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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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Live Blog

Democratic voters embrace Medicare for All in Iowa, N.H. and Nevada

LAS VEGAS — NBC News entrance or exit polls find that Medicare for All is supported by large majorities of Democratic voters in Iowa (57 percent support to 38 percent opposition), New Hampshire (58 percent support to 37 percent opposition) and Nevada (62 percent support to 35 percent opposition).

That helps explain the strength of Bernie Sanders in all three states and indicates that rival candidates who staked their primary campaigns on opposing Medicare for All — most notably Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg — may have miscalculated. Many Democratic voters in 2020 are less interested in candidates who talk about what is politically possible and more interested in candidates who seek to change what is possible.

NBC News Entrance Poll: Support for Sanders and Warren divided along education lines in Nevada

An educational divide separates the Nevada supporters of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, the two leading liberal contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, results from the NBC News Entrance Poll show.

The Massachusetts senator drew her strongest support in Nevada from the most educated caucusgoers. She received 19 percent of the vote among those with an advanced degree. But at each step of the education ladder below this level, Warren did worse: She bottomed out at 8 percent among those who have never attended college.

Sanders did better than Warren among Nevada voters at every education level, but his pattern was the reverse of hers. Among Democratic caucusgoers who have never attended college, he was favored by nearly half. Sanders’ support was reduced at each additional level of educational attainment; he and Warren ran virtually neck-and-neck among those with an advanced degree.

The Vegas way: Buttigieg backer pulls winning card to break tie at Nevada caucus

It was the luck of the draw for Pete Buttigieg at a Nevada caucus on Saturday. Literally.

At the North Valleys High School caucus site in Reno, Buttigieg's supporters drew from a card deck the number 3, while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' backers picked a 2, breaking a delegate tie between the candidates and making the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor the winner of this caucus location.

The Nevada Democratic Party has used a deck of cards to break ties since 2008. Per party rules, if two caucus groups are tied, then representatives from each candidate draws a single card from a deck in order to break the tie. The winner is the high card, with aces the highest.

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NBC News Entrance Poll: Championed by Sanders, 'Medicare For All' supported by 6 in 10 Nevada Democratic voters

More than half of Nevadans participating in Saturday's Democratic presidential caucuses support "Medicare for All," according to results from the NBC News Entrance Poll. A signature policy proposal of Bernie Sanders, Medicare for All would replace Americans’ private health insurance with a single government plan. 

Medicare for All’s numbers in Nevada are similar to those seen in the other two 2020 Democratic presidential contests so far, in New Hampshire and Iowa. 

Sanders appears the favorite at Latino-heavy caucus site

Bernie Sanders' popularity in parts of the Latino community was clear at a caucus site in east Las Vegas, showing how much his campaign has penetrated into the community.

Sanders came out on top of each of four precincts that met in the Desert Pines High School's cafeteria and often was 10 points or more ahead of the second place candidate, who was Joe Biden in three precincts and Tom Steyer in a fourth. 

Although Sanders registers high support with young Latinos, the in-person caucusgoers were a mix of younger and middle-aged people.

Early votes appeared to help Sanders put distance between himself and other candidates. In one of the precincts, 18 people showed up to caucus, but 63 people voted early, according to initial calculations. In the precinct's unofficial results, Sanders got 16 people in the room and 40 early voters, while Biden got one vote in the room and 18 early voters. One caucusgoer who initially was for Pete Buttigieg chose to be uncommitted after Buttigieg failed to get enough votes to be viable.

Sabryna Gomez, 18, who attended her first caucus, initially caucused for Tom Steyer. She said she had seen him on the news and he encouraged her to come out for him. But Steyer was not viable in her precinct, so she switched her vote to Sanders. 

Javier Galvez, 35, was the only in-person caucusgoer to choose Biden and was not joined by anyone on the second round. But early votes kept Biden in the race.

"I'm glad I was able to help push him over the top to be a viable candidate," Galvez said. 

In another precinct, Alejandra Romero, 28, a student at the University of Nevada Las Vegas campus, said she was thrilled with the support for Sanders in her precinct. 

"I had a lot of faith in our community. I went with my heart first. In our community, we are clear on the principles and values wanted from a candidate," she said. Sanders' values "are very clear, and right now the stakes are too high." 

NBC News Entrance Poll: Biden leads among black voters in Nevada; Sanders in second

Joe Biden leads among black participants in Saturday's Nevada Democratic caucuses, with Bernie Sanders in second place, results from the NBC News Entrance Poll show. The Vermont senator sits solidly in first place among the state’s Latino voters.

Entrance poll results show Biden with 36 percent of the black vote at Nevada's caucuses and Sanders with 27 percent. In third place is billionaire Tom Steyer, followed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Black voters made up about 1 in 10 participants at the Nevada caucuses.

Sanders is clearly leading his rivals among Nevada’s Latino Democrats, who made up about 1 in 5 caucusgoers. He’s winning about half of the Latino vote, leaving Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Steyer and Warren far behind.

Sanders has built a slimmer lead among Nevada’s white Democratic caucusgoers (65 percent of Saturday's electorate), receiving nearly 3 in 10 of their votes. That’s 9 points ahead of Buttigieg, his closest rival in this group. 

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."