Nevada caucuses live updates: Bernie Sanders wins Nevada Democratic caucuses

The candidates — not including Mike Bloomberg, who is not on the ballot — competed for the state's 36 pledged delegates.
Image: The Nevada caucuses will take place on Feb. 22, 2020.
The Nevada caucuses will take place on Feb. 22, 2020.Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

Bernie Sanders was the winner of Saturday's Nevada caucuses, according to an NBC News projection.

Saturday's caucuses followed a fiery debate among the candidates earlier in the week in which Sanders, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren challenged former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg on sexism and race and Amy Klobuchar sparred with Pete Buttigieg over their political experience.

Nevada is the first Western state in the Democratic presidential primary following New Hampshire and the chaos that was the Iowa caucuses.

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Caucus workers tally and report votes through an iPad

Nevada Caucus workers tally votes and report them to the Nevada Democratic Party through an iPad in the Nevada Democratic Caucus at Liberty High School in Henderson, Nev., on Feb. 22, 2020.Patrick Fallon / Reuters

Sanders stumps in Texas while reaping support in Nevada

Bernie Sanders didn't take time to gloat in Nevada on Saturday despite boasting what appears to be a healthy early lead in initial preference results, largely because of support from young, liberal voters. 

Instead, the Vermont senator stumped in Texas, looking toward the Super Tuesday contest and the 228 delegates to win there. His Democratic opponents, meanwhile, tried to boost their support at numerous caucus locations across the Silver State.

Hundreds of people came to see Sanders in El Paso, where the presidential nominee directed most of his political fire at President Donald Trump and the wealthy rather than the Democrats he's currently running against. At the top, Sanders emphasized that his campaign was about "us, not me."

"When I look out at this audience, I have absolute confidence that we can create a government that is based on compassion, it’s based on love, it’s based on truth, not what we have now of greed, corruption and lies," Sanders said, adding that President Donald Trump "is a pathological liar, who is running a corrupt administration, who is a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, a xenophobe and a religious bigot."

Sanders then hit on some of his favored policy topics, including raising the minimum wage, defending women's rights, addressing climate change, supporting unions, overhauling the criminal justice system, providing universal childcare, canceling student debt and pushing for Medicare for All. 

"Let's transform this country!" Sanders yelled at the end of the speech to cheers from his supporters. 

ANALYSIS: Sanders shows union leaders limits of their power

The most powerful union in Nevada, the culinary workers, came out hard against Sanders with a thinly veiled attack on his Medicare for All health insurance proposal. But Sanders is expected to do well here, as he did in Iowa, despite significant pushback from labor leadership. Of course, not all unions oppose Sanders' plans — or have the same degree of opposition — but some of the biggest unions have gone as far as they feel they can in trying to turn M4A into a loser for him. 

That's bad news for the suits who make decisions about what unions will do in the political realm. If Sanders can withstand such attacks, it suggests he's closer to the workers than their own union leaders. And that will increasingly force labor leaders to decide whether they want to risk further exposing rifts between themselves and their members on one of the most important issues for those members.

Rather than counter-punching against unions that share much of his agenda on other matters, Sanders has chosen to show his strength without further alienating the brass. If he wins the Democratic nomination, he'll need the force of major labor unions to help him against Trump, and the decision to play this fight more subtly is a sign of political sophistication on his part.

Because they share a lot of constituents, there's not much upside to either labor leaders or Sanders in a protracted or ugly war. If his performances in Nevada and Iowa get his detractors in the labor movement to back off — and there are signs that might happen — he'll be in an even stronger position going forward.

Buttigieg backers affirm their support with a show of hands

Nevada voters indicate their support for Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg during voting inside the Nevada Democratic Caucus at Liberty High School in Henderson, Nev., on Feb. 22, 2020.Patrick T. Fallon / Reuters

Teens say it's been 'pretty chill' to work on caucuses

At Rancho High School near downtown Las Vegas, most of the volunteers running the caucus were high school students.

The students were between 15 to 18 years old.

"This is the next generation," said Yesenia Moya, 30, who was the temporary precinct chair. "I’m proud to be a part of this today."

NBC News Entrance Poll: Young, first-time voters make up large share of Nevada’s Latino Democrats

Latino voters account for 1 in 5 participants in Saturday’s Nevada Democratic presidential caucuses. They are substantially younger and less likely to hold a college degree than white Nevada Democrats — and are more likely to be attending a Democratic caucus for the first time, early results from the NBC News Entrance Poll show.

More than half of Latino Democratic caucusgoers are under age 45, compared to just a third of white caucusgoers. Nearly two-thirds of Nevada’s Latino voters are participating in a Democratic caucus for the first time; that’s true for less than half of white voters.

Among Latinos at Saturday’s Democratic caucuses, 78 percent support replacing private health insurance with a single government-run plan, a substantially higher share than among white voters (60 percent).

Entrance poll results indicate that Bernie Sanders enjoys a wide lead among Nevada's Latino caucusgoers. 

'Just get Mike Bloomberg in there': Clint Eastwood distances himself from Trump

Longtime Republican Clint Eastwood is pulling support from Donald Trump in the 2020 election. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, the actor-director signaled that he thinks a different candidate would be the better choice.

"The best thing we could do is just get Mike Bloomberg in there," he said.

After endorsing Mitt Romney and famously delivering a speech at the 2012 Republican National Convention to an empty chair that represented Barack Obama, Eastwood never officially backed Trump. In a 2016 interview, he expressed displeasure with Trump and Hillary Clinton, saying there's "much funny business on both sides of the aisle."

Read what else the actor and filmmaker said.

Biden volunteer puts the sell on undecided voter

Beverly Jackson, a precinct captain for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, tries to convince another voter who said they were leaning towards Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren or Senator Amy Klobuchar to come over to the Biden camp inside the caucus at Liberty High School in Henderson, Nev., on Feb. 22, 2020.Patrick T. Fallon / Reuters

ANALYSIS: Strong Latino support for Sanders portends even tougher road ahead for rivals

Early exit polls show Sanders winning 51 percent, a slight majority, of Latino voters in the Nevada caucuses. In a two-person race, that lead wouldn't be such a big deal. In the scramble that is the Democratic nomination contest, it's a huge figure with magnified implications for the Super Tuesday delegate chase coming up in about 10 days.

Here's why: Fourteen of the 53 House districts in California are Hispanic-majority, and more than half of them have Latino populations exceeding 35 percent. If California Latinos and Latinas vote like their counterparts in Nevada, Sanders is in great shape to dominate many of those districts and net a large number of delegates out of them collectively.

A similar dynamic is at play in Texas, where district-level delegates are decided by state Senate seats rather than congressional seats. In the Lone Star state, 7 of the state's 31 districts are Hispanic-majority, and many others have significant Latino influence.

Sanders is holding a rally in Texas Saturday afternoon.

Some Dem candidates temper expectations as Nevada caucus results roll in

Amy Klobuchar said she's a viable candidate no matter what happens Saturday, Joe Biden pivoted to his fundraising and Elizabeth Warren literally jogged away and yelled "back to the car" after reporters asked each nominee how they were feeling about their chances as the initial results for the Nevada caucuses began to trickle in.

The three top candidates seemed to be tempering expectations before there is a clear outcome, and many pointed to future contests and their investments in other upcoming states' contests. Early results in Nevada indicate Bernie Sanders had a significant advantage over the other contenders in Saturday's race.

But while Klobuchar, Warren and Biden were still in Nevada visiting caucus locations, it appeared the Vermont senator had already shifted his gaze to Super Tuesday and left for El Paso, Texas, where he was scheduled to hold a rally in the late afternoon. 

Some Nevada caucus sites facing volunteer shortages

LAS VEGAS — Voters were turning out for the Nevada caucuses on Saturday, but there was a lack of volunteers to meet them at some polling locations.

At Rancho High School, a caucus location with 11 precincts just outside of Las Vegas, almost all of the volunteers were high school students, many of whom are unable to vote themselves because of their age. The only adult that NBC News spotted working at the site was the caucus lead — the school's social studies teacher. The students were only trained Friday night, and officials were actively looking for more adult volunteers to help coach the teens through the process.

At another precinct near the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, a state Democratic official told campaign representatives that there weren't enough volunteers statewide, and that the campaigns might have to staff voting locations themselves.

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