Providence, RI – Democratic Presidential candidate U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders isn’t going anywhere but forward, said Tad Devine, Senior Advisor and campaign strategist for campaign at a rally in Providence, Rhode Island on Sunday.
Sanders drew a crowd of more than 7,000 supporters at a rally in the smallest state in the nation. Voters from across the state traveled to the capital city to hear the Senator from Vermont.
In an interview, at the Temple to Music, an esplanade set in the state’s historic Roger Williams park, Devine spoke of the obstacles the campaign has had to overcome in recent primaries, including last week’s New York State Primary, where it was discovered that 126,000 voters were purged from the voter rolls in Brooklyn, alone.
When elections mismanagement, voter purging and the number of states that still maintain closed polls are combined; when only those registered as party Democrats or party Republicans are allowed to cast a ballot, candidates like Sen. Sanders, the longest running Independent sitting in Congress, lose a significant portion of their voter base.
“One of the biggest and central themes of this campaign has been how to bring people into the process, said Devine. “We have tried to speak out and stand up against any efforts to keep people out. Unfortunately, the laws in many states have restrictions that are keeping people from voting and participating in the process.”
“That’s a big mistake for the Democratic party. We’re much stronger when we bring people in,” Devine said.
Facing off against or discounting a surging voter base simply isn’t good strategy, according to the Washington powerhouse and Democratic consultant who has amassed both national and international campaign accolades.
Devine estimated that Sanders contribution to voter participation in the 2016 electoral process, before it comes to conclusion, will be millions.
Sanders polling data has shown, over the course of the campaign, overwhelming support from younger voters, or Millennials. Also, in Sanders voter base is the Independent vote.
In Rhode Island, Devine’s native home, state election law allows Independent or unaffiliated registered voters to choose which party ballot they want to vote on primary day and then unaffiliate after voting if they so choose. The Rhode Island primary is considered a “mixed” primary, because the unaffiliated voter doesn’t have to register as a partisan voter prior to primary day.
While Rhode Island was preparing for its primary on Tuesday and Sanders surrogates were warming up crowds of thousands at GOTV rallies on the East Coast, Devine’s candidate was surging in the California polls.
A Fox News poll released over the weekend showed Clinton only 2 points ahead of Sanders in the state. And the results of a Field Poll, released on Friday, revealed Clinton with a 6 point lead over Sanders in California. That number represented a 6-point surge by the Vermont senator and cut Clinton’s former double-digit lead in half.
“I’ve always thought that California was going to be one of our best states. “We saw that in the early field poll when back last year, in the first one he was about 3.5 percent with Latino voters and then, in the most recent one had gone to 35 percent,” Devine said.
According to the poll, in California, where registered non-partisan voters are eligible to vote, turnout plays a critical role in the Democratic race.
Clinton is polling higher among Democrats and Sanders higher among unaffiliated voters in near parallel proportions. Field analysis said that relatively modest changes in the relative sizes of these voting blocs would have a big impact on each candidate’s overall standing statewide.
“I think we have the potential in California to win the Latino vote, to win the white vote, to compete and hopefully win the African-American vote and to win the Asian-American vote – to win across the board – the state, which in the spectrum of America, is the biggest state. I’m optimistic that Bernie’s message is going to play well in California.” – Tad Devine, Campaign Strategist
The campaign is planning to “barnstorm” the state,” Devine said. “There are 12 very large cities in California. We are going to visit all of them. Bernie is going to take his message to the people and I think is going to get them very excited.”
Sanders, in an interview with WPRI TV 12 Reporter Ted Nesi, responding to comments made by economist Paul Krugman in the New York Times had this to say about the continued campaign momentum and its staying power.
“I think Mr. Krugman might want to tell the people of California that – they kind of think that maybe the largest state in this country should have the right to determine who the candidate for president will be and what the agenda of the Democratic Party will be,” Sanders said. “We’re in this fight till the last vote is cast.”
When asked to predict Rhode Island’s outcome, with the entire Democratic Congressional Delegation in the Clinton camp, Devine said he was hopeful that the Ocean State would turn out the vote for Senator Sanders.
“Rhode Island’s process allows for the Independent vote,” Devine said. “That is a positive for Bernie.”
Sanders traveled to New Haven, Connecticut after his Rhode Island visit. He drew 14,000 supporters at his New Haven rally. He is expected to visit Hartford on Monday.
Rhode Island is joined on Tuesday, April 26 by its East Coast neighbors Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania in a five-state primary day.
This article first appeared on Examiner.com on April 25, 2016.