Bernie Sanders Wins Nevada Caucus
With 27 percent of precincts reporting, Senator Bernie Sanders has been declared the winner of the Nevada caucus. The Senator from Vermont swept 47 percent of the vote according to early reporting, leaving his competitors over 20 points behind. The win stands in contrast to the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire, where margins were much slimmer. The win positions Sanders as the clear frontrunner for the 2020 Democratic Nomination.
Sanders performed particularly well among Latino voters, the largest minority voting bloc in 2020. According to Pew Research, Latino voters will account for 13.3 percent of the electorate in 2020. Black voters are the next largest bloc, at 12.5 percent. Sanders spent about $407,000 in Spanish-language ads in Nevada, less than Styer’s $1.1 million, and Buttigieg’s $490,000, according to The New York Times.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the initial 2020 frontrunner, improved his ranking with a second-place showing. Biden, who performs best with black voters, underperformed in Iowa and New Hampshire, states that are overwhelmingly white. After his second-place win in Nevada, a much more diverse state, he seems to have re-established himself as a viable moderate alternative to Sanders’ progressive agenda.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, who had her best night this campaign during the Nevada debate earlier this week, came in fourth. Many Nevadans were able to caucus early this year, though, before the debate even occurred. The impact of her debate performance may not be felt until South Carolina. Mayor Pete Buttigieg came in third place, Tom Styer places fifth, and Senator Amy Klobuchar placed sixth.
All of the candidates were hoping to gain momentum leading into the South Carolina primary next week, and then into Super Tuesday on March 3rd. Bernie now leads the delegate count, overtaking Mayor Pete.
How The Nevada Caucus Works
The Nevada Democratic Party instigated a variety of reforms this year aimed at increasing access to the complicated caucusing process and ensuring delivery of results. The NDP originally planned to use the same app the Iowa caucus used. After the Iowa Democratic Party failed to deliver results, the NDP quickly scrapped that plan.
Instead, the NDP relied on a series of redundancies to ensure vote counts were reported correctly. Caucus organizers completed a worksheet by hand and were able able to submit results both via phone or text and via a Google Form. The process seems to have run smoothly, even amid growing calls to abolish caucuses entirely.
The NDP aimed to address concerns about voter accessibility by allowing voters to caucus early this year. From February 15th to 18th, Nevada Democrats were able to cast paper ballots listing their first, second, and third choices—a process that resembled a standard primary. Those ballots were then sent to the appropriate districts, and included in caucus totals. About 70,000 people participated in the new early caucus process, about half of whom appear to be first-time voters. In 2016, the total caucus turnout was 84,000. It’s yet unclear what the final caucus turnout has been this year. However, the New York Times reports that turnout may break the 2008 record. This is a good sign for Democrats who need high turnout in 2020.
Sanders Addresses Supporters from San Antonio
The Senator took the stage in San Antonio Saturday night to address supporters after he was declared the winner. Sanders moved on to Texas after Nevada Caucus win, a major Super Tuesday state responsible for 149 district delegates.
Addressing supporters, Sanders stated, “We have just put together a multi-generational, multiracial coalition, which is going to not only win in Nevada, it is going to sweep this country.”
“No one has a grassroots campaign like we do,” he said, “which is another reason why we’re going to win this election.”
He quickly thanked union members who supported him, even admin strong pushback from the powerful Culinary Union in Nevada. The Culinary Union had been attacking Sanders over his Medicare for All plan. According to reporting in the New York Times, the union may have even been misrepresenting the details of the caucus to voters to discourage them from voting for Bernie.
It’s yet unclear who Sander’s biggest rival in from the moderate wing of the party will be. While Buttigieg performed well in the first two states, Biden is performing better in more diverse communities. Meanwhile, Michael Bloomberg, who skipped the first four states altogether, looms ahead in Super Tuesday states.