This weekend Bernie Sanders won a landslide victory in the Nevada caucuses.
"He's winning the popular votes in these early contests. He's coming away with a number of delegates from each of these encounters so the momentum to the extent that which we can talk about such a big thing seems to be behind Bernie," Jacob Neiheisel, University at Buffalo political science associate professor, said.
WNY for Bernie said Sanders has momentum in Erie County too. Four years ago, eventual nominee Hillary Clinton significantly outraised him in the county but this cycle Sanders has more individual donors and more money from the region than any of his primary opponents.
"He was able to build on the organization he built here in Erie County and I expect that is more where the Democratic Party has moved in the last couple of years and so it's not terribly surprising he would have this groundswell of support, even here in Erie County," Neiheisel said.
The numbers seem to jive with Monday's Siena poll, which shows the largest percent of Democrats saying they'd cast their vote for Sanders in a primary. The candidate's lead is even more significant among Upstate Democrats, but Neiheisel said he takes poll results and contribution numbers with a grain of salt.
"Donations suggest that there is some excitement surrounding the candidacy and I'm generally cautious about reading a ton into those kinds of figures. People who are supporting the candidate want to throw some money behind it. I don't know that that's a measure of viability going forward or just a matter of how much he's exciting the base at this current juncture," Neiheisel said.
Regardless, he said Sanders has clearly emerged as the early favorite for the nomination. Neiheisel said the surprising part is not that Bernie is strong but how hard it's been for the rest of the field to play catch-up.
"I think where I maybe went wrong with my early predictions such as they were about the race was how complete that consolidation would have been," he said. "I expected someone like Biden certainly to lay more of a challenge, even in those early contests and he's just been a non-event, a non-player.”