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. AE, I honestly don’t see any harm being done to the democrat chances in November by having a large number of candidates generating a lot of healthy debate.

  2. With 100% counted turnout came in at 105K, around 15% (I note that 4K supporters of non-viable candidates declined to re-align, so total final alignment votes totaled 101K)

    After slightly underperforming his polling in IA and NH, Sanders was about 1% over the final polling averages here (538)

    In a sign that Nate Silver may actually know what he’s doing, his complex Primary Forecast model was within a percent of Sanders outcome, predicting 35% initial/39% final vs. actual 34%/40%

  3. Thanks Ray (UK).

    There was much talk before Nevada that Sanders had a 30% vote ceiling. Seems that he has pushed that out a bit, but not by a lot, with a first preference vote of 34%. Meanwhile, polling for upcoming states has him mostly in the high 20s. In a crowded field, this may well be enough for him to him, and also to possibly scoop up a large amount of delegates. But it’s not going to make him an unassailable favourite, particularly if the other candidates quickly consolidate behind one or two others. Just a clearly as the view that Sanders is now the undisputed front-runner, it’s also the case that around two-thirds of Democratic voters aren’t necessarily buying what he’s selling.

    Hopefully the Super Tuesday votes next week will clarify the state of play more than it is at the moment, either by solidifying the non-Sanders vote into just a couple of rivals, or by pushing Sanders well in front.

  4. Hugoaugogo

    South Carolina on Saturday will be interesting, I think Biden will finally get his first ever Primary win after all his previous attempts over the years

    The 538 model has been switching back and forth between Biden and Sanders, currently Biden has the edge. There was a very good poll for him yesterday with a 15% lead (and 2 others with him barely ahead) and the averages have him +7

    Super Tuesday could go either of the ways you indicate, if I had to guess it will be your latter option of Sanders pushing well ahead, mainly on the back of California

  5. Big A Adrian
    “AE, I honestly don’t see any harm being done to the democrat chances in November by having a large number of candidates generating a lot of healthy debate.”

    Me too. Made me proud to be a Democrat.

  6. Poll: Biden and Sanders lead Democratic field in South Carolina

    Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont top the Democratic presidential candidates in South Carolina, according to a new poll from NBC/Marist released Monday.

    Biden, with 27% support among likely voters, and Sanders, with 23%, lead over businessman Tom Steyer — the only other candidate to reach double digits in the poll — with 15%. Following are former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg with 9%, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts at 8%, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota with 5% and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii with 3% support among likely voters.

    The poll was conducted in its entirety before Sanders won the Nevada caucuses on Saturday.

    The Monday poll release marks the third survey out of South Carolina in recent days with Biden and Sanders within the margin of error of each other, showing that the state — which was once led by Biden — is now a more competitive race.

    A Fox News poll in January found Biden leading South Carolina significantly, with 36% support among likely voters, but he’s now lost some of that support to Sanders.

    According to the NBC/Marist poll, black voters in South Carolina still favor Biden. Around 35% of those voters support him for the nomination, while 20% back Sanders and 19% are for Steyer.
    Likely voters in the South Carolina Democratic primary are split on whether they’d prefer a candidate who comes closest to them on the issues (47%) or someone who has the best chance to beat President Donald Trump (44%).

    Trump’s approval among all adults in South Carolina stands at 51% approving and 41% disapproving.

    The NBC/Marist poll was conducted February 18 through February 21 among 2,661 adults in South Carolina with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points. The survey includes 539 likely Democratic primary voters in South Carolina with a margin of error of plus or minus 6.0 percentage points.

    Safe to say that’s much closer than Biden would be comfortable with. He simply has to win SC after talking it up as his firewall state for so long. I’m not sure a narrow win helps him much either. He really needs something convincing to build confidence in his campaign among the establishment going forward before Bloomberg enters the race.

  7. Bellwether

    I did weigh in on that model a while back (I think on the NH thread), it’s currently very bouncy

    I think the bottom line is we don’t have enough data yet – there’s a mountain of assumptions re winner’s bonuses-polling surges-trends etc. built into the model

    In the abstract, there are several brave or bold predictions within it currently – for example:

    Florida – forecasting Sanders winning with 29% when he is currently struggling in polling there, running third at 17%

    Georgia – forecasting Sanders winning with 34%, currently he is running second at 23%

  8. Ray(UK)

    You’re right, no-one really knows. Psephology is a pointless ‘science’. Nate Silver probably stuffed up and has the chart upside down.

  9. The mayor of tiny Burlington, Vt., was back from Nicaragua and eager to share the good news.

    The country’s Soviet-backed government — forged via armed rebellion — was cutting infant mortality, reducing illiteracy and redistributing land to peasant farmers. Its Sandinista leaders, branded terrorists by the U.S. government, impressed him with “their intelligence and their sincerity.”

    Three years later, Bernie Sanders was fresh off the plane from Moscow, reveling in the beauty of the land and the contentedness of the people.

    And a year after that, he returned from Cuba having tapped into a revolutionary spirit “far deeper and more profound than I understood it to be.”

    With Sanders now surging to the top of the Democratic presidential field, those three-decade-old impressions introduced a volatile new element in the race Monday as rivals reacted to Sanders’s decision to defend his remarks, not disclaim them.

    Asked about his favorable reviews of Fidel Castro’s Cuba in a “60 Minutes” interview that aired on CBS on Sunday night, Sanders said the communist leader deserved criticism for “the authoritarian nature” of his government — as well as praise where it was due, including for “a massive literacy program.”

    “Is that a bad thing? Even though Fidel Castro did it?” he asked.

    The comments offered instant fodder for opponents who had already been sharing the old clips and highlighted the risk to a candidate with a track record of sympathy for communist and socialist governments that is unlike any other recent Democratic nominee.

    Rivals seized on the brand-new video to portray the senator from Vermont as naive — a possible preview of attack lines in Tuesday night’s debate and of the barrage Sanders is likely to endure in the general election if he makes it that far.

    “Fidel Castro left a dark legacy of forced labor camps, religious repression, widespread poverty, firing squads, and the murder of thousands of his own people,” former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg tweeted. “But sure, Bernie, let’s talk about his literacy program.”

    Former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg compared Sanders to President Trump, tweeting that after four years of giving dictators a pass, the United States needs “a president who will be extremely clear in standing against regimes that violate human rights abroad.”

    Sanders has promised to remake the party in his far-left image as a “democratic socialist,” and he argues that his vision for a political revolution is best exemplified by thriving democratic, first-world societies like Denmark.

    Yet in the 1980s, during the dying days of the Cold War, Sanders indulged a fascination with far more disruptive and divisive strains of a socialist ideology he has embraced throughout his adult life.

    Returning home from visits to some of the United States’ most avowed enemies, Sanders offered some criticism but also plenty of praise in Vermont community television recordings. Many of the videos were kept in storage for decades — including during his 2016 campaign — and, even after being posted online, have remained relatively unknown.

    Now, Sanders’s comments are coming back to life as opponents say his warm feelings toward his hosts decades ago make him vulnerable to attack and reveal a soft spot for left-wing despots.

    “If people are going to vote for socialist candidate Bernie Sanders, they need to understand what socialism means historically. And it’s not Scandinavia,” said Marion Smith, executive director of the congressionally authorized Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.

    Smith recently tweeted a clip from a 1988 news conference in which Sanders lauds the Soviet Union for its chandelier-filled transit stations and its “palaces of culture.” Smith demanded an apology for what went unmentioned.

    “He turned a blind eye to what was known about the ongoing systematic human rights abuses, the suppression of religious and ethnic minorities, the jailing of dissidents,” Smith said. “He was very clearly joining the ranks of the useful idiots who believed in the propaganda of the Soviet Union and carried it to the West.”

  10. oh gosh, what do you know? Yet another washington post article raining on Bernie’s parade. Its starting to look like a joke.

  11. Or the WaPo could just be reporting historical comments of the current Democratic Party front runner because, you know, people might be interested. They obviously didn’t get the memo that criticism of Bernie is forbidden.

    In all seriousness, the media is doing Sanders a favour by running with this stuff now, because sure as hell that Trump and the GOP are going to have it front and centre of their messaging come the autumn. Better to get it out there now and give him time to develop a tactic for dealing with it.

  12. “Better to get it out there now and give him time to develop a tactic for dealing with it.”


    He already has. All this kind of nonsense was trotted out by the establishment against Bernie in 2016.

  13. Perhaps, but whatever was thrown at him four years ago is nothing compared to what Trump and the GOP dirt factory will do. And saying things like, “sure Castro has imprisoned thousands of his countrymen, but gee he has a great literacy program” is probably not going to cut it in the white heat of an election campaign against one of the most ruthless negative campaign machines (aka the Republican Party) going around. I will note that these sorts of historical gotcha games never make much difference to what I think, but I’m not a swinging and/or low information voter, nearly all of whom probably weren’t paying the slightest attention to things the Democratic Party was signalling about Sanders in 2016.

  14. For those saying that Trump’s going to say outrageous things about Bernie, should he win the nomination, and that this will be sufficient to dash Bernie’s chances of winning – I am wondering… how many not-already-rabid Trump supporters who would never vote against Trump anyway do you think there are left to dupe with such outlandish claims? You can’t double-dip from the same pool of people.

  15. Mr Newbie – the answer to your question is probably unquantifiable, but I’d hazard a guess that it’s a number in the millions, who may well be concentrated in several swing states. Anyway, we underestimate the power of negative campaigns at our peril. John Kerry looked like a perfectly plausible Presidential candidate back in 2004, until his previously celebrated military career was flipped on him by the GOP dirt machine, to the extent that his greatest strength was turned into a fatal weakness. The Republicans are ruthlessly evil at this sort of stuff, and Sanders’ past positions will give them plenty of material. Now, Sanders may yet be able to rise above the smear campaigns, but he’s going to have to be better at it than his recent attempts suggest.

  16. So Sanders considers that the evil Cuban plan to roll out “a massive literacy program” had some merit. How very dare he! Back to the present day I’d say it’s going to come down to Biden and Sanders and the possible wildcard Bloomberg. The others have probably done their dash.

  17. Hugoaugogo @ #318 Tuesday, February 25th, 2020 – 11:13 pm

    Mr Newbie – the answer to your question is probably unquantifiable, but I’d hazard a guess that it’s a number in the millions, who may well be concentrated in several swing states. Anyway, we underestimate the power of negative campaigns at our peril. John Kerry looked like a perfectly plausible Presidential candidate back in 2004, until his previously celebrated military career was flipped on him by the GOP dirt machine, to the extent that his greatest strength was turned into a fatal weakness. The Republicans are ruthlessly evil at this sort of stuff, and Sanders’ past positions will give them plenty of material. Now, Sanders may yet be able to rise above the smear campaigns, but he’s going to have to be better at it than his recent attempts suggest.

    Maybe, just for once in recent history, the Democrats will find a nominee that is actually capable of fighting back against the Republicans. It isn’t as if there’s not copious amounts of material to bash them around the head with. Simply because Obama and Clinton failed to do that doesn’t mean it’s not possible.

  18. Bellwether – if the Dems want a street fighter, they’d probably be better off going with Bloomberg, who has shown that he is more than willing to get down in the gutter with Trump. But for what it’s worth, I’m not so sure that’s the way to go. As a very general rule, the Left usually does better when we inspire, rather than when we try to out-smear the Right. In the words of Michelle Obama, when they go low, we go high, and it’s probably the case that the Left can never be as nasty as the Right, as on the whole Lefties are nicer people.

    As an aside, I’m not sure why you think that Obama “failed” to fight back – he’s been easily the most successful Democratic President in the last 50 years, with two smashing victories, and probably the best one since FDR, despite the shit thrown at him from the Right. I’d say that demonstrates that he fought back pretty well. Of course, Obama was a singularly remarkable politician, and to my mind there is no one in this year’s race who comes close to him.

    I think that Sanders does have a positive story to tell, and can do the inspire thing, so long as he gets his messaging right. But my point above was that his initial response to Castro/ Russia/ Nicaragua smears wasn’t particularly good, and that he will need to improve on those responses if he doesn’t want the musing of 30 years ago to completely derail his campaign. For sure, in reality it shouldn’t really matter what he said 30 years ago, and his point about Castro’s literacy drives was a reasonably one to make in historiographical terms. But he is not operating in “reality”, he’s dealing in politics, and as we all know, sometimes it’s the little things that can end up defining a candidate in the public mind (think Mark Latham’s handshake, Hilary Clinton’s emails, or Mitt Romney’s “corporations are people”). Politics is often not reasonable or fair – it’s politics.

  19. Only watched a couple of minutes of it so far, but Bernie does not seem to be very popular with the live crowd in the Dem debates. Biden being well received, along with Liz and Bloomberg. Haven’t heard from the others yet.

  20. Quite a firey debate at times. Sanders got a bit more attention this time and handled it well. I thought it was interesting to note that Warren was more muted in her attacks against Bernie than the others were and instead went hard after Bloomberg again, which she is exceptionally good at doing.

  21. Bloomberg literally just said “I bought them” when talking about the seats he flipped with his own money. Or at least he almost did, stopping himself when he got to about “I bought…” – changing it to “I got them”.

    Wow, Bloomberg’s more and more resembling a walking train wreck of a candidate.

  22. Big A Adrian – yes, the more we see of Bloomberg, the less he appears. On the other hand, Biden had a decent debate today, though it’s all hanging in a strong showing in SC for him. He really needs a win.

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