Later, her campaign issued this statement: "Hillary Clinton won the Nevada caucuses today by winning a majority of the delegates at stake. The Obama campaign is wrong. Delegates for the national convention will not be determined until April 19." The reference was to delegates to county conventions, the next step in the delegate selection process.
The chairman of the Nevada Democratic Party, Jill Derby, issued a statement and then a clarification on the back-and-forth. Her final word: She said Clinton's campaign is right about when delegates will be determined. But, she added, "that said, if the delegate preferences remain unchanged between now and April 2008, the calculations of national convention delegates being circulated by the Associated Press are correct."
Jon Ralston, an independent political analyst here, said the AP and Obama's campaign are "extrapolating to the national convention if all remains the same. Obama did very well outside Clark County and delegates are apportioned by congressional district — hence the delegate advantage. But this is all about perception now and Clinton will use the win going into South Carolina and Super Tuesday" on Feb. 5.
Though the Clinton camp had complained about culinary workers being strong-armed by union officials, many union members made their own decisions. Workers at the Bellagio hotel held up signs that said "I support my union. I support Hillary."
Clinton's pollster, Mark Penn, and campaign manager, Patti Solis-Doyle, sent a memo saying that despite Obama's "institutional advantages," Clinton had scored a broad victory.
Surveys of people entering caucuses "show she won the union vote, won across all income groups and won heavily among those around Las Vegas, sweeping Clark County. The Latino vote backed Hillary by over 3 to 1, and Democrats voted for her by a wide margin," they said.
Clinton also beat Obama among women.
Nevada dealt the most serious blow to former North Carolina senator John Edwards, who was in Georgia on Saturday. With nearly nine in 10 precincts reporting, he was below 4% — meaning there were very few caucuses at which he had support from at least 15% of those present.
"John Edwards is the underdog in this campaign, facing two $100 million candidates," Edwards campaign manager David Bonior said in a statement distributed by the campaign shortly after 6 p.m. ET. He said Edwards has no intention of ending his bid for the White House. "We're committed to making sure the voices of all the voters in the remaining 47 states are heard. The nomination won't be decided by win-loss records, but by delegates, and we're ready to fight for every delegate."
At the Bellagio, Edwards had eight people — compared to 271 for Clinton and 191 for Obama.
Both Obama and Bill Clinton, campaigning for his wife, made personal visits to the Bellagio. "I like him. I like what he has to say," Joyce Del Bosque, 42, a reservations clerk, said of Obama. "But I think experience has won me over." She caucused for Hillary Clinton.,
There were 520 Democratic caucus sites and 100 Republican sites throughout the state. Turnout in both parties was well above expectations. Democrats, who attracted 9,000 people to caucuses in mid-February 2004, reported turnout of more than 120,000. Republicans drew 11,000 in their last caucuses 20 years ago; this year they drew four times as many.