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The big question for Bernie Sanders: Can he win support from minorities and women?

Bernie Sanders holds rally in Brooklyn

Bernie Sanders came up short in his 2016 bid for the Democratic nomination, but his robust support and enthusiasm surrounding his candidacy surprised many. Will he be able to regain that momentum and build on that support this time around?

Sanders faces a far different political landscape in 2020 than he did in 2016 -- it's a more competitive field that may exceed a dozen candidates, a far cry from 2016, when his only other competitors for the Democratic nomination were Hillary Clinton and Martin O'Malley.

Here's a look at which types of Democratic primary voters went strong for Sanders in 2016 and who he might need to make inroads with in 2020.

Some of Sanders' biggest supporters in 2016 were young voters. Voters under age 30 overwhelmingly backed him over Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries. In states were exit polls were conducted, Sanders beat Clinton among young voters in all of them except two – Alabama and Mississippi. This was largely due to the significant number of African American voters in those states, a group Clinton excelled with (more on this later).

This year, there are fresher faces seeking the Democratic nomination. Might young people gravitate toward a newcomer like contender Beto O'Rourke? O'Rourke came up short in his run for Senate in Texas, but he won 71 percent of voters under age 30. His share of the youth vote was 16 points higher than Hillary Clinton got in Texas in 2016. The field also includes other newer and younger contenders that may appeal to young voters.

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Sen. Senders identifies as an independent and he performed well with independent voters in the 2016 Democratic primaries, winning them by a margin of nearly two-to-one over Clinton. High turnout among independents was an important factor in states that Sanders won. Sanders didn't win any primaries where independents made up less than 22 percent of the electorate, according to exit polls.

In 2016, Sanders also appealed to white voters without a college degree who voted in Democratic primaries and caucuses, winning 53 percent of these voters based on exit polls.  More of these voters were looking for a candidate who cared about their needs and problems rather than one with the right experience, which helped boost Sanders. Whites with a college degree prioritized experience over empathy. There is another potential candidate who may appeal to this group of voters --- former Vice President Joe Biden -- who has yet to enter the race. Biden could be seen has having both the experience and empathy that some Democratic primary voters may be looking for.

The senator from Vermont had less traction with some other key voter groups and one of those was women. Fifty-eight percent of Democratic primary voters in 2016 were women, a larger share of the electorate than in a general election. Sanders won the support of just about 37 percent of women, according to exit polls. He won the women's vote in just four states where exit polls were conducted and one of those was his home state of Vermont. Sanders did do well with women voters under age 30, however.

Sanders did not have a lot of success with African-American voters. He won less than a quarter of their support in the 2016 primaries, losing the black vote to Hillary Clinton in every state where exit polls were conducted. Most of Sanders' victories were in states where blacks made up a relatively smaller percentage of the electorate.

Women and black voters are key constituencies of the electorate. The 2018 elections put a record number of women in Congress and the body is the most racially and ethnically diverse ever. Some Democratic primary voters may be looking to continue that trend and nominate a different kind of candidate. The 2020 field includes a number of women and at least two African American contenders.

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While Sanders enjoyed strong backing from independents in the 2016 primaries, he had less support among the party faithful – self-identified Democrats - who made up three-quarters of the Democratic primary electorate.  Clinton beat Sanders by roughly 30 points among this group. Democrats voting in the 2016 primaries were older (as were Clinton's supporters) than the independents who did. Democrats valued experience in their candidate most (a plus for Clinton), while independents said honesty was most important (a plus for Sanders).

Even though Sanders ran to the left of Clinton, he did not dominate among the liberal faction of Democratic primary voters. He only narrowly beat Clinton among those who called themselves "very liberal", suggesting that the race was not just about ideological differences but also anti-Clinton sentiment among Sanders supporters. During the 2016 primary season, CBS News national polls found that while most Clinton voters had a favorable view of Sanders, his backers had a net negative view of Clinton. According to exit polls in 11 states where the question was asked, seven in 10 Sanders voters did not think Clinton was honest and trustworthy.

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While Sanders enjoyed strong backing from independents in the 2016 primaries, he had less support among the party faithful – self-identified Democrats - who made up three-quarters of the Democratic primary electorate.  Clinton beat Sanders by roughly 30 points among this group. Democrats voting in the 2016 primaries were older (as were Clinton's supporters) than the independents who did. Democrats valued experience in their candidate most (a plus for Clinton), while independents said honesty was most important (a plus for Sanders).

This time around, Sanders won't be running against Hillary Clinton or one "establishment" candidate but in a more crowded and diverse field.

With Sanders' key campaign issues like "Medicare for all" and income inequality now being embraced by many Democratic voters and presidential candidates, will Sanders be able to attract more voters or will voters turn to a newer face of the "revolution"?

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