Bernie Wins Nevada (US Election Update)

Casino workers hold up presidential preference cards as they support Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., during a presidential caucus at the Bellagio hotel-casino, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo)

The Associated Press

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Bernie Sanders scored a resounding victory in Nevada’s presidential caucuses on Saturday, cementing his status as the Democrats’ national front-runner amid escalating tensions over whether he’s too liberal to defeat President Donald Trump.

The 78-year-old Vermont senator successfully rallied his fiercely loyal base and tapped into support from Nevada’s large Latino community as the Democratic contest moved for the first time into a state with a significant minority population.

The win built on Sanders’ win earlier this month in the New Hampshire primary. He essentially tied for first place in the Iowa caucuses with Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who has sought to position himself as an ideological counter to Sanders’ unabashed progressive politics, but was fighting for a distant second place in Nevada.

The victory, while encouraging for Sanders supporters, only deepens concern among establishment-minded Democratic leaders who fear that the self-described democratic socialist is too extreme to defeat Trump. Sanders for decades has been calling for transformative policies to address inequities in politics and the economy, none bigger than his signature “Medicare for All” health care plan that would replace the private insurance system with a government-run universal system.

Despite establishment anxiety, moderates are struggling to unify behind a single candidate, and the vote on Saturday was again split between several centrists, including Buttigieg and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Also in the mix: Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who desperately needed a spark to revive her stalled bid; billionaire Tom Steyer, who spent more than $12 million on Nevada television, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who hoped to prove her strong New Hampshire finish was no fluke.

After the chaos of Iowa’s caucuses, there were concerns about Nevada’s similar setup. But no major problems were in sight.

At noon, under sunny skies, dozens of uniformed housekeepers and casino workers cast ballots in the Bellagio, one of seven casino-resorts on the Las Vegas Strip among 200 locations statewide that hosted caucuses. Nevada is the third contest on a 2020 election calendar marked by chaos and uncertainty after the opening votes in Iowa and New Hampshire, overwhelmingly white, rural states.

The first presidential contest in the West is testing the candidates’ strength with black and Latino voters for the first time in 2020. Nevada’s population aligns more with the U.S. as a whole, compared with Iowa and New Hampshire: 29% Latino, 10% black and 9% Asian American and Pacific Islander.

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Related:

Why Bernie Sanders Is Winning Black and Brown Voters This Time (GQ)

Ethiopian Americans Voting Early in Nevada (UPDATE)

The presidential contest turns to African American and Latino voters

Bernie Sanders Wins New Hampshire Primary (Update)

Ethiopian Meatpackers Go for Bernie in Iowa (2020 U.S. Election Update)

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