If Hillary Clinton ends up losing California to Bernie Sanders, it will be because of voters like Nallely Perez.
Perez personifies what a Clinton supporter was supposed to look like: a 24-year-old Latina who grew up idolizing the former first lady as a groundbreaking woman in politics. But when she votes in California’s Democratic presidential nominating contest on Tuesday, Perez will be supporting Sanders.
“Everything that I would stand for, he has said it,” said Perez, a student at California State University, Long Beach, who said she likes Sanders’ promises of tuition-free college and universal healthcare. “We found our voice in him.”
California is the final huge contest in the long fight for the Democratic nomination.
A University of Southern California/Los Angeles Times poll released on Friday showed Sanders with a one-percentage-point lead over Clinton in the state, 44 to 43 percent, a swing from March when Clinton held a nine-point edge.
On the Republican side, Donald Trump has earned the nomination for the Nov. 8 election, and Clinton is close to capturing the number of delegates she needs to head the Democratic ticket. Her campaign expects that a win in New Jersey earlier on Tuesday will secure the nomination.
Clintons loss, if took place, would make Trump see her as a weak candidate, whereas a Sanders victory will not clear the way to his nomination unless it triggers a defection by scores of superdelegates – party office-holders and officials – from Clinton’s camp, an unlikely outcome.
Sanders has vowed to use California as a springboard to the party convention in Philadelphia in July.
Adding that Clinton has been careful to highlight Trump, not Sanders, in her criticism at California events, while talking up her national security experience. She will almost need the support of passionate Sanders’ backers to defeat the outspoken Trump in November.