Sanders Wins Nevada Caucuses 02/23 09:41
Bernie Sanders scored a commanding victory in Nevada's presidential
caucuses, cementing his status as the Democrats' national front-runner but
escalating tensions over whether he's too liberal to defeat President Donald
LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Bernie Sanders scored a commanding victory in Nevada's
presidential caucuses, cementing his status as the Democrats' national
front-runner but escalating tensions over whether he's too liberal to defeat
President Donald Trump.
Joe Biden was a distant second, followed by Pete Buttigieg in third and
Elizabeth Warren in fourth, with Amy Klobuchar and Tom Steyer in a close race
for fifth. They all are pledging to stay in the race as the primary moves on to
South Carolina this coming Saturday, with the Super Tuesday states voting on
Nevada's caucuses on Saturday were the first chance for White House hopefuls
to demonstrate appeal to a diverse group of voters in a state far more
representative of the country as a whole than Iowa and New Hampshire. Sanders,
a 78-year Vermont senator and self-described democratic socialist, won by
rallying his fiercely loyal base and tapping into support from Nevada's large
In a show of confidence, Sanders left Nevada on Saturday for Texas, which
offers one of the biggest delegate troves in just 10 days on Super Tuesday.
"We are bringing our people together," he declared. "In Nevada we have just
brought together a multigenerational, multiracial coalition which is not only
going to win in Nevada, it's going to sweep this country."
Saturday's win built on Sanders' victory earlier this month in the New
Hampshire primary. He essentially tied for first place in the Iowa caucuses
with Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who has sought to
position himself as an ideological counter to Sanders' unabashedly progressive
But for all the energy and attention devoted to the first three states, they
award only a tiny fraction of the delegates needed to capture the nomination.
After South Carolina, the contest becomes national in scope, putting a premium
on candidates who have the resources to compete in states as large as
California and Texas.
While Sanders' victory in Nevada encouraged his supporters, it only deepened
concern among establishment-minded Democratic leaders who fear he is too
extreme to defeat Trump. Sanders for decades has been calling for
transformative policies to address inequities in politics and the economy, none
bigger than his signature "Medicare for All" health care plan that would
replace the private insurance system with a government-run universal program.
Trump gloated on social media, continuing his weeks-long push to sow discord
between Sanders and his Democratic rivals.
"Looks like Crazy Bernie is doing well in the Great State of Nevada. Biden &
the rest look weak," Trump tweeted. "Congratulations Bernie, & don't let them
take it away from you!"
Buttigieg congratulated Sanders, too, but then launched an aggressive verbal
assault on the senator as too divisive.
"Before we rush to nominate Senator Sanders in our one shot to take on this
president, let's take a sober look at what is at stake for our party, for our
values and for those with so much to lose," he said. "Senator Sanders believes
in an inflexible, ideological revolution that leaves out most Democrats, not to
mention most Americans."
For Biden, a second place finish in Nevada could be the lifeline he needed
to convince skeptics he still has a path to the nomination as the primary moves
to more diverse states. He took aim at Sanders and billionaire Mike Bloomberg,
who wasn't on the Nevada ballot, but has emerged as a threat to Biden in
contests that begin next month.
"I ain't a socialist. I'm not a plutocrat. I'm a Democrat," Biden declared.
Warren, who desperately needed a spark to revive her stalled bid, ignored
Sanders and instead took a shot at Bloomberg's height as she thanked Nevada
"for keeping me in the fight."
Rallying supporters in Seattle, she said she wanted to talk about "a big
threat --- not a tall one, but a big one: Michael Bloomberg."
Also still in the fight: Billionaire Steyer, who spent more than $12 million
on Nevada television and Minnesota Sen. Klobuchar, who hoped to prove her
strong New Hampshire finish was no fluke.
Klobuchar, campaigning in her home state of Minnesota Saturday night,
claimed Nevada success no matter her poor showing.
"As usual I think we have exceeded expectations," she said.
The first presidential contest in the West tested the candidates' strength
with black and Latino voters for the first time in 2020. Nevada's population
aligns more with the U.S. as a whole, compared with Iowa and New Hampshire: 29%
Latino, 10% black and 9% Asian American and Pacific Islander.
Bloomberg, the former New York mayor who dominated the political
conversation this week after a poor debate-stage debut, wasn't on the ballot.
He's betting everything on a series of delegate-rich states that begin voting
The stakes were high for Nevada Democrats to avoid a repeat of the chaos in
the still-unresolved Iowa caucuses, and it appeared Saturday's contest was
Unlike state primaries and the November election, which are run by
government officials, caucuses are overseen by state parties.
Nevada Democrats sought to minimize problems by creating multiple
redundancies in their reporting system, relying on results called in by phone,
a paper worksheet filled out by caucus organizers, a photo of that worksheet
sent in by text message and electronic results captured with a Google form.
In addition, it appeared Nevada Democrats were able to successfully navigate
a complicated process for adding early voting to the caucus process. Nearly
75,000 people cast early ballots over a four-day period, and the party was able
to process those in time for Saturday so they could be integrated into the
At the Bellagio casino caucus site, 41-year-old Christian Nielsen, a scuba
diver for the Cirque du Soleil show "O," said he backed Sanders because he
believes the country needs a "major change in the White House."
"We need somebody in the White House who has been on the right side of
history for their entire career, somebody who stands with the working class,
and will make things more fair for everybody," Nielsen said.
The Democrats' 2020 nomination fight shifted beyond Nevada even before the
final results were known.
Only Biden, Buttigieg and Steyer were still in the state when news of
Sanders' victory was announced.
Sanders and Klobuchar spent the night in Super Tuesday states, and Buttigieg
was headed to a third, Virginia. Warren, who began Saturday in Las Vegas, was
to finish the day in Washington state, which hosts its election on March 10 but
has already begun offering early voting.