to win an election without Latino support.”

Nonwhite voters make up a third or more of the turnout in Democratic primaries in most states, according to exit polls. Sanders, who represents a state that is 94% white, has little experience campaigning for minority votes. That will pose a challenge as he travels to more-diverse early-voting states like Nevada, home to a large Latino population, and South Carolina, where African Americans make up roughly half of Democratic primary voters.

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