/Sen. Bernie Sanders holds double-digit lead in early Nevada caucus results – live updates

Sen. Bernie Sanders holds double-digit lead in early Nevada caucus results – live updates

Check back for updates  as results continue to come in from the Nevada caucuses.

LAS VEGAS – With early Nevada caucus results in, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has a double-digit lead over the nearest Democratic competitor.

Entrance polls from NBC reflected a potentially strong showing for Sanders, with him leading among white and non-white voters. Sanders also led among voters who described themselves as moderate or conservative.

Fox News called the race for Sanders early in the evening, though other news outlets, including USA TODAY, have not called the race yet.

– Nicholas Wu 

Results:Follow live results from the Nevada Democratic caucus

Sanders wins Nevada’s most valuable precinct

Sen. Bernie Sanders swept Nevada’s most valuable precinct, winning it by a large margin.

At the special caucus site set up at the Bellagio for Las Vegas casino workers, Sanders won 76 of the 121 votes. That will net him 32 of the 51 delegates up for grabs at this location.

Former Vice President Joe Biden came in second with 45 votes.

Meanwhile, Biden won the precinct across the street at Paris. Of the 32 delegates awarded at Paris, Biden won 14 to Sanders’ 7. Buttigieg and Steyer took 6 each.

Kaitlyn Hernandez, 23, of Reno walked into Hug High as the only undecided in her precinct group. After the first alignment, supporters of Sanders persuaded her to join their group.

“I was between Warren and Sanders, I was hoping Warren would be a viable group,” Hernandez said of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

For the second and final alignment, she joined the Sanders group after chatting with a group of Sanders supporters.

“What a lot of people miss is Sanders and Warren are very similar,” Hernandez said.

Erik Larson, 23, of Reno aligned with former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. When Buttigieg didn’t have enough supporters to achieve viability in the first alignment, Larson moved to uncommitted.

After the uncommitted group didn’t achieve viability at final alignment, sending all the precinct’s delegates to Sanders, Larson was disappointed with the process compared to a more straightforward primary vote.

“I would still prefer to get to vote for who I wanted to vote for,” said Larson. “If it was Burger King and I had it my way I would have walked up and put in a ballot for Pete.”

– Benjamin Spillman, Reno Gazette Journal

Sanders doesn’t mention Nevada lead at Texas rally 

Sen. Bernie Sanders highlighted the need for big change across the country at a packed rally in El Paso, Texas, as the Vermont senator held onto an early lead in Nevada, where caucus results were still being calculated.

But the one issue Sanders declined to mention in his nearly 30-minutes remarks? Nevada.

With 3.1% of precincts reporting, Sanders was holding a 54% lead over Biden, who had 17% of the vote.

The current front-runner in the race appeared to pass one of the biggest tests in his White House bid as, unlike the first two contests in Iowa and New Hampshire, Nevada is a majority minority state.  

When he took the stage in El Paso, Sanders made it a point to tout the “diversity and beauty in this audience.” Much of Sanders’ speech revolved around the core issues that have come to define his campaign. He highlighted the need to pass Medicare for All, fix income inequality and establish a Green New Deal, a progressive measure that seeks to tackle climate change.

But before touching those issues, Sanders pointed to the one topic that has united the Democratic field: ousting President Donald Trump from the White House.

“Donald Trump embarrasses us every single day,” Sanders said from the stage as supporters cheered.

– Christal Hayes

DNC chair: Nevada will go smoothly after Iowa problems

The chairman of the Democratic National Committee told reporters at the Bellagio hotel and casino he expects the Nevada caucuses to go smoothly after issues in the first-in-the-nation contest in Iowa.

Tom Perez had been in hot water after the chaos in Iowa that delayed the results from the Feb. 3 caucus. While speaking with reporters, he reiterated that the party would try to release results as soon as possible but it was possible the results may not be released Saturday. Perez said it was more important to “get it right,” according to the Associated Press.

Casino workers hold up presidential preference cards as they support Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., during a presidential caucus at the Bellagio hotel-casino on Saturday.

“Our goal today is to make sure that this day is about the candidates, not about the process,” Perez said earlier in the day on MSNBC.

He said the race still had a long way to go. We’re at “mile one or two of the marathon,” he said, noting there are a lot more delegates to go. “1,991 is the magic number,” he added, referring to the number of delegates needed to win the nomination. 

– Christal Hayes

Early NBC entrance poll good news for Bernie Sanders

Early entrance poll results in the Nevada Democratic caucuses are good news for Bernie Sanders.

Entrance poll results from NBC show Sanders trouncing the field among white and Hispanic voters and holding his own among black voters.

Sanders was also running neck-and-neck with Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg among voters who described themselves as moderate or conservative.

“These entrance polls look very good for Bernie,” tweeted John Ralston, the state’s preeminent political reporter.

NBC’s entrance poll is based on 2,122 interviews, most from Nevadans who voted before today’s caucuses. The results could change as more entrance data from today’s voting is factored in.

About 75,000 Nevadans submitted their presidential preferences early, the first time they were allowed to do so. That’s nearly the total of the 84,000 who caucused in 2016.

Nevada, the third state to vote, is the first with a significant minority population.

About three in 10 Nevadans are Latinos, 10% of the population is black, and 10% is Asian American and Pacific Islander.

Sanders lost the 2016 Nevada caucuses to Hillary Clinton by just 5 points and was the favorite going into today’s voting. Most of the speculation centered on who would come in second.

– Maureen Groppe 

Bloomberg sends a warning

As early entrance polls indicated Sen. Bernie Sanders would have a good night in Nevada, the candidate who is not on the ballot there sent a warning.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who will not be on a ballot until Super Tuesday, retweeted Sanders’ boasts from Friday.

“I’ve got news from the Republican establishment. I’ve got news for the Democratic establishment,” Sanders said. “They can’t stop us.”

Bloomberg’s response? “Does the Senator understand that this divisive behavior is what’s going to re-elect Donald Trump?” he tweeted.

Concerns are growing about more moderate Democrats, and even some Republicans opposed to Trump, that Sanders could run away with the nomination.

In a memo posted Saturday by Axios, two of the co-founders of the center-left think tank Third Way, urged the rest of the field to stand up to Sanders at next Tuesday’s debate. Otherwise, Jon Cowan and Michael Bennett write, they could doom the party – and the nation – to Trump and sweeping down-ballot GOP victories in November.

“Bernie Sanders is a socialist, and the political toxicity of his self-selected brand cannot be overstated,” they write.

A recently formed, center-right group that opposes Trump encouraged independents and disaffected Republicans in Nevada to vote in the Democratic caucuses Saturday to try to keep Sanders from getting the nomination.

“Extremists have taken over the Republican Party,” the group said in one of their ads in Nevada. “Don’t let the same thing happen to the Democrats.”

– Maureen Groppe

Caucusing begins: Can Sanders hold his frontrunner status?

Nevada voters began caucusing at 3 p.m. ET as the first-in-the-West contest marks a critical test for Democratic presidential candidates ahead of South Carolina and Super Tuesday elections.

The question will be whether Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., can hold his frontrunner status after winning New Hampshire and placing in the top two in Iowa, where results are still being reviewed. Sanders also led in recent national polling.

Warren campaign says it doubled fundraising goal before Nevada

The presidential campaign of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said Saturday it had doubled its fundraising goal going into today’s caucuses, boosting the campaign’s resources ahead of the South Carolina primary and the flurry of contests on Super Tuesday. 

The Warren campaign set a goal on Jan. 12 of raising $7 million before the caucuses began, and according to the campaign, they raised more than $14 million by today.

The cash injection is likely a welcome sign for Warren’s campaign, which had reported  $2.3 million cash on hand going into February, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission earlier this week. By contrast, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., had $16.9 million cash on hand, and former Vice President Joe Biden had $7.1 million cash on hand. 

Candidates will need more resources to invest in advertising and staffing as they gear up for the Super Tuesday contests, when roughly a third of all delegates for the Democratic National Convention will be decided. 

Ad-tracking firm Advertising Analytics says Warren has spent a little more than $406,000 on radio and TV ads in Super Tuesday states so far, whereas former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has spent over $158 million. 

– Nicholas Wu 

How to break a caucus tie? Deck of cards

Precinct captains in Nevada have been provided with a unique piece of equipment to break ties – a deck of cards.

According to the Nevada Democratic Party, if two caucus groups are tied, each group will “draw a single card from a deck of cards to break the tie.”

The high card decides the winner, with aces high. Every deck has to be shuffled at least seven times before cards are drawn from it, with all jokers or direction cards removed from the deck.

The Nevada caucuses have been using decks of cards to break ties since 2008, the party says.

The Iowa caucuses uses a coin toss to break ties. 

– Nicholas Wu 

Sanders goes after Bloomberg in pre-caucuses rally

Sen. Bernie Sanders used his last rally before the Nevada caucuses to make a case for nominating a candidate who can not only beat President Donald Trump but enact a slate of progressive priorities.

“What we’re trying to do is not just defeat Trump but transform our economy and the way our government does business,” he told a crowd of about 2,000 people gathered Friday night outside at Springs Preserve, a botanical garden in Las Vegas.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., campaigns in Las Vegas on Friday.

As Nevadans head to caucus, Sanders sought throughout the night to draw a distinction between himself and other candidates to his right – particularly former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is not competing in Nevada but has jumped into the race elsewhere in recent months with a substantial personal fortune to finance his campaign.

“I do not believe in oligarchy, where billionaires are buying elections. The last couple weeks, Donald Trump has been out there with his billionaire friends, gets $150,000 a person for the Republican Party. We got Michael Bloomberg worth $60 billion,” Sanders said, the crowd booing the mention of both Bloomberg and Trump. “Bloomberg has every right in the world to run for president. He has no right to buy the presidency.”

– Andrew Oxford, Arizona Republic

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Klobuchar’s final pitch to Nevadans

Sen. Amy Klobuchar made her last pitch to Nevadans ahead of caucuses on Saturday by highlighting trade, prescription drug prices and guns – an issue close to Las Vegas, a city scarred by a mass shooting at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in 2017.

The senator from Minnesota, with an unapologetically Midwestern style, is pitching herself as less radical than the frontrunner here, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. 

“If you are tired of the extremes in our politics and the noise and the nonsense, you have a home with me,” she told supporters.

That message is about to face a big test Saturday. Klobuchar has been running behind in Nevada polls and a poor showing here is bound to raise questions about how she will fare in big states out West.

– Andrew Oxford, Arizona Republic

Nevada’s impact on 2020

Nevada will send only 48 delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

But the outcome of the party’s caucuses here Saturday could be a far better indicator than Iowa or New Hampshire of which candidates are favored by Democratic voters in much bigger states out West.

“It might provide something of a preview of California and Texas on Super Tuesday and, by extension, Arizona,” said Kyle Kondik, managing editor at the newsletter Sabato’s Crystal Ball.

Nevada, after all, more closely reflects the demographics of the West today. It is the first state in the nominating contest where most of the population is not white. It is a “majority minority” state where sizable portions of the population are Latino, Asian and Black. And Las Vegas is the first major city to participate in the presidential nominating contest this year, bringing a large group of urban voters into the process for the first time this cycle.

Moreover, Democrats’ fortunes in presidential elections could rely more in the coming years on states like Nevada if it loses parts of the East and Midwest, such as Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

“There may be a time in the future when Democrats have to win Nevada, Colorado and Arizona to win presidential elections,” Kondik said.

So, keep an eye on the battlegrounds within these battlegrounds.

In Nevada, that would be Henderson and the beltway around Las Vegas, said David Damore, chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Bellagio hotel workers check in before caucusing at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Saturday.

Republicans have lost ground in suburbs like these during recent years, not just in Las Vegas but in Phoenix and Houston, too, said Damore. These same neighborhoods could play a decisive role in November. It will be worth watching how closely results from those areas on Saturday align with the rest of the state, Damore added.

Damore suggested that a stronger showing for former Vice President Joe Biden or Sen. Amy Klobuchar in such areas might suggest that voters there are wary of nominating a more left-wing candidate.

– Andrew Oxford, Arizona Republic

Nevada’s Latino voters

One of the key arguments for moving up Nevada in the schedule of primaries and caucuses was that it would give more weight to the voices of Latino voters.

But has it worked?

After all, the frontrunners are all white and most come from the Northeast.

“Iowa and New Hampshire unfortunately still dominate so much of the conversation throughout the year leading up to the election, the first caucus, and obviously for a few weeks after that,” said U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, who was campaigning for Sen. Elizabeth Warren at a forum on immigration last week.

But, he added, moving up Nevada in the schedule of nominating contests has prompted candidates to engage with Latino voters here.

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“The Latino community here in Nevada, in Las Vegas, is more engaged than a lot of other places where you have similar communities because the candidates are reaching out to them. The campaigns are knocking on their doors, sending them mailers, calling their cell phones. And that makes a difference,” said Castro, whose twin brother Julian ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic Party’s nomination and is now backing Warren, too.

Nevada is proof, the congressman argued, that campaigns can turn out Latino voters — if they try.

– Andrew Oxford, Arizona Republic

FILE - In this Feb. 15, 2020, file photo, a woman votes at an early voting location at the culinary workers union hall  in Las Vegas. Nevada Democrats are hoping to avoid a repeat of the chaos that ensnared the Iowa caucuses, as voters gather across the Silver State on Saturday to make their presidential preferences known.  (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

What’s at stake in the Nevada Democratic caucuses 

WASHINGTON – After caucus chaos in Iowa earlier this month, Nevada’s first-in-the-West contest marks a critical test for candidates and the party alike.

Nevada’s caucuses, which begin at 3 p.m. ET, also are the first opportunity to see how Democratic presidential candidates fare with a more diverse electorate, after contests in Iowa and New Hampshire, predominately white states. 

Saturday will test whether Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders can hold his frontrunner status, after winning New Hampshire and placing in the top two in Iowa. Sanders also led in recent national polling.

Former mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who have both polled low with Black and Latino voters, face a bigger test in Nevada. Their momentum from New Hampshire, where Buttigieg came in a close second and Klobuchar in a surprising third, could be challenged by Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s strong debate performance.

Like Klobuchar in New Hampshire, Warren will hope to see a last minute surge among Nevadans. Warren’s pressure on former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg dominated headlines, and her campaign has raised more than $5 million since.

Some candidates, such as former Vice President Joe Biden and billionaire Tom Steyer, are banking on strong nights due to the diverse population of voters. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 30% of Nevadans are Latino. In addition, 10% of Nevadans are African American and nearly 9% are Asian.

Biden, who placed fourth in Iowa and fifth in New Hampshire, has repeatedly argued over the past several weeks that he will find his stride in the states with more diverse electorates. Steyer has made similar comments.

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But the other big test of the day will be on the party. There is still not a declared winner in the Iowa caucuses after an app failure, a bogged down back-up phone line and statistical inaccuracies threw the process into disarray. Nevada Democrats have enacted several changes they hope will keep them clear of the issues Iowa Democrats faced. 

The results of the Nevada caucuses could continued to push forward several candidates going into South Carolina’s primary on Feb. 29, as well as on to Super Tuesday.