One day the president drops by, two days later it's the leading Democratic candidate for the White House. Could it be that winning Bakersfield is suddenly key to becoming leader of the free world?

Not yet.

Political observers say Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and President Donald Trump are looking to Kern County for entirely different reasons: Sanders hopes to energize young Latinos and pick up every last delegate, they say, while Trump dropped by to help an important ally in a part of the state where he feels welcome.

Their dual visits this week — Trump drew a local crowd of 3,000 Wednesday and Sanders is expected to speak from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Spectrum Amphitheatre — have showered rare attention to a city not used to being in the political spotlight.

There is a sense that both stops are geared toward seizing overlooked political capital, especially for Sanders. Even so, the strategies involved appear to be more subtle than that.

In 2016's presidential election, Trump did better in Kern County than he did in California as a whole. But also, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, has proved himself a strong ally of the president, noted Ivy Cargile, assistant professor of political science at Cal State Bakersfield.

"We could see (Trump's visit) as a thank-you" from the president to McCarthy, said Cargile.

She added that "of course" Wednesday's political rally was intended to benefit the election prospects of former three-term Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, who narrowly lost reelection in 2018 to Rep. T.J. Cox, D-Fresno.

Even so, Trump's success with flying in to back candidates in need of support has been mixed, said Palmdale political consultant Paul Scott, owner of Long Shot Political Consulting.

"His effectiveness is kind of hit and miss, which I think emboldens the Democrats," Scott said.

Christian Grose, a political scientist at the University of Southern California, said Bakersfield is a natural destination for the president because the city's "a little bit more hospitable to Trump" than California is overall.

He pointed to new poll results from the USC Price-Schwarzenegger Institute, of which Grose is academic director, showing Trump's support statewide is about 30 percent. The president's support in the Central Valley is stronger, he said, but still less than 50 percent.

Sanders, on the other hand, is coming to Bakersfield partly because the city and the Central Valley generally have been overlooked by state and national political campaigns, said the California communications director for his presidential campaign, Anna Bahr.

Another reason is that the senator has focused on building support among young people of color, especially Latinos, as well as working people, she said.

There's some truth, she said, to the assertion that Sanders is trying to pick up political delegates outside more heavily populated areas like Los Angeles and San Francisco.

"If you only are visiting the big urban areas of the state … you are leaving delegates on the table," she said. But, she added, "more importantly, there are voters there who deserve to be engaged, energized and heard from."

Cargile said the Central Valley fits well with Sanders' focus on young people of color. She said one lesson learned from the 1960s and former President Barack Obama's campaigns was that if you mobilize communities that have traditionally been under-mobilized, "they will show up to the polls for you."

Scott, who characterized Bakersfield as a "toss-up area," politically speaking, said Sanders has done well to focus on registering voters in the area.

In January Sanders opened a Bakersfield office — one of 22 in the state, many of them in often-overlooked areas such as the Inland Empire. He also visited Delano in May of 2016, advocating support for farmworkers, improvements to drinking water quality and limiting exposure to pesticides.

Scott asserted that Sanders' focus on energizing young people and persuading them to vote could be effective.

"It's just going to be a matter of who can register voters and who can get those voters out on election day," he said.

Results of the USC Price-Schwarzenegger Institute poll, based on surveys Feb. 1-15 of 1,200 California likely voters, show that Sanders led all of Democratic candidates with 29.2 percent, followed by former Vice President Joe Biden with 21.4 percent and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren with 20.2 percent.

The poll found that, in the Central Valley, Sanders' enjoyed 30.7 percent support. Biden placed second with 23.2 percent and Warren took third with 21.2 percent.

John Cox can be reached at 661-395-7404. Follow him on Twitter: @TheThirdGraf.

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(15) comments

She Dee

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for BIDEN. But, if Bernie wins, I'll support him. Anyone is better than TRump.

Vico17

Wrong again mr.knownothing. 0 for 2 now. You really ought to do your research before posting. Who was pres when Crimea was stolen? Who was Sec. Of State when Putin donated $145,000,000 to the Clinton Foundation? Who sold 20% of the US supply of Uranium to Putin? This is the greatest country of Earth, but the only thing we can improve upon is to get rid of lying liberals who can't stand successful Americans. You know nothing about me or my family or the backstory of every hardworking American. You keep talking down to people as if you actually knew a bit about something. All you are doing is spreading disinformation knowing no one is buying what you're trying to sell.

Moardeeb

I will be there for Senator Sanders.

Today we found out the President (2 bit Dictator) is a Russian operative.

John Owen Brennan is a former American intelligence official who served as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from March 2013 to January 2017. 

Today, with the new revelations, he said on Twitter..

We are now in a full-blown national security crisis. By trying to prevent the flow of intelligence to Congress, Trump is abetting a Russian covert operation to keep him in office for Moscow’s interests, not America’s.

Boris25

You are an idiot!

Mrknowitall

Trump just announced: Let Them Eat Crumbs.

He was referring to the fact that 1 % of US controls in excess of 80% of the wealth. Trump stated that “The Crumbs” left over are literally what is wiped off the elite’s face and falls on the floor after they ‘feast’ on the big money.

Trump went on to say that any crumbs that fall are by accident and the little folks must spend their entire life ‘scurrying’ after crumbs. Incredible!

So—unless you make $500k each n every year... YOU dear reader are a Crumb-Snatcher! How’s it feel knowing that YOU and your Family are destined to eat crumbs your entire life? Oh. You thought you were making a very good living. NO. Wake up. THEY make a very good living. You get the crumbs. And guess what? You go out in droves “rallying” to have him keep those crumbs coming. Yummy. Mmmm-mmm. Man those crumbs sure do taste good. Sir... please, another helping of crumbs for my kids and their new family, please. Thank You OhGreat Smarter Ones! Lol. They chuckle at your expense, then live and dine as y’all can only dream to. And they get a particularly strong charge out of the fact that you love them crumbs and vote to keep crumbs on your plates! Ain’t THAT a hoot?

The BIG tax cut? Lol. The one that was going to grow jobs and loans to the masses? Umm yeah. 95% of that money the big biz was awarded went directly to Corporate Buy-Backs of their own stock! Lol. So much for trickle-down crumbs for you n your families.

So. Keep wearing those MAGA hats and by all means get up a lil earlier every day to gather those tasty lil crumbs you are dying to scramble for. It’s exactly what you deserve.

You see, THEIR money is different than YOURS lil coins n change. Theirs are crisp hundred dollar bills and stocks n bonds n gold n properties. Yours is grimy nickels n dimes with pocket lint stick to them. Enjoy!!

Vico17

You are describing the bread lines Democrats prefer. Poor thing.

Mrknowitall

No. I know it hurts. Don’t try to deflect. Just accept that you and yours are only entitled to crumbs.

The fact you did not know they were crumbs doesn’t change the fact that they are in fact crumbs.

Now that you know in your heart of hearts that you and your family have been left only crumbs... you will try to convince yourself to turn a blind eye—by resorting to the 1% magic weapon... hate of those they teach are LESS than you, a crumb-snatcher.

Lil brains attach readily o that escape hatch. The alternative is to either fight for a piece of the pie, or accept your and your family’s station in life as crumb-snatchers. Terrible plight, correct? Live it! Lol

Gene Pool Chlorinator

I think it's time to change meds Mrknownothingatall

Take action Now

MrKnowItAll ALL politicians are corrupt to one extent or another. I won’t say who but one of those Crats running for President has 3 houses. He must be serving some crumbs as well. The way to change things is to vote down ALL bond issues - City, County and State then go after them all on a Federal level. Look at California and the corruption involved on the HIGH SPEED RAIL project. Americans need to start getting mad and YELL at these politicians every time they open mouths and corner them on the garbage they keep spitting out. God help us if they get total gun control. This is why ,thru their wisdom of dealing with the King of England, our fore fathers wrote the. “ Right To Bare.Arms” in our Constitution.

Lamonster

If everything here were true, and that's a loooong stretch, all it would prove is that Putin is a fan of Trump. Meanwhile, you will "be there" for an unapologetic fan of the USSR.

byebyeCA

GO RUSSIANS GO

Gene Pool Chlorinator

Brennan is a LIAR, which explains why CNN continues to employ him.

EVERYTHING he claimed about Trump being a Russian operative turned out to be false- per your savior Robert Mueller's two year long investigation.

Box of Rocks > Dweeb

yourworstnightmare

How come TBC isn't giving us all the anti-Bernie protest sites like they did on Wednesday....??

Take action Now

What, You cant you see that California is a Socialist State, which is what Sanders promotes. Tax the working class and give to people that work the freebie class,

Gene Pool Chlorinator

That would be balanced reporting- can't have that here anymore...

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