President Donald Trump may be enjoying the optics and bilateral bonhomie on his maiden official visit to India, but he must be aware that back home, the clock is ticking on his first term in office. Indeed, Mr. Trumps Democratic rivals have trained their political guns on his record in office for some time now, making it quite likely that the November 2020 presidential poll will be preceded by a blistering campaign. While no single candidate stood out prominently from among the pack through the season of Democratic debates, some, such as Kamala Harris, dropped out and the herd was winnowed. Now, from among the stronger candidates, the primaries and caucuses have handed the edge to one of the Presidents most strident critics Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. The self-professed Democratic socialist has pulled away from the rest of the pack including former Vice-President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar after his win in the recent Nevada caucuses. Among those fighting for the nomination, Mr. Sanders perhaps stands the best chance of surviving a toe-to-toe battle with Mr. Trump, given that, like his Republican challenger, he stands somewhat askance of his partys mainstream ethos, for example showing the mettle to take on Wall Streets excesses rather than lean on them for fund-raising support. This trait goes well with the apparent anti-establishment voter mood; indeed it was this mood that Mr. Trump masterfully tapped into to win the 2016 election.
The challenge for Mr. Sanders, and which he appears to be gradually surmounting, after perhaps learning from his nomination loss to Hillary Clinton in 2016, is to deepen his popularity among minorities: African-Americans, Latinos and other ethnicities. Nevada differs from the two States, Iowa and New Hampshire, that went into caucuses and primaries, respectively, before it, in that it is considerably more racially diverse, with a 35% non-white population. The timing could not have been better for Mr. Sanders too. In less than a week, 15 States and territories will vote for their preferred candidate on a single day, Super Tuesday, including large, racially diverse States such as California. If he performs well, cornering a bulk of the 1,357 delegates up for grabs, it may well become impossible for any of the other Democratic hopefuls to even the score later on. The big question is, will he then succeed in carrying independent and undecided voters along with him in the presidential election, and can he move swing States in his favour? If he is to stand a chance of doing that, many think he may need to consider moderating what Mr. Buttigieg described as a dogmatic belief in an inflexible, ideological revolution that leaves out most Democrats, not to mention most Americans. To reach out to the wider voter base without losing his core support is the challenge before Mr. Sanders.