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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

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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.

Read the latest updates:

Download the NBC News app for full coverage and alerts on the latest news.

Live Blog

ANALYSIS: It's not just bros —Sanders' electorate reflects a cross-section of the party

LAS VEGAS — Put "Bernie Bros" on the back-burner.

It's the army of sobrinos and sobrinas — the Spanish words for nephews and nieces — who should strike fear in the hearts of Bernie Sanders' rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination and party elites after he ran up the score among Latino voters in the Nevada caucuses Saturday. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and other Latinx backers of Sanders refer to him fondly as their "tío," or uncle.

Sanders was the choice of 54 percent of Hispanic caucus-goers Saturday on his way to steamrolling to the most convincing victory of the primary season, according to an NBC entrance poll. His closest competitor, former Vice President Joe Biden, racked up 14 percent, with no other candidate cracking double digits.

Those results signaled that the energy Sanders has poured into building a more diverse coalition than his failed 2016 campaign is paying off at just the right time. He can now stake the first claim — less than two weeks before the "Super Tuesday" contests in 14 states — to having won a state where white, Hispanic and black voters are all represented in substantial numbers.

Read the full analysis here.

Hotline jams responsible for some reporting delays

Multiple Nevada caucus precinct chairs told NBC News that they had to wait anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours to phone in their site results due to jammed hotlines Saturday.

“It just beeped the whole time,” said Ashlyne Rose, a 20-year-old nursing student and precinct chair.

Two chairs interviewed by NBC News said that the Nevada Democratic Party had texted them Saturday afternoon to provide the phone number they were supposed to use to report results. But when the time came, several chairs tried repeatedly to get through and were initially unable to do so.

Around 5 p.m. ET, or 2 p.m. local time, the party sent a second text message with three additional phone numbers to call. “Thanks so much for your hard work. If you haven’t reported yet, you can call any of the following numbers to do so,” the message read. “If you don’t reach us right away, we’ll give you a call back to take your results.”

Calling those numbers resulted in being placed on hold for up to 20 minutes for some chairs, but the chairs said they were eventually able to report their results.

During the Iowa caucuses on two weeks ago, results were delayed for hours as an app coding issue and overwhelmed phone lines bogged down reporting. There was no evidence of any issue on a similar magnitude in Nevada and caucus managers said they weren’t overly concerned.

"I wasn’t really worried, I just thought I would call in a bit after calls went through," Rose said.

Gary Reese, a 65-year-old government worker, arrived a precinct in Elko County as an observer and was quickly pressed into service as a precinct chair due to a shortage of volunteers.

"First time I called I got a disconnected tone, like the line is not in service," Reese said.

Eventually he was told to go home and keep trying from there. He never received the secondary list of phone numbers because he was a day-of volunteer and neither the site lead nor the Democratic Party had his information. Around 7:15 p.m. ET, or 4:15 p.m. local time, he was able to submit his results via the original phone number.

Not everyone had to wait, however. Another precinct chair told NBC News they were able to report in results without issue on the original phone number. 

Molly Forgey, the Nevada Democratic Party spokesperson, told NBC News in an email that the party had 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."

Bloomberg campaign: Nominating Sanders would be 'a fatal error' for Democrats

Mike Bloomberg's campaign manager, Kevin Sheekey, blasted Bernie Sanders following the results of the Nevada caucuses, saying that nominating the Vermont senator would be a "fatal error" for Democrats.

"The Nevada results reinforce the reality that this fragmented field is putting Bernie Sanders on pace to amass an insurmountable delegate lead," Sheekey said. "This is a candidate who just declared war on the so-called 'Democratic establishment.'"

"We are going to need Independents AND Republicans to defeat Trump — attacking your own party is no way to get started," Sheekey said. "As Mike says, if we choose a candidate who appeals to a small base — like Senator Sanders — it will be a fatal error."

Graphic: See which candidates increased their support from the first round of the caucuses to the second

Unlike in primary elections, higher-tier candidates can pick up extra support during the Nevada caucuses. This is because candidates that do not have support from at least 15 percent of caucus-goers in the first alignment are eliminated.

Here’s a look at the support levels each candidate received during the alignments. Note that the percent reported displayed here represents the number of precincts that have reported its initial and reallocated numbers.

This chart will update as more results come in. See the full results on NBC News' Nevada election results page.

Sanders' Nevada win cheered by Latinos

Valeria  Romano said she could see a difference when she was knocking on Latinos' doors for Bernie Sanders in this election compared to 2016. People were more responsive, paying attention, and many were in agreement with her support for Sanders.

"I did’t think it was going to happen, that we were going to have this kind of lead," Romano told NBC News.

"It proves to me that the last election wasn’t in vain," she said. "It was just the beginning. Now we’re seeing how it's going to turn out and people are going to pay attention now. Bernie has woken up so many minds and that gives me hope especially for the future."

Romano, 32, is a mother of two with another child on the way, and she works one job at a retail art supply store and a second job selling her screen printings. Yet she increased her work on Sanders' behalf for this campaign to help get more Latinos to vote for him and increase the community's influence in picking a presidential nominee. 

In 2016, people in the community knew Sanders only as "el hombre con el pelo (the man with the hair)," she said after NBC News projected Sanders as the caucus winner. "People really knew him this time. He was Tío (uncle) Bernie or El Quemazon (the burn), a moniker that became a corrido or ballad.

Sanders' campaign was on the ground early and has integrated outreach to Latino voters throughout the campaign, said Chuck Rocha, Sanders' campaign adviser. The campaign has spent millions to reach new Latino voters and those that have not voted often. It hired 200 staff in Nevada, about a third of whom are Latino, almost all of them bilingual, Rocha said. 

Rocha said he'd been consistently targeting 100,000 Latinos — over 50,000 more than those who caucused in the last election or who regularly vote. Sanders' finish in Nevada shows that "early intentional investments can deliver the Latino vote," he said.

"We won the Nevada caucus by historic margins by incorporating Latinos into leadership and every part of the campaign," he said. 

"Every time I'm with him (Sanders), he turns to me and says, 'Chuck, tell me what we are doing to get the Latinos out,'" he said. 

Showing his intention to keep trying to rally Latinos, Sanders gave his victory speech in San Antonio, Texas, a heavily Latino city and home of former presidential candidate Julián Castro.

Sanders celebrates Nevada victory, touts 'multi-generational and multi-racial coalition'

Bernie Sanders celebrated his decisive victory in the Nevada caucuses on Saturday, introducing his wife Jane Sanders to an energized crowd in San Antonio, Texas, as “the next first lady.” 

“Let me introduce to you the next first lady,” Sanders said, as he took the stage to a cheering crowd of supporters. “You will be very proud of her as first lady.” 

“Let me thank the people of Nevada for their support," Sanders continued, touting a "multi-generational and multi-racial coalition" that not only delivered a victory to him tonight, but “is going to sweep this country.”

Sanders was in Texas campaigning ahead of the Lone Star State's primary on Super Tuesday, March 3. 

“Don't tell anybody I don't want to get them nervous,” Sanders said. “We are going to win the Democratic nomination in Texas.”

Sander poked fun at President Donald Trump, who had been tweeting about the Vermont senator as caucus results rolled in.

“The president gets very, very upset easily so don't tell him we are going to beat him here in Texas,” Sanders said.

After Sanders win, culinary union says it remains committed to its health care plan

After Bernie Sanders became the projected winner in Nevada, the powerful Culinary Workers Union in the state released a statement that said they remained focused on defeating Donald Trump in the fall and "securing healthcare for all, while maintaining a choice for Culinary Union members to keep what we’ve built in 85 years."

The statement is of note as the union released a thinly veiled attack on Sanders for his Medicare for All plan that they claimed would "end Culinary health care" ahead of the caucuses. The group did not endorse any candidate. 

The union's broadside, however, gained national attention, and the organization later called the backlash from Sanders' supporters for their stance "vicious." The fracas opened a new avenue for criticism from his opponents and forced Sanders to share his support for the group.

While the union did say that their other platform issue would remain "Defeating Trump on Election Day," it remains to be seen if they will fully get behind a Sanders' candidacy. 

Buttigieg congratulates — and then rips — Bernie Sanders

Pete Buttigieg congratulated Sen. Bernie Sanders for winning the Nevada caucuses on Saturday — and then said he thought the Democratic frontrunner is so divisive that he could lead the party to defeat in November. 

"Before we rush to nominate Senator Sanders, let's take a sober look at what’s at stake," Buttigieg told supporters. 

"Senator Sanders believes in an inflexible, ideological revolution that leaves out most Democrats, not to mention most Americans," the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor said, adding that Sanders has "a vision of capitalism as the root of all evil."

Buttigieg also suggested that having Sanders on top of the Democratic ticket would lead to defeat in House and Senate races. 

“I believe the only way to truly deliver any of the progressive changes we care about is to be a nominee who actually gives a damn about the effect you are having, from the top of the ticket, on those crucial, frontline House and Senate Democrats running to win,” he said. 

"We can prioritize either ideological purity or inclusive victory. We can either call people names online or call them into our movement," he continued, adding, "I believe the best way to defeat Donald Trump and deliver for the American people is to broaden and galvanize the majority that supports us."  

"This is our only shot to defeat Donald Trump," he said. "Let's make sure we get this choice right." 

Buttigieg's remarks drew criticism from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Sanders supporter, who said the former South Bend mayor was speaking "for the American elite, not the majority."

De Blasio, who briefly ran for president himself, tweeted at Buttigieg again a few minutes later, calling him "smug" and saying he needed to show "humility."

 

Joe Biden: 'We're alive and we're coming back and we're going to win!'

While early returns show Joe Biden running well behind Sen. Bernie Sanders in Nevada, the former vice president told supporters in Las Vegas "I feel really good" about the results. 

"You know, I know we don't have the final results yet, but I feel really good. You put me in a position — you know, the press is ready to declare people dead quickly, but we're alive and we're coming back and we're going to win," Biden told his cheering supporters, including one who yelled that Biden is "the comeback kid."

"Y’all did it for me. Now we're going to go to South Carolina and win and take this back," Biden said. 

NBC News projects Bernie Sanders has won the the Nevada Democratic caucuses. It remains too early to call second and third-place finishers.

Trump formally snares Nevada delegates

As the results from Nevada's Democratic caucuses trickled in Saturday night, President Donald Trump was officially awarded all of the state Republican party's 25 delegates.

The state party had already canceled its caucuses, and voted by acclimation on Saturday to give Trump all of the delegates, executive director Will Sexauer told The Associated Press

The Nevada numbers give Trump 86 of the 87 Republican delegates awarded to date. Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld won one delegate in Iowa.