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Bernie Sanders Takes Kansas Caucus From Hillary Clinton

The Huffington Post logo The Huffington Post 6/03/2016 Ryan Grim

OVERLAND PARK, Kansas -- Democrats in Kansas delivered their state Saturday for the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders, just days after a similar showing in neighboring Oklahoma.

As the campaign came to a close, Hillary Clinton's camp began acknowledging her likely defeat in an effort to manage expectations. "[A]lthough we continue to fight for every vote, Sen. Sanders has clear advantages and is investing heavily in two upcoming caucuses," warned Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook, referring to Kansas and Nebraska.

Kansas holds symbolic -- if not general election -- importance for Democrats. The iconic book What's The Matter With Kansas? has been a guiding star for Democrats who believe that white, working-class voters are voting against their own interests by siding with Republicans.

The state's radical past also stirs the imaginations of liberals, who think back to its leading role in the militant abolitionist movement, its populist streak and even its flirtations with socialism. Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont, bills himself as a democratic socialist.

But a broader trend also contributed to Sanders' victory: Much like in Oklahoma, the Democratic base in the state has dramatically shrunk in size, with older Democrats becoming independents or Republicans. The remainder is more liberal and more open to Sanders' message of radical change than Clinton's defensive incrementalism. The state is also heavily white, a demographic in which Sanders outperforms Clinton. The same trends gave Sanders an advantage in Nebraska and Clinton the edge in Louisiana on Saturday.

Clinton's campaign had been organized in the state since April, and Clinton had the backing of former Kansas governor and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who chose to endorse President Barack Obama ahead of the state's 2008 caucus. Sanders, meanwhile, relied on a "self organizing" campaign.

Despite Sanders' strong showing Saturday, the near future looks bright for Clinton. On March 15, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio, where Clinton has an edge, will be holding primaries. It will take something of a political miracle for the Sanders revolution to catch up to Clinton in the delegate count.

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