Bernie Sanders Is The Winner Of The 2020 Nevada Democratic Caucuses

LAS VEGAS ― Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is the projected winner of Nevada’s Democratic caucuses, NBC News reported Saturday evening.

The third state to vote in the Democratic primary, Nevada cements Sanders’ lead in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, awarding him more national delegates for the party convention than anyone else in the field.

Nevada is the most diverse state yet to weigh into the primary, and has delivered the clearest victory of the primary cycle to date. Iowa is still grappling with recounts, and despite narrowly winning the New Hampshire primary, Sanders went into the Nevada contest behind former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg in the delegate count.

But on Saturday, Sanders confirmed what polling has suggested for months. Not only did the senator have a double-digit lead in state polls going into the caucuses, he has long had a strong base of support among Latino voters, especially those in the working class. Latinos make up roughly 30% of the population in Nevada and made up around 19% of Democratic voters in the 2016 election cycle.

Since Sanders jumped into the race, he has polled more favorably with Latino voters than the rest of the Democratic presidential field — and it’s a base his campaign has specifically organized around with the slogan “Unidos con Bernie.”

Two prominent Latino immigrant rights groups, Mijente and Make the Road Action, endorsed Sanders and helped organize on the ground in Nevada. His campaign held a Spanish language town hall, with the help of surrogate and progressive icon Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in the state, and organized a soccer tournament at a Las Vegas high school to mobilize Latino voters.

Last week, Sanders faced a potential setback in Nevada when the Culinary Workers Union, one of the more powerful unions in the state, criticized his “Medicare for All” proposal.

The union posted flyers in hotel and casino employee areas, warning that Sanders’ plans for health care could strip the union of its own health care program, according to The Nevada Independent. The union ultimately did not endorse any candidate for president, though it mentioned its strong ties to former Vice President Joe Biden. (Biden benefited from the formal support of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which also operates its own multi-employer health insurance plan and trotted out its members to speak out against Medicare for All in a digital video.)

But on caucus day, Sanders showed that the political positions of the union’s leaders didn’t necessarily match those of its members. 

And Sanders benefited from an organized labor movement in Nevada that, as in much of the rest of the country, is fiercely divided when it comes to Sanders’ signature policy of Medicare for All. The state’s largest teachers union, the Clark County Education Association, endorsed Sanders in part because the union has struggled to protect its health care benefits and is less wary of a transition to a single government plan. Nevada’s SEIU Local 1107, which unlike CCEA did not endorse in the race, also condemned the Culinary Union’s critical treatment of Medicare for All, arguing that pitting union health care plans against Medicare for All created a “false choice.”

Nevada is also shaping up to be somewhat of a comeback for Biden. After disappointing showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, where he came in fourth and fifth respectively, Biden said his strength would show through when communities of color began casting their votes. 

Biden, who drew criticism for leaving New Hampshire well before results came in, held a caucus day celebration in Nevada after voting, unlike Sanders, who spent the day campaigning in Texas — a Super Tuesday state.

Biden took the opportunity to celebrate a rebound performance, even though it was still unclear how he would place. “Y’all did it for me!” he told a crowd of supporters at an IBEW union hall in Las Vegas. Someone shouted back: “The comeback kid!”

“We’re in a position now to move on in a way that we haven’t been until this moment,” Biden said.

Biden now heads to South Carolina, where he has been polling ahead of the field — although Sanders has been closing the gap in South Carolina as well.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) stepped into the spotlight during the Democratic debate in Las Vegas earlier this week, grilling her opponents and demonstrating she’s still got her fighting spirit. She trained an especially fiery line of questioning on former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has decided not to compete in the first four states of the Democratic primary. She heads to South Carolina without any clear victories to her name.

The Nevada caucuses went notably more smoothly than the first caucus-style contest of the cycle. Iowa’s Democratic Party is recounting votes from 10 precincts in the state after the apparent leaders in that race, Sanders and Buttigieg, both requested limited recounts.

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