Check back for updates as results continue to come in from the Nevada caucuses.
A smiling Sen. Bernie Sanders told supporters he would go on to win not only the Democratic primary, but the general election against President Donald Trump just after being declared the victor in Nevada’s caucuses.
“I’m delighted to bring you some pretty good news,” he told a packed crowd in San Antonio, Texas. “I think all of you know we won the popular vote in Iowa. We won the New Hampshire primary. And according to three networks and the AP, we have now won the Nevada caucus.”
Sanders highlighted the work of his volunteers in the three states.
“No campaign has a grassroots movement like we do, which is another reason why we’re going to win this election,” he said, smiling as his supporters cheered and waved campaign signs. The crowd chanted “Bernie! Bernie!”
“We are going to win here in Texas. We are going to win across the country because the American people are sick and tired of a president who lies all of the time,” Sanders said. “They are sick and tired of a corrupt administration.”
– Christal Hayes
Warren congratulates Sanders, touts fundraising surge
Sen. Elizabeth Warren congratulated Sen. Bernie Sanders for his win in the Nevada caucuses during her rally in Seattle, Washington.
“The race has been called, Bernie has won,” she told hundreds of supporters at the Seattle Center Armory. “Congratulations Bernie.”
The Massachusetts Senator went on to tout her recent surge in fundraising following her performance at the Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas on Wednesday. Warren noted that 250,000 people have gone to her website to donate to her since the debate, adding that they have raised $9 million in the last three days.
“Our support has been growing everywhere,” she said.
She also specifically thanked the state of Nevada, saying “Thank you for keeping me in the fight.”
-- Rebecca Morin
Bloomberg campaign says it’s a ‘fatal error’ to nominate Sanders
Following several media outlets’ projections that Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., would win the Nevada caucuses, the presidential campaign of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said it would be a “fatal error” to nominate a candidate like Sanders “who appeals to a small base.”
Bloomberg did not compete in Nevada because of his late entry into the presidential race, but he appeared on stage last week among other Democratic presidential candidates in the Nevada Democratic debate.
Bloomberg campaign manager Kevin Sheekey said the results showed the “fragmented field is putting Bernie Sanders on pace to amass an insurmountable delegate lead.”
Sheekey argued Sanders’ attacks on the “Democratic establishment” made him the wrong leader for the party, and “attacking your own party is no way to get started.”
Sheekey’s comments are a likely reference to comments from Sanders’ Twitter account, which said yesterday the Republican and Democratic Party establishments would be unable to stop his campaign from winning the nomination.
– Nicholas Wu
Steyer: Nevada caucus finish ‘start of us moving up’
Speaking to supporters in in Las Vegas, billionaire activist Tom Steyer called his likely finish toward the bottom of the pack of Democratic candidates the “start of us moving up.”
“This is the start of us moving up. I think we’re going to have a good night tonight,” he said.
Steyer said he looked ahead to competing in next week's South Carolina primary, where he's banking on a better result. His wife had moved to the state, and he had spent heavily on advertising leading up to next week’s primary.
“In a diverse America, we do better, and better, and better,” he said.
According to the RealClearPolitics average of primary polls, Steyer places at 15.5% in South Carolina, or in third place behind Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and former Vice President Joe Biden.
– Nicholas Wu
Sanders wins Nevada
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders won the Nevada caucuses accelerating the momentum that is making him increasingly hard to beat as the presidential nominating calendar speeds up.
After winning the popular vote in the first three contests, Sanders is in a strong position heading into next week’s primary in South Carolina and the Super Tuesday contests three days later.
His win comes as other candidates are stepping up their attacks on him and outside groups – including Republicans opposed to President Donald Trump – are warning that a Sanders’ nomination would put both the White House and Congress in jeopardy.
Sanders was viewed as the favorite in Nevada with most of the speculation centered on who would come in second.
Super Tuesday on March 3 will be the first test for former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg who will not be on the ballot until March 3.
– Marueen Groppe
Buttigieg goes after Sanders
Pete Buttigieg went hard after Bernie Sanders on Saturday night as news outlets called the Nevada Democratic caucuses for the Vermont senator.
Buttigieg stepped up his recent criticisms as the window narrows for another Democratic hopeful to stop Sanders from getting the nomination.
Buttigieg said the only way Democrats can deliver on the progressive changes the party wants is with a nominee “who actually gives a damn about the effect you are having" on races from the top of the ticket to the competitive House and Senate races Democrats need to win.
He accused Sanders of ignoring, dismissing and even attacking “the very Democrats that we absolutely must send to Capitol Hill."
“Let’s listen to what they are telling us and support them from the top of the ticket,” said Buttigieg, who won more delegates than Sanders in Iowa and collected the same amount as him in New Hampshire. “It is too important.”
Buttigieg was echoing the concerns of center-left Democrats who worry that having a democratic socialist leading the ticket will make it harder for Democrats to win in November.
"I get that team Trump is going to go after whoever we nominate but if we’re going to go with a socialist it’s like we’re leaning with our chin," Democratic strategist Jim Manley said Saturday. "It’s going to be so easy to demonize the entire ballot."
Buttigieg criticized what he called Sanders’ “inflexible, ideological revolution,” saying his view of “capitalism as the root of all evil” would reorder the economy in the ways most Americans wouldn’t support.
Beyond ideology, he also went after what he sees as the divisive nature of Sanders’ campaign.
“We must change what it feels like to live in the United States of America,” Buttigieg said. “And that is a real difference from Senator Sanders’ revolution with the tenor of combat and division, and polarization, leading to a future where whoever wins the day, nothing changes the toxic tone of our politics.”
“We can either call people names online or we can call them into our movement,” he continued. “We can either tighten a narrow and hardcore base or open the tent to a new, and broad and big-hearted American coalition.”
- Maureen Groppe
Sanders supporters celebrate in Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders' supporters gathered to celebrate the Vermont senator’s showing in the Nevada Democratic caucuses at Rebar, a downtown Las Vegas bar.
“He’s for democracy,” said Rainey, a Northern Californian from Humbolt County in town to support Sanders in the Silver State. “He’s about a most equal distribution of the wealth in our world.”
On the back patio of Rebar, Sanders supporters drank beer, snacked on sandwiches the campaign bought for the occasion and tinked glasses to the senator from Vermont.
Between drinks and the music of a live blues guitar player on stage, they chanted: “Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!”
Bernie takes the stage and this Las Vegas goes absolutely bonkers. pic.twitter.com/CoPkywqddW— Ed Komenda (@ejkomenda) February 23, 2020
Lauren Steiner, a grassroots activist and organizer, said it will be difficult for any other Democrat to beat Sanders.
His base, she said, is family — and it’s hard to break family.
“We’re always together,” the longtime Sanders volunteer and delegate said. “I saw people from Utah and Los Angeles. You don’t see that with the other candidates.”
She used three words to describe Sanders — someone she considers a public servant rather than a politician: “Authentic, consistent and compassionate.”
On the patio, supporters danced to a rendition of Bob Marley’s “One Love.”
– Ed Komenda, Reno Gazette Journal
Biden looks ahead after finishing behind Sanders
Former Vice President Joe Biden addressed a crowd of supporters after Sen. Bernie Sanders was declared the winner of the Nevada caucuses, with Biden appearing to trail him by double digits, though it is too early to call a second-place finisher.
“I know we don’t know the final results yet, but I feel really good,” Biden said at his campaign event in Nevada.
Despite disappointing finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire earlier this month, Biden has maintained that he would see stronger support in more racially diverse states. Nevada is the first state to vote with a significant minority population and Biden saw significant support among black voters. He is in the lead with that demographic, followed by Sanders, according to NBC News entrance polling.
“The press is ready to declare people dead quickly, but we’re alive and we’re coming back,” Biden said.
He appeared to knock his opponents Sanders and Michael Bloomberg, touting that he is a Democrat, “and I’m proud of it.”
“I ain’t a socialist. I ain’t a plutocrat. I’m a Democrat,” Biden said.
Biden continued to look ahead, hoping for a victory in South Carolina in a week.
“This is an important moment and I think we're going to look back on this and say this was the beginning of fundamental change," Biden said. “We're at a spot now where we just have to keep moving.”
– Jeanine Santucci
Nevada Democrats: 'Caucuses are running smoothly'
After troubles in Iowa, the Nevada Democratic Party said the caucuses were "running smoothly"
"Caucuses are running smoothly, results are coming in, and we'll have them up soon," said Nevada Democratic Party spokeswoman Molly Forgey. "We’ve been prepared all along for a high influx of results as caucuses wrap up, and we’re working diligently to accommodate and continue processing the high volume of incoming results from precinct chairs."
- Andrew Oxford, Arizona Republic
Trump congratulates Sanders
President Donald Trump apparently is watching the election results in Nevada.
The numbers are still coming in, but Trump noted that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is doing well in the early returns.
“Congratulations Bernie, & don’t let them take it away from you!” he tweeted.
Trump has claimed repeatedly that the Democratic National Committee is working to rig the primary contest against Sanders.
Sanders put Republicans – and Democrats – on notice Friday that he’s not going away.
“I've got news for the Republican establishment,” he tweeted. “I've got news for the Democratic establishment. They can't stop us.”
– Michael Collins
Sanders holds lead in early results
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
Latinos overwhelmingly supported Sanders
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is trouncing other candidates with Latino and Hispanic caucus-goers in Nevada, according to NBC News entrance polling results that showed him with 53% of the vote with that demographic in the seven-person race.
Sanders has a large lead in the Nevada caucus with 3.1% of precincts reporting.
The entrance polls showed former Vice President Joe Biden at 16% of the Latino and Hispanic vote, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 9%, billionaire activist Tom Steyer with 8% and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren with 7%.
Overall, Sanders leads among nonwhite voters as well. 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.
– Jeanine Santucci
Klobuchar: 'As usual I think we have exceeded expectations’
Speaking to supporters in Minneapolis, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said her campaign had “exceeded expectations” in the primary.
“A lot of people didn’t even think I would be standing at this point,” she said.
She said she looked forward to Super Tuesday, when over a third of delegates will be allocated in primaries, noting Minnesota was a Super Tuesday state to cheers from the audience.
With Sanders overwhelmingly leading in the Nevada caucuses, Klobuchar will likely not win many delegates when final results are released.
Critics go after Nevada caucus system
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak suggested last week that legislators would reconsider moving the state to a primary system, rather than the caucuses the state currently uses.
Sondra Cosgrove, president of the League of Women Voters of Nevada, said the league have pushed to end the caucus system and move towards a primary managed by state and local election officials, instead of the political parties.
A shambolic 2016 round of caucusing led to calls for reform.
The Democratic Party later made a series of changes to the process this year aimed at making the caucuses more inclusive. The party set up early caucuses, for example, which drew a whopping 75,000 participants. That may end up being more than half of the total number of caucus goers.
But the early caucuses were not exactly flawless. Some participants stood in long lines to cast their votes. And the party has already voided a few thousand ballots from the early caucuses. The party said most were voided because the ballots were not properly signed.
The party also scrapped an app it had planned on using for caucus sites across the state. It was developed, however, by the same company that developed the app used in Iowa. Party officials have had to pull together Plan B in a matter of weeks.
Expect to hear much more about these issues as Nevadans debate whether to keep the caucus, or try something else.
"If Nevada can demonstrate an ability to successfully administer a caucus, then there's a chance it survives to live another cycle," said Nathan Gonzales, editor of the newsletter Inside Elections. "But if the Nevada caucus has even a few glitches that cause delay or uncertainty, I think it will be the final nail in the coffin for that process in future presidential nominating contests."
– Andrew Oxford, Arizona Republic
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.
“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.
BIG news: Since we first announced our goal to raise $7 million before the Nevada caucuses, we’ve raised more than $14 million—double our goal.— Team Warren (@TeamWarren) February 22, 2020
Thank you to every #WarrenDonor who pitched in to help build our campaign. Let’s keep going! https://t.co/bf9rPbbZYM
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.
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.
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
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.
Las Vegas debate: Everyone came for Mike Bloomberg and other top moments
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.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Nevada caucus updates: Sanders wins as focus shifts to South Carolina