Nevada Democratic caucus: live commentary

Live commentary on today’s Nevada Democratic caucus. Guest post by Adrian Beaumont.

4:06pm 88% counted now, and Biden will finish second ahead of Buttigieg.  I’ve done an article for The Conversation that emphasises the differences between the county delegate count (huge win for Sanders) and the initial popular vote (far less impressive for Sanders).

9:50am Monday Still only 60% reporting.  If Nevada was close like Iowa, there’d be another stink about the slow results.

4:30pm 43% now reporting, and Sanders has 47% of county delegates, but only 34.5% of the initial alignment vote.  He has 40.3% of the vote after realignment.

4:08pm CNN has more up-to-date figures on initial and final votes.  Using CNN’s results, I calculate that Sanders has 35% of the initial vote and 40.5% of the vote after realignment with 34% in.  Those figures are not as impressive for Sanders as his share of county delegates (47%).

Once again, we’ve had a dreadfully slow caucus count.  Hopefully there’ll be more clarity tomorrow.

2:10pm And it’s suddenly jumped to 22.5% reporting, with Sanders at 34% on first alignment, 40% on final alignment and 47% of county delegates.

2:07pm With 11% reporting, the Sanders margin is smaller on the first alignment votes.  Sanders has 34% on this measure, Biden 19%, Buttigieg 16% and Warren 12%.  On popular votes after realignment, Sanders has 40%, Biden 23%, Buttigieg 17% and Warren 10%.  On county delegates, 47% Sanders, 24% Biden and 14% Buttigieg.

Sanders is being assisted in the final alignment votes by being the only candidate who exceeds the 15% threshold in the vast majority of precincts.

12:20pm With 4% reporting, the Associated Press has CALLED Nevada for Bernie Sanders.

11:18am Once again (as in New Hampshire), the AP count, used by the NY Times, is well behind the count used by the TV networks including CNN.  With 10% reporting, the CNN results give Sanders a large lead in initial votes, but there are no percentages.

11:05am As with Iowa, the counting in Nevada is SLOOOOW!!  Just 3.4% of precincts have reported their initial alignment.

9:52am With less than 3% reporting, Sanders has 44% of the initial vote, 54% of the final vote and 55% of county delegates.  The initial vote is slightly ahead of the other two measures in precincts reporting.  Still a long way to go, but it’s looking like a big win for Sanders.

8:41am With 1% reporting, Sanders has 48% of the initial alignment, 53% of the vote after candidate realignment, and 52% of the county delegates.  Biden is a distant second with 18%, 23% and 26% on these three measures respectively.

7:33am The caucuses actually began 33 minutes ago.  First results are expected by 8:30am.  Entrance polls give Sanders about 35%, with the next highest at 15%.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

The Nevada Democratic caucuses begin at 10am local time Saturday (5am Sunday AEDT). I am not sure when to expect results; they could come in the early morning, but may not come on Sunday at all, given the Iowa fiasco. Caucuses are managed by the party, not the state’s electoral authorities. It should be a relief that there are very few caucuses after Nevada.

Democratic delegates are allocated proportionally to all candidates who clear a 15% threshold, both within a state and Congressional District.  In the RealClearPolitics Nevada poll average, Bernie Sanders has 29.0%, Joe Biden 16.0%, Pete Buttigieg 14.0%, Elizabeth Warren 14.0% and Amy Klobuchar 10.5%. Current national polls give Sanders 28.7%, Biden 17.3%, Mike Bloomberg 15.2%, Warren 12.7%, Buttigieg 10.0% and Klobuchar 6.7%.

With these polls, Sanders is the only candidate far enough above 15% to be assured of clearing that threshold virtually everywhere. If these national poll results are reflected on Super Tuesday March 3, when 14 states vote and 34% of all pledged delegates are awarded, Sanders’ share of delegates would far exceed his vote share.

There is one contest after Nevada before Super Tuesday: the South Carolina primary next Saturday.  Biden needs a big win, but his lead over Sanders has plunged from 14 points in late January to just four points now.

Bloomberg had been gaining in the polls, at least before Wednesday’s widely criticised debate performance.  However, in a direct match-up with Sanders, he got crushed by a 57-37 margin in an NBC/WSJ poll.  While Bloomberg is winning the votes of those Democrats who believe only a billionaire can beat Donald Trump, most Democrats dislike giving the nomination to a billionaire.

If nobody comes near a majority of pledged delegates, there will be a contested Democratic convention in mid-July. Should this occur, it would be the first since 1952. If Bloomberg defeated Sanders at a contested convention, the Democratic party’s left would react badly to the perception of a billionaire stealing the nomination from their guy.

Assisted by the good US economy, Trump’s ratings are trending up.  In the FiveThirtyEight aggregate, his net approval is -7.8% with polls of registered or likely voters. Trump still trails the leading Democrats in RealClearPolitics averages, with Sanders, Biden and Bloomberg leading by 4.5 points, and Buttigieg, Warren and Klobuchar leading by two points.

328 comments on “Nevada Democratic caucus: live commentary”

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  1. Sanders looking good early. Warren too. Bit hard to tell what the big picture is though since it’s just first round voting from individual sites at this stage.

  2. Moderate or conservative Dems.

    Steve Kornacki@SteveKornacki
    From the entrance poll, among the 34% of NV Dem caucus participants who call themselves moderate or conservative:

    Sanders 23%
    Biden 22%
    Buttigieg 20%
    Klobuchar 14%
    Steyer 10%

  3. Yashar Ali Elephant@yashar
    Looking back…here’s what happened in Nevada in 2016 and 2008


    Clinton: 52.64%
    Sanders: 47.29%

    Clinton Pledged Delegates: 20
    Sanders Pledged Delegates: 15


    Clinton: 50.82%
    Obama: 45.09%

    Clinton Pledged Delegates: 12
    Obama Pledged Delegates: 13

  4. Results seem a little slow .. this from 538

    For what it’s worth… This sort of thing (plus the utter lack of results) was our first inkling that something was wrong in Iowa too. Of course, that does NOT mean that Nevada will follow the Iowa sequence of events going forward.

    She’s gotten a busy signal three times and now is asking the other volunteers here what to do. Another site lead tells me they’ve been getting a busy signal for like an hour too.

    — Megan Messerly (@meganmesserly) February 22, 2020

  5. Tom Nichols@RadioFreeTom
    I think this means Klobuchar is done, but I’ll just say that a Democratic Party that takes Tom Steyer more seriously than Klobuchar or Bullock or, for that matter, Castro or Harris is not a serious party.

    Jennifer Rubin@JRubinBlogger
    Replying to @RadioFreeTom
    Yes, agreed. And two 3rd and a 4th for Warren suggest she is out of runway. This will inure to Bernie’s benefit so I think this is a looming disaster. I have finally reached the point where I am more pessimistic than @RadioFreeTom

    The moderates need to group and decide which one stays in the race, with the others withdrawing. The 3 of them continuing to run just assists Sanders by splitting the moderate vote.

  6. Fess, Sanders is going very well among African Americans. Check out that exit poll you posted above. He’s behind only Biden and is gaining on him.

    Big chance of Sanders picking Warren, especially since his campaign has already done research into it…


    THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN of Sen. Bernie Sanders has researched the question of whether the same person can serve as both vice president and treasury secretary, according to three sources on the campaign. The person the Sanders campaign had in mind with the inquiry was Sen. Elizabeth Warren, his rival for the nomination and the bane of Wall Street over the last decade. The inquiry did not rise to the level of an official legal analysis undertaken by the campaign attorney.

    The answer is yes: There is nothing in the Constitution that bars the vice president from also serving as treasury secretary. Sanders has made no final decisions on a potential running mate or cabinet officers and did not direct the inquiry, nor was he involved in it, as he considers such questions premature and presumptuous. “No conversations are happening about any positions in a potential Sanders administration. Our campaign is focused on winning the nomination,” said campaign manager Faiz Shakir.

  7. Confessions:

    I could be going off of incorrect information/analysis here, but I’m pretty Sanders has heavily improved his support among African Americans since 2016.

    Nonetheless, I imagine his running mate would almost certainly be a person of color, young, a more “traditional” politician, and likely a woman too. It won’t be Warren – you can’t have a ticket with two white, liberal, New England septuagenarians.

    The real challenge will be finding someone who can appeal to moderates without scaring away the hardcore Bernie Bros – given Bernie’s age, there will be a lot of talk about what happens if his pick has to step into the presidency, and I reckon many of his more, er, devoted supporters will be very wary of the idea of Bernie winning, passing away mid-term, and having someone they perceive as a moderate establishment type taking over.

  8. CNN is reporting that some of the caucus sites are having issues calling in to report their numbers and have begun reverting to the backup plan, whatever that is lol. Apparently they’re getting busy tones on the phone line.

  9. “The real challenge will be finding someone who can appeal to moderates without scaring away the hardcore Bernie Bros”


    Warren is the perfect person for that.

  10. Early days but on 54% of the vote Sanders is garnering more support than all the candidates combined. It seems that, in Nevada at least, Democrat voters may not be too keen on centrist ‘ideals’.

  11. I’m going to make a (kind of) bold call here. Sanders will win the nomination, and with a clear majority of delegates too. The moderates are all getting in each other’s way, preventing one another from reaching delegate thresholds and coming out as a clear frontrunner, and it’ll be even worse for them when Elderly White Man #3 properly enters the race come Super Tuesday.

    My predication is that after Super Tuesday, Sanders will be way out in front, especially if – as current polling is suggesting – he pulls off an upset in South Carolina.

    As for the general election – who knows, really? Like basically all the Democratic contenders, Sanders has a decent lead on Trump in pretty much all head-to-head polling, but we all know how that worked out in 2016. Personally, I don’t think he’d be the disaster many are suggesting, nor do I think he’s the best placed to defeat Trump either. In my view, he’s a riskier bet than some of the others (but I’d certainly rate his chances higher than than the two tired old men, Biden and Bloomberg, the latter of whom demonstrated this week that Trump would very likely eat him alive in the general), but a risk that may well pay off. It all depends on the campaign, and the Democratic machine unambiguously solidifying behind the nominee, no matter who that might be.

  12. Asha:

    His polling with blacks and Latinos has improved. We’ll see if that’s markedly or just marginally.

    I agree it is looking like Sanders will win the nomination. My view is this is going to be a gift for Trump, who has been spruiking Bernie’s nomination for some time now, and who is clearly champing at the bit to face him as the Democrat contender.

  13. Tell me that Nevada isn’t going to be a repeat of the Iowa clusterfuck? Surely, they cannot screw this up again, right? R-right?

  14. There are two possibilities that may eventuate with a Trump vs Sanders contest. Neither of them are good.

    Scenario one is that Trump wins in a landslide as the electorate sees the Sanders contests as “too far to the left”. (In America, “left” means “left of Voldemort and Sauron”.) Independents go heavily for Trump, even more so than the last election, and Trump wins Minnesota, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, New Hampshire, and maybe even Maine, Oregon and Washington State.

    Scenario two is that Sanders isn’t seen as any more a liability as the other Democratic contenders and the final popular vote numbers are similar to the current polls. There is a small to moderate swing to the Democrats. Dems flip Michigan and Pennsylvania but Trump holds Wisconsin and at least one of Omaha and ME-2. Trump also wins Florida and Arizona barely. Trump is re-elected by a margin of 270-268 or a 269-all tie through having more states vote Republican (House picks president but each state only gets one vote) and a Republican senate majority, despite losing the popular vote by maybe 5% or more.

    Either way, WOE TO THE WORLD!

  15. Yep

    Jennifer Rubin@JRubinBlogger
    Sanders has much more appeal with nonwhite voters than prev thought. We were right this GOP 2016 all over – failure to challenge leader until it is too late. Mod candidates w little nonwhite support must leave for Biden to have a shot 4. Bloomberg must go neg vs. Bernie

  16. It’s insane how their phone line is clogged up. Wouldn’t they have a proper call centre setup that can handle a large volume of calls at once? Surely it can’t just be one person sitting on one phone taking all the calls. Please tell me that’s not it lol

  17. Confessions:

    I agree it is looking like Sanders will win the nomination. My view is this is going to be a gift for Trump, who has been spruiking Bernie’s nomination for some time now, and who is clearly champing at the bit to face him as the Democrat contender.

    Hmm.. I’m not quite so pessimistic, though I’d personally prefer someone like Klobucher or Buttigieg or even Warren. Certainly, Trump and his campaign do want Sanders to be the nominee – but whether or not they are correct to believe he’s easiest to beat is another thing. I still remember back when Labor were salivating at the prospect of Tony Abbott as opposition leader.

    It remains to be seen how damaging (or, possibly, helpful) Bernie’s unashamedly left-wing platform and self-identification as a socialist will be in the general. Going off of past US history and the general attitude to those sorts of things, you’d think he’d totally crash and burn, and yet… everyone, even the totally disengaged, would surely have known this about Bernie since 2016, he’s been attacked again and again for his “extreme” positions, but nonetheless remains in front of Trump in pretty much every head to head poll published in the last four years (as has nearly every other frontrunner, I’d add.) And, of course, so was Clinton in 2016 – by greater margins than Sanders – and we all know how that turned out. But, at the very least, I think it can be said with reasonable confidence that Sanders would be competitive against Trump, rather than facing a McGovern or Mondale-esque wipeout.

    I’ll say this, though – despite a number of misgivings I have about Sanders, I’d take him over Biden or Bloomberg any day of the week. Bloomberg, in particular, should not be allowed anywhere near the nomination, not after that abysmal debate performance.

  18. Trump is still cheering on Bernie.

    Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump
    Looks like Crazy Bernie is doing well in the Great State of Nevada. Biden & the rest look weak, & no way Mini Mike can restart his campaign after the worst debate performance in the history of Presidential Debates. Congratulations Bernie, & don’t let them take it away from you!

  19. “Trump is still cheering on Bernie.”


    Make no mistake, Sanders is Trump’s worst nightmare. That tweet shows he’s still trying to pretend he isn’t a corporate establishment elitist. Sanders is going to expose him for the fraud he is.

  20. Asha – the inevitable RNC and Trump attacks on Bernie, should he emerge as the nominee, will not be designed to get voters to switch their vote, but simply to stay at home on Election Day.

    Very little of the analysis that concludes that Bernie’s socialism is a known fact and therefore the anti-socialist scare campaign won’t work doesn’t take that into account. I simply can’t see middle America turning out for him: the missing 8 million democrat voters from 2-16 are likely to be joined by another 10 million Americans who did vote for Hillary this time around. There simply not enough BernieBros to counterbalance this.

    I’m sure Bellboy and young Nicky will be blaming the ‘corrupt’ DNC and centrist democrat politicians and operatives (in fact they are practicing their warm up line already) but it will be the voters – not the democrat machine – that will ultimately reject Bernie emphatically.

    A disaster.

  21. “ Make no mistake, Sanders is Trump’s worst nightmare”

    It’s good to see that your stash of Nyngan hooch survived the bushfires firefly. Can I have some?

  22. Oh good! The ideological lovechild of Oprah Winfrey and Eddie Obied has arrived to provide us with another sermon from Sussex St on the perils of socialism.

    The panic is reaching fever pitch now.

  23. Confessions:

    I agree it is looking like Sanders will win the nomination. My view is this is going to be a gift for Trump

    Wasn’t Trump winning the nomination a ‘gift’ for Hillary last time?

  24. Andrew__Earlwood:

    I simply can’t see middle America turning out for him

    ‘Middle’ America doesn’t vote for anyone. The proportion of people who didn’t vote in 2016 was higher than that who voted for any particular candidate. US elections are a different beast; you don’t need to win over the ‘middle’.

  25. Looking like a pretty appalling result for Steyer so far, given how much money he’s been throwing at Nevada. I imagine he’s going to hold out until South Carolina, where’s he’s still polling pretty respectably, but I don’t think its an exaggeration to suggest its basically all over for him.

  26. AE

    I simply can’t see middle America turning out for him

    You’re essentially saying centrists prefer Trump to Bernie.

    I hope centrists turn out for Bernie if he wins the nomination but I won’t be shocked if your prediction comes true.

  27. “ Middle’ America doesn’t vote for anyone. The proportion of people who didn’t vote in 2016 was higher than that who voted for any particular candidate. US elections are a different beast; you don’t need to win over the ‘middle’.”

    I’m sorry but with the republican base ‘a lock’ for Trump, then yes – demographically Democrats do need a large turn out from the middle.

  28. Bernie Sanders I argue is only candidate who can defeat Trump. Due to the nature of the electoral college, along with voter suppression as well and Trump campaign (also with help from the Kremlin) will definitely try to rig the election and waging the mother of disinformation campaigns. In addition, a substantial slice of those who voted for Trump in 2016 (especially in the rust belt states), would have voted for Sanders if he had been the Democratic nominee and are willing to do so in November if Sanders is the nominee.

    While the other candidates (expect for Bloomberg) will win more votes than Trump, however lose the electoral college due to these reasons above. Because their vote percentage is not going to be large enough to overcome them.

    In America at the 2018 mid-term elections the Democrats won 53.4% vs 44.8% (for the Republicans) of the national vote, that is in-spite of widespread voter suppression (targeted at Black and Hispanic Americans). The best Primary vote result in the last decade that the Federal Australian Labor Party has achieved was 37.99% (50.12% of the two party preferred vote) in the 2010. However because of widespread gerrymandering, the Democrats won 235 seats versus 199 for the Republicans.

  29. If the Dems win the Presidency I will be ecstatic. However, I fully expect Trump to win another term. I see it as inevitable. Not until the USA is brought to its knees, and its all people suffer enough will they change their voting patterns, or even get off their lazy bums and vote for their interests over that of the ruling money class.

    I want Sanders to win, so the voters have a clear choice. It is fork in the road time, with no comforting track in the middle.

  30. Bernie is the new Donald Trump.

    Despite warnings from a few people like me, after the Nevada Caucus, the Democratic Party, whether it likes it or not, now has Bernie Sanders as the clear front-runner for its presidential nomination. The similarities between where Sanders is now, and where President Donald Trump was in 2016, are so striking they almost defy belief.

    The ultimate outcome, no matter how it all pans out, will likely be worse for the country than even 2016 ended up being. And, contrary to what most so-called experts seem willing to admit, there is already likely very little anyone can do about it now.

    Sanders 2020 is so similar to Trump 2016 that it almost comical. Just consider that…

    Also portrays eerie parallels with other Dems and circa 2016 Republicans:

    Joe Biden = Jeb Bush the underperforming, establishment legacy candidate.
    Elizabeth Warren = Ted Cruz the ideological purist.
    Mayor Pete = Marco Rubio the young future of the party.
    Amy Klobuchar = John Kasich the sensible, working class moderate who would do well in a general election, but can’t win in an election that appeals to extremes.
    Mike Bloomberg = the GOP Establishment, meant to ride in and save the day from an unsuitable nominee.
    MSM = MSM, still playing the role of Trump Enabler.
    Putin = Putin, obviously.

  31. Andrew Earlwood:

    I don’t totally disagree with that analysis – its a genuine risk – but its also far from a certainty in my eyes.

  32. Listen to Bernie, seems to be promising the earth.

    Wonder how this is all going to be paid.

    Tell him he is dreaming.

    This is looney left politics that will not be acceptable to most USA citizens.

    Plus those wanting Warren as VP – seriously you need to understand the USA. Anyone who believes Warren should be his VP are deluded.

  33. Bernie Sanders is nothing like Jeremy Corbyn who was a flawed leader with some examples down below. If I were to pick an American political most similar to Corbyn, it would be Tulsi Gabbard.
    Jeremy Corbyn was indifferent to the antisemitism in his party, which led to one Jewish MP leaving the party.

    Bernie Sanders has not been an apologist for Hamas like Jeremy Corbyn has been. In addition Jeremy Corbyn has been willing to appear on both Russia Today and Press TV, that are propaganda channels for the regimes in charge of both these countries. Also, Corbyn was a bit soft on Putin, for example; questioning if the Kremlin had ordered the poisoning Sergei Skripal and his daughter

    Jeremy Corbyn wasn’t willing to oppose Brexit, which was at odds with many of his young adult supporters who ‘loved Corbyn but hate Brexit’

    Jeremy Corbyn has been an apologist for the Castro regime in Cuba, along with the Chavez and Maduro regimes in Venezuela.

    Bernie Sanders on the other hand is none of those.

  34. So far in Nevada the progressives have 63% of the vote, centrists 37%. Anyone in the anti-progressive (regressive?) brigade here prepared to even consider that they might have been just a little naive and delusional in their cult-like support of the establishment? Fair enough, I didn’t think so.

  35. The moderates need to group and decide which one stays in the race, with the others withdrawing. The 3 of them continuing to run just assists Sanders by splitting the moderate vote.

    I cant see Biden, Bloomberg or Buttigieg dropping out any time soon. Steyer probably wont either. Unfortunately it will be, IMO, two of the better candidates that will go first – partly because they know the others wont and they just wont get the funding to be serious contenders. If only those two teamed up.

    I wanted Biden to run last time. He didnt. I suspect he regrets that decision (talk of him being tapped on the shoulder…) and it will take a bulldozer to get him to pull out this time.

  36. Has the female vote been suppressed in this primary, or could it be that there are (and always has been) as many Bernie sisters as there are bro’s?

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