Bernie Sanders is expected to win the Nevada caucuses, strengthening the leadership of the Senator from Vermont in the run for the 2020 democratic nomination.
With over 43% of the results officially reported on Saturday night, Sanders got a comfortable win. It wasn’t clear when the final results would arrive, but at 8:00 pm local time, former Vice President Joe Biden appeared in second place, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg third and Senator of the Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren fourth.
Here are the initial takeaways of the “first-in-the-west” primary:
Sanders wins the Latin vote and goes to victory
Sanders owes his victory in Nevada largely to his Latin supporters. More than half of Hispanic voters supported Sanders as their first choice, according to an NBC entry survey. The campaign invested heavily, and soon, in raising awareness of the community in this state, where Latin citizens represent one in five voters.
“Traditionally, awareness of Latin voters is done at the last minute, but we think when you win the Latin voter, this is the path to the White House,” said Bélen Sisa, Latin press secretary for Bernie Sanders, who came to make a voter of the last throw in a Desert Pines caucus in East Las Vegas.
The Sanders campaign focuses heavily on the attraction of voters who do not normally participate in the political process, including Latins, young people and minorities. In Nevada, this meant deploying an army of volunteers and staff to make phone calls and knock on doors. The campaign also hosted events for example “Tamales for Tío Bernie” and a football game in front of the caucus. In some parts of Las Vegas, “our volunteers are based on the name of the people in the community,” said Sisa.
Sanders consolidates its advantage
Sanders has exhibited in all three primary states. He won the popular vote in Iowa and took home a large portion of delegates in that state, and finished first in the New Hampshire premiere.
In South Carolina and the Super Tuesday states, where the different electorate looks much more like Nevada than mostly white Iowa and New Hampshire, Sanders may be ready to take the Democratic nomination.
Meanwhile, his opponents continue to divide the votes of several centrist Democratic voters, leaving Sanders with the most delegates so far won.
The post-caucus, while Sanders projected itself as the final foil for Donald Trump, some of his opponents tried to bring him down. Pete Buttigieg told Las Vegas supporters that Sanders was too divisive to be the candidate. “Senator Sanders believes in an inflexible ideological revolution that excludes most Democrats, not to mention most Americans,” said Buttigieg. “I believe we must defeat Trump and turn the page of this era in our politics by establishing a tone of belonging.”
Biden declares himself alive
Joe Biden’s team expects the former vice president to finish second in Nevada, revitalizing his flag campaign. At least for now. “The press is ready to quickly declare people dead. Well, we’re alive, ”Biden told Las Vegas supporters while the results were still tabulated. Biden tried to sell himself as the most valid moderate in the race. “I’m not a socialist. I’m not a plutocrat, I’m a democrat. And proud of it!” Biden said.
Biden counts on a strong result in South Carolina next week and in the United States on Super Tuesday on March 3 to stay in the race.
Future challenges for Buttigieg, Klobuchar and Warren
For the other candidates, Sanders’ victory on the run in Nevada doesn’t bode well. The strong performance of Elizabeth Warren’s debate did not seem to translate into delegates on the day of the caucus. Part of the problem may have been that nearly 75,000 people voted early before the debate. With 43% of the fences, Warren was in fourth place, behind Buttigieg.
Buttigieg also has future concerns. Although the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana has done well in Iowa and New Hampshire, he has not been able to take over the diverse Nevada electorate. According to NBC entry polls, Buttigieg had 18% support among white voters, 10% among Hispanic voters and only 2% among black voters.
Amy Klobuchar’s path to the nomination seems to end. The Minnesota senator finished fifth in Iowa and third in New Hampshire, and finished near the bottom in Nevada on Saturday evening.
Healthcare has been a big problem for many voters
Many of the voters that Guardian reporters talked to before and after the caucuses said health care was among their biggest concerns.
At a Sanders rally the night before the caucus, Daniel Dunbar, 59, said the Vermont Senator’s Medicare plan for everyone felt urgently needed. “My brother died on the way to the hospital yesterday,” said Dunbar. With a Medicare for All system, his brother may have been able to get to an emergency room closer – on time, Dunbar said. “I don’t like you having to take your bank with you to the hospital,” he said.
A entry survey The Washington Post found that six in 10 voters said they supported the creation of a single-pay health system.
Ahead of the caucuses, the powerful Culinary Workers Union, which claims to represent 60,000 hotel and casino workers in Nevada and provide 130,000-hard-won health insurance, came out this month opposing Sanders’ health proposal. But this doesn’t seem to have deterred union voters. At the Bellagio Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, where more than a hundred casino workers gathered under the ballroom candelabra to cheer on Saturday, Sanders had the most support.
“I have excellent health insurance through my union,” said Monica Smith, 54, who works for in-room dining at Bellagio. But he said Sanders’ Medicare for All plan appealed because he wanted his friends, family, and colleagues who didn’t belong to a union to have access to equally good health care.