Over 1,000 miles from where caucusgoers delivered his second consecutive early state victory, according to a projection by ABC News, Sen. Bernie Sanders celebrated with a rambunctious crowd in a San Antonio dance hall, showcasing his presidential campaign's broader ambitions as he detailed his progressive agenda for a much larger audience watching across the country. Bernie Sanders' lead in county convention delegates over Joe Biden has grown, with 50% of precincts reporting. Sanders still has 47% of county convention delegates, but Biden has dropped 4 percentage points to 19%. Pete Buttigieg currently sits in third with 15% and Elizabeth Warren is fourth with 10% of the vote.
Sanders took only a brief moment to bask in his Nevada caucuses win -- and chose to do so after first predicting he'd finish on top in the Texas primary in 10 days. The move wasn't simply a nod to the local crowd, but a continuation of his efforts the past eight days, during which he traveled between four Super Tuesday states -- plus Washington, which votes a week later -- around his Nevada schedule, knowing that his front-runner campaign can potentially build an insurmountable delegate lead should it continue its success that night.
"You know, based on what I have seen today in Texas, we were in El Paso. We're here now. Don't tell anybody -- don’t tell anybody, I don't want to get them nervous -- we're going to win the Democratic primary in Texas," he said. "The president gets very, very upset easily, so don't tell him that we're going to beat him here in Texas. And now I'm delighted to bring you some pretty good news."
"I think all of you know we won the popular vote in Iowa. We won the New Hampshire primary. And according to three networks and the AP, we have now won the Nevada caucus," he added. "In Nevada we have just put together a multigenerational, multiracial coalition which is going to not only win in Nevada, it's going to sweep this country."
Registered Democratic voters in Nevada poured into various sites on Saturday amid the "first in the West" caucuses -- the first diverse electorate to weigh in on the 2020 presidential race.
After a fiery Las Vegas debate last week, during which candidates' attacks on each other made clear a splintering Democratic field, the results could maintain momentum for Sanders, the campaign's front-runner, while also providing a boost for Joe Biden after emerging from Iowa and New Hampshire with lackluster results.
Among the four early states, South Carolina is the only one left between the campaigns and Super Tuesday, and momentum out of Nevada could reignite a campaign or cement a candidate's standing outside of the top tier.
Here's how the day unfolded. All times are eastern.
11:01 p.m. Sanders still in the lead
We now have 23% of precincts reporting for county convention delegates, and Bernie Sanders is holding his lead, with 46%. Joe Biden is still currently in second, with 24% of county convention delegates, and Pete Buttigieg is behind Biden, with 14%.
For the first and final alignments, slightly more of the vote is in, with 30% of precincts reporting. But Sanders is still leading with 33% in the first alignment -- the so-called "popular vote" -- and 40% in the final alignment.
9:49 p.m. Sanders leads with 44% of county convention delegates, Biden second with 25%
With 11% of precincts now reporting, Sanders leads the Democratic field, with 44% of county convention delegates.
Biden is currently in second, with 25% of county convention delegates. Buttigieg follows Biden, with 15%.
More of the vote has come in from Clark County in this latest batch, and more from rural portions of the state, like Humboldt County, which covers a portion of northwest Nevada, and Churchill County, which sits on the western half of the state east of Reno.
In Humboldt County, Sanders leads with 71% and Biden is in second place with 27%. In Churchill County, Sanders has 46%, and Buttigieg, Warren and Steyer are tied for second place, each with 12.5%.
ABC News' Kendall Karson reported.
8:39 p.m. Buttigieg congratulates, criticizes Sanders
Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg congratulated Sen. Bernie Sanders for a "strong showing" in the Nevada caucuses, but also immediately began to warn supporters about the risk of making him the Democratic nominee.
"I congratulate Sen. Sanders on a strong showing today, knowing that we celebrate many of the same ideals," Buttigieg said. "But before we rush to nominate Sen. Sanders, you know, a one shot to take on this president. Let us take a sober look at what is at stake for our party for our values."
Buttigieg focused nearly the entirety of his remarks on his opposition to nominating Sanders to the ticket and said his campaign is "moving on from the battle born state with a battle on our hands."
"Sen. Sanders believes in an inflexible ideological revolution that leaves out most Democrats, not to mention most Americans," he said. "I believe we can defeat Trump and deliver for the American people by empowering the American people, to make their own health care choices with Medicare for all who want it. Sen. Sanders believes in taking away that choice, removing people from having the option of a private plan and replacing it with a public plan whether you want it or not."
ABC News' Justin Gomez reported.
8:08 p.m. Sanders' lead strong over Biden
With 4% of precincts reporting, the Vermont senator -- projected as the winner by ABC News -- currently has 45% of county conventions delegates. At this point, Joe Biden is in a distant second with 19% of county convention delegates. Elizabeth Warren has now slipped to fourth at 12% from the last update, and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg sits in between the former vice president and the Massachusetts senator with 16%.
County convention delegates with 4% of precincts reporting:
- Sanders 45%
- Biden 19%
- Buttigieg 16%
- Warren 12%
- Klobuchar 4%
- Steyer 4%
8:05 p.m. Biden celebrates 2nd-place standing
Former Vice President Joe Biden clearly felt confident in his showing in the Nevada caucuses Saturday afternoon, saying he believes the contest marked a "fundamental change" in the 2020 race.
"Y'all did it for me! Now we're going on to South Carolina and win and then we're going to take this back!" Biden exclaimed as he took the stage in Las Vegas, with one audience member shouting, "The comeback kid!"
Biden, accompanied on stage by his wife, Jill, and granddaughter, Finnegan, told the crowd that while the press is ready to "declare people dead," his campaign is "alive" and "coming back."
"Well, look, you know, I know we don't know the final results yet, but I feel really good. You put me in a position. You know, the press is ready to declare people dead quickly, but we're alive and we're coming back and we're going to win," Biden said
Biden, who bet big on diverse voting states to help turn around his lagging campaign after disappointing finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, told the crowd he hoped the strong finish here would continue in the upcoming contests -- and put him on a path to the White House.
"I want to get right to the point here," Biden said. "I think we're in a position now to move on in a way that we haven't been until this moment. ... We’re gonna win in South Carolina, and then Super Tuesday, and we are on our way."
ABC News' Molly Nagle reported.
7:38 p.m. ABC News projects Sen. Bernie Sanders as the winner
Based on our analysis of the vote in the Silver State so far, ABC News projects that Sanders will win the Nevada caucuses.
Following projections, Sanders' campaign manager Faiz Shakir tweeted "we won again! 3 for 3."
"And our vote margin continues to grow, while we expand our diverse coalition. Awesome job by our Nevada team," he wrote. "Now let's go win South Carolina!"
7:05 p.m. President Donald Trump congratulates Sanders early as Nevada Dems wait for results
President Donald Trump sent his congratulations to Sanders on Saturday evening, though final results have not come in and ABC News has yet to project a winner.
"Looks like Crazy Bernie is doing well in the Great State of Nevada," Trump tweeted, talking down the other candidates and adding "Congratulations Bernie, & don’t let them take it away from you!"
He also tore down former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg -- who is not on the Nevada ballot -- for his first debate performance.
ABC News estimates Trump will receive all 25 pledged GOP delegates from the state -- as the Republican party canceled its Nevada caucus, voting to bind their delegates to the president.
ABC News' Quinn Scanlan reported.
6:50 p.m. Nevada Democratic Party starting to report results
With 1% of precincts reporting and based on results from the Nevada Democratic Party, Sen. Bernie Sanders is still leading among county convention delegates with 29%.
His closest competitor is Sen. Elizabeth Warren with 19%.
This data is from the state party, and only represents a fraction of the total vote Edison has reported to ABC News for the first and final alignments.
County convention delegates with 1% of precincts reporting:
- Sanders 29%
- Warren 19%
- Biden 17%
- Buttigieg 17%
- Klobuchar 9%
- Steyer 7%
County convention delegates are what ABC News will use to project a winner.
ABC News' Kendall Karson reported.
6:35 p.m. Some Nevada precinct chairs report long hold times, busy signals
Ruben Murillo, a three-time precinct chair leading a caucus in Henderson, wrapped up his caucus and told ABC News that it "went much better than expected."
"Yay, we're not Iowa," he added.
Murillo attributed the success of his caucus to early voting, which reduced the crowd size at his precinct. He also said the caucus calculator "really worked well" and was "self-explanatory" and in confirming results.
Among the three caucuses he's overseen, this was the "most smooth," he said.
But while he only had to wait 15 minutes to report his results through the secure hotline, a few other precinct chairs at his site said they waited at least 30 minutes.
Another a precinct chair in East Las Vegas, Jeff Culler, told ABC News he got a busy signal when he tried to call in his results.
"They opened a second line, but it was still 20 minutes on hold," he said, before adding that he had no other issues in reporting.
The party is "already processing caucus results and we've provided expanded capacity for the hotline to accommodate the influx of calls from precinct chairs," Molly Forgey, communications director for the Nevada Democratic Party, told ABC News in response to the precinct chairs' complaints.
ABC News' Kendall Karson and Meg Cunningham reported.
6:10 p.m. With 10% of precincts reporting, Sanders maintains lead in Nevada caucuses
With 10% of precincts reporting, Bernie Sanders is leading the rest of the Democratic field, and picking up more voters during realignment, showing his strength as both Nevadans' first initial preference, and as a candidate who can win over voters who may not have backed him during the first round.
The results via Edison, which collects data for many news organizations, are now at 7% of precincts reporting for only the first alignment and the final alignment. All three sets of results, including the county convention delegates, which is what ABC News will use to project a winner, are expected to be released by the party at the same time from each precinct.
Among the key counties where most of the vote is coming in, Clark and Washoe counties, Sanders is dominating. In one of the more rural counties, Douglas, the current leader is Buttigieg. Douglas was one of few western counties where Sanders lost to Clinton in 2016, and this cycle Sanders is currently standing in second to the former mayor.
ABC News' Nicole Gallagher, Quinn Scanlan and Kendall Karson reported.
6 p.m. Reporting confusion continues to delay results
Edison, a company that helps collect data for ABC News and other networks, reported confusion is delaying some results from being reported.
“We have received at least 6 anecdotal reports from our people at caucus sites that there are precincts where confusion about the counting rules and/or incorporating the early vote, is delaying the reporting of results at these precinct caucuses," Edison representatives said.
ABC News’ Rick Klein reported.
5:15 p.m. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar left Nevada to cast early vote in home state
According to a campaign spokesperson, Sen. Amy Klobuchar left Las Vegas shortly after speaking to staff and volunteers at a “get out the caucus” kickoff event this morning.
She flew home to Minneapolis to cast her vote early, the spokesperson told ABC News.
Minnesota is a Super Tuesday state.
ABC News' Lissette Rodriguez reported.
4:50 p.m. Still no votes in from Nevada precincts
While caucuses began about an hour and 45 minutes ago, no votes have come in yet out of Nevada, ABC News Political Director Rick Klein reported.
Though Sanders' supporters have dominated the room in several caucus sites where ABC News was present, he noted. In one site, Sanders was the only viable candidate.
Reminder: Candidates need to get at least 15% in an individual caucus to walk away with anything, and at least 15% statewide or in a congressional district to get delegates out of the Nevada caucuses.
ABC News' Rick Klein and Alex Stone reported.
4:15 p.m. Entrance polls show less participation from racial and ethnic minorities
Based on ABC analysis of preliminary entrance polls, there has been a decline in the participation of racial and ethnic minorities.
Nonwhites accounted for 35% of caucusgoers, compared with 41% in 2016.
Hispanic caucusgoers joined young and very liberal Nevadans in backing Bernie Sanders in the state’s Democratic caucuses, and he won broad support among those focused on two of his signature issues: health care and income inequality.
Sanders’ 28% support from blacks improved on his 22% versus Clinton in 2016. Blacks, by contrast, were Joe Biden’s single best group in Nevada. Yet Biden fell back among other voters.
As in the two previous states, caucusgoers far and away cited health care as their top issue -- 43% placed it first among four issues tested -- and Sanders won 39% support in this group. He won an even larger share, 51%, among the majority who said they support a government-run, single-payer health system.
Another issue was less successful for Sanders: His support lagged among the majority of caucusgoers (64%) who said they care more about defeating Donald Trump than supporting the candidate who agrees with them on major issues.
ABC News' polling director Gary Langer contributed.
3:27 p.m. Buttigieg says to supporters in Las Vegas: "We think we're gonna have a great day here."
Former South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg stopped in at a Las Vegas caucus site this afternoon, remaining optimistic about a strong finish in Nevada.
"Our goal is a strong finish and a lot of people supporting us," he said. "I think the percentage that we need to hit is the kind of thing that the pundits will work out. And our focus is making sure we have a very strong support."
He focused his attacks on Sen. Bernie Sanders and the potential that he will break away with a large delegate lead.
“You know, this is critical. I mean, we could wake up in 10 days with Senator Sanders with a prohibitive lead, or we could wake up on the road to a unified party, and obviously, that’s our focus," he said.
ABC News' Justin Gomez contributed.
3:20 p.m. Lack of volunteers could present problems
The caucuses might only be just getting underway, but a lack of volunteers at various caucus sites, according to a Democratic presidential campaign in Nevada, could potentially muddle the party's efforts to run a smooth process.
One observer at a Las Vegas area site believes that the site only has enough volunteers because early voting helped alleviate some of the turnout on caucus day.
"I am at a site that houses multiple precincts and lines are mostly short due to early voting. Lots of candidates and campaign volunteers. Only enough NV Dems because of small turnout," said Seth Morrison, a former site lead who is only observing a caucus in Las Vegas today after quitting his role over the state party's nondisclosure agreements.
CBS News first reported that the campaigns were informed by party leaders about a "deficit of volunteers."
Prior to caucus day, the Nevada Democratic Party touted that they "have over 3,000 volunteers, including over 300 site leads who are actively receiving robust training for early vote and Caucus Day."
The state party today continues to assure that they have "thousands of volunteers," before adding that it is "common" for campaign volunteers to help run precincts.
"We have been recruiting and training volunteers all the way through this morning to ensure we have the capacity we need and we are confident in having the necessary volunteer numbers to cover caucus sites today. We have thousands of volunteers working hard across the state today and this is not occurring at the vast majority of sites and precincts," said Molly Forgey, communications director for the Nevada Democratic Party. "It's common and not unusual for campaign volunteers to help with running precincts on Caucus Day -- this happened in 2016 and in 2008."
One Nevada Democratic Party official also told ABC News that the party has "the coverage that we planned for." According to the party, there is an average of eight volunteers per caucus site so roughly more than 2,000 volunteers across the state."
"As of half an hour ago, more than 1,000 volunteers had already logged in to use the caucus calculator," the official added.
In the days leading up to caucus day, some of the precinct chairs ABC News spoke with said that beyond the angst over the technology, a shortage of trained volunteers was a top concern.
ABC News' John Verhovek, Kendall Karson and Meg Cunningham reported.
2:45 p.m. A more diverse electorate turns out
Based on ABC News analysis of preliminary results from the Nevada Democratic caucus entrance polls, a more diverse and more liberal electorate than in Iowa or New Hampshire is participating in the Nevada Democratic caucuses, albeit with a shared priority -- defeating President Donald Trump in November.
Whites account for 65% of caucus-goers in preliminary ABC News entrance poll results, compared with about 90% in Iowa and New Hampshire. Hispanics make up 18% of Nevada participants; blacks, 10%.
It can matter in vote preferences: Bernie Sanders won 53% of Hispanics and 49% of whites in a two-way contest with Hillary Clinton in Nevada in 2016, but just 22% of blacks, a core Democratic group in which he consistently fell short that year.
Even if Nevada is more diverse than the earlier states, today’s preliminary results mark a decline in the participation of racial and ethnic minorities in these caucuses -- nonwhites total 35% of caucusgoers, compared with 41% in 2016. That may change as additional results come in.
Among other groups, independents account for 19% of caucus-goers in these early results. They were a key group for Sanders in 2016, when he won 71% of Nevada independents, compared with 40% of Democrats -- another pattern than persisted in subsequent primaries that year.
Age and ideological groups also may be key. Sanders won a thumping 82% of caucus-goers under age 30 in 2016, and 62% of those 30-44, while his support from seniors plummeted to 24%. He was especially strong with young voters in Iowa and New Hampshire this year, as well.
Sanders also owes his Iowa and New Hampshire results this month disproportionately to voters who identified themselves as very liberal. They accounted for a quarter of the electorate in Iowa, a fifth in New Hampshire -- and they make up 30% of Nevada caucus-goers in these preliminary entrance poll results. That compares with 33% in Nevada in 2016.
Labor may be another group to watch; 24% of caucus-goers are from union households, compared with 16% of New Hampshire primary voters on Feb. 11. Union households accounted for 28% of Nevada caucus-goers in 2016.
Whatever the differences with the previous states, there’s alignment on goals and issues. Sixty-four percent in preliminary Nevada entrance poll results say they care more about supporting the candidate who can defeat Trump than one who agrees with them on major issues. That’s similar to the results in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Also, 62% in Nevada support a government-run, single-payer health care system, again similar to Iowa and New Hampshire results, with a majority for one of Bernie Sanders’ signature issues (along with Elizabeth Warren). And, also like the previous contests, 43% call health care the top issue in their vote, out of four that were tested.
Nevada caucusgoers made up their minds comparatively early; just 15% say they finally chose their candidate today or in the last few days, compared with 36 percent in Iowa and 51 percent in New Hampshire.
The Nevada entrance poll measure caucus-goers’ initial preferences; final results can differ, since those whose candidate falls short of 15% get a second choice.
The entrance poll includes a sample of early-caucus participants.
ABC News considers preliminary exit poll results on the proportion of early participants to be unreliable; that estimate awaits additional data.
The botched vote count in the Iowa Democratic caucuses seems not to have fazed most Nevada caucus-goers: Eighty-two percent say they expect the votes to be counted correctly.
ABC News' pollster Gary Langer contributed
2:17 p.m. DNC chair confident in Nevada precinct captains
In a quick gaggle at the Bellagio Hotel caucus site in Las Vegas , Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez told reporters that precinct chairs have received adequate training that continued as late as Friday.
Perez downplayed how approximately 1,000 voter preference cards cast during the early-voting stage this week were nullified because they lacked a signature. He also said he thought the voters had been reminded that "no election is perfect."
He said the party needed to have a real conversation about caucuses after the debacle in Iowa but that the party, from his perspective, can't just mandate they go away.
ABC News Deputy Political Director MaryAlice Parks reports
2 p.m. Nevada caucus by-the-numbers
Amid the second caucuses of the primary season, and the first nominating contest in the west, eight Democratic contenders are vying for 36 delegates.
The candidates on the ballot are former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, businessman Tom Steyer and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Only Democratic caucuses are held today, after the Nevada GOP voted last year to forgo a 2020 presidential caucus as part of a broad effort by the Republican National Committee to give "undivided support" to the president.
Caucusgoers will head to their designated precincts to declare their pick for president beginning at noon.
To keep up with the results, read more here.
Early voter turnout shattered expectations
Unlike Iowa, Nevada, for the first time, offered three days of early voting -- Feb. 15-18 -- in an effort to make the caucuses more accessible.
More than half of those early voters were first-time caucus-goers, the party said, a testament to the increased enthusiasm in the third official contest of the primary season.
About 75,000 Democrats participated in early voting, the party said.
By the close of the early voting period, 2020's turnout in the Silver State had already reached nearly 90% of 2016's total caucus turnout of roughly 84,000.
On top of that, those votes already had been cast by the time the candidates took the debate stage in Las Vegas last Wednesday.
Diverse voters will finally weigh in
Nevada is the first diverse state to weigh in on choosing a nominee. Sanders has enjoyed fairly strong support from communities of color, although former Vice President Joe Biden is typically seen as the front-runner when it comes to such support across the nation.
A January Washington Post-Ipsos poll, showed that although Biden leads his rivals by more than 2 to 1 overall among black Americans, he trails Sen. Bernie Sanders 42% to 30% among black Democrats ages 18 to 34.
Biden's support among black voters has also declined, dropping from 51% last month to 32% now, according to the ABC News-Washington Post poll released on Feb. 19. A poll released this week by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal shows Biden and Sanders with roughly equal support among African American voters.
According to U.S. Census data, 29% of Nevada's population is Hispanic or Latino, and 10% is black or African American.
In addition to those diverse voters, 14% of the state's workforce is unionized, teeing up what could be an interesting showdown among those who've been courting the union vote.
That faction of the party has come into question in recent weeks as Sanders has undergone a rocky back-and-forth with the powerful Las Vegas-area Culinary Workers Union, which distributed fliers to its members criticizing Medicare for All, after they spent years picketing for the private insurance that protects the union's 60,000 members.
Biden got a boost on Thursday, netting an endorsement from Latino Victory Fund, his first from a national Latino organization. He's spent his time on the trail touting his diverse support and arguing that without that backing, it would be impossible to beat Trump.
"I've been saying from the beginning, I think the most critical thing that has to happen is we have to elect someone in fact who can run in the purple states, win Pennsylvania, win in Florida, in places we haven't won before," Biden said Monday.
Electability remains the focus of the Democratic field, despite Sanders' front-runner status
Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has two more delegates than Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, but Sanders is considered the front-runner after a strong showing in Iowa and New Hampshire, and polls that put him safely ahead of Democratic rivals.
Wednesday night's Democratic debate in Las Vegas was the last chance for the candidates to try and draw on the differences among the field.
Buttigieg took the stage on the offense, going after Sanders for "polarizing" the country.
"We have a responsibility to energize and unify," Buttigieg said in Las Vegas after the debate. "For Sen. Sanders to say it's not enough unless you go further -- if you're not for that revolution, you must be for the status quo -- that's a picture most Americans don't see where we fit."
Within the feud of moderates versus progressives, the candidates have honed their pitches on who can beat President Donald Trump in November. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren took a veiled dig at Sanders during the debate, arguing that voters are worried about gambling on a revolution.
"Democrats want to beat Donald Trump. But they are worried. They are worried about gambling on a narrow vision that doesn't address the fears of millions of Americans across this country who see real problems and want real change. They are worried about gambling on a revolution that won't bring along a majority of this country," Warren said.
She went after her other competitors, as well, attempting to prove to voters that she could take on Trump on the debate stage.
"Amy, I looked online at your plan, its two paragraphs. Families are suffering. And they need a plan," Warren said, criticizing Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar's health care plan.
Her campaign touted her post-performance fundraising numbers, saying she'd raised $5 million in less than 24 hours after the debate.
She has continued to play the long game on the trail after lackluster performances in Iowa and New Hampshire, calling on the fact that 98% of the delegates needed to nab the nomination this summer have yet to be allocated. Despite that, she'll need a strong showing in Nevada to prove that her campaign belongs in the top tier.