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Early Results Point to Significant Lead for Sanders in Nevada
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=53423"><span class="small">Adam Edelman, NBC News</span></a>   
Saturday, 22 February 2020 15:58

Edelman writes: "The Nevada Democratic caucus on Saturday is too early to call after precinct locations closed their doors, according to NBC News."

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders greets supporters during a rally. (photo: Juan Figueroa/AP)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders greets supporters during a rally. (photo: Juan Figueroa/AP)

Early Results Point to Significant Lead for Sanders in Nevada

By Adam Edelman, NBC News

22 February 20

A new early-voting system, high turnout and a never-before-used digital tool have contributed to fears of Iowa-like chaos.

he Nevada Democratic caucus on Saturday is too early to call after precinct locations closed their doors, according to NBC News.

Bernie Sanders has a significant lead in the initial preference results based on early entrance polls, NBC News projected.

Sanders' projected lead in voters' initial preference came as doors at caucus sites across the state closed promptly at 3:00 p.m. ET (12:00 p.m. local time).

The states's caucuses, the third contest in the 2020 Democratic primary, are the first test of candidates' support among a more diverse electorate, and Democrats across the nation are closely watching to see who voters choose — and hoping the event doesn’t resemble the disaster that struck Iowa’s nominating contest earlier this month.

NBC News' projections come amid high turnout in the contest. The Nevada Democratic Party announced this week that about 75,000 residents participated in early voting. By comparison, total Democratic turnout was about 84,000 for the 2016 Nevada caucus, when there was not early voting. In 2008, when there also was not early voting, turnout was 118,000.

Heading into the contest, the Vermont senator was way ahead in two prominent Nevada polling averages. According to a RealClearPolitics average of recent polling in the state, Sanders had 32.5 percent support, compared to 16 percent for former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Vice President Joe Biden. According to’s polling average, Sanders had 30.5 percent support, compared with 15.3 percent for Buttigieg and 14.4 for Biden.

According to early results from the NBC News Entrance Poll, Sanders saw a groundswell of support from young, liberal voters in Saturday’s Nevada Democratic caucuses as well from the state's Latino voters.

Sanders is overwhelming his rivals among the state’s youngest caucusgoers, capturing the votes of two-thirds of those aged 17 to 29. The Vermont senator is also the clear favorite of Latino Democrats, winning about half of their votes. And as in previous contests, Sanders is garnering wide support from voters describing themselves as “very liberal.” Roughly half of these caucusgoers named him their first choice. He’s also winning half the votes of participants who favor replacing private insurance with a single government plan.

The actual caucusing will conclude within the hour, and official results could come in as early as 4:00 p.m. ET (1:00 p.m. local time).

But, politics watchers, citing the debacle in Iowa, aren’t necessarily counting on a smooth report.

That’s because Nevada, like Iowa, is introducing in this year’s caucuses several new elements that many experts believe will cause issues for precinct volunteers on the ground.

Caucuses are run by state political parties that rely entirely on volunteers. Among the elements that could contribute to complications in Nevada are: A new early-voting system, high turnout and a never-before-used digital tool being used to process results.

During an early-voting window from Saturday through Tuesday (a new feature for the Nevada caucus), there was a ranked-choice system in place. Early voters had to mark their first choice and at least two additional choices, so that their votes can be realigned if their top choices don't make the cut. The early votes then get routed to the voter's home precinct, so those votes will be counted alongside neighbors who are caucusing in person on Saturday.

On Saturday, however, the voting in the Nevada caucuses will proceed much like Iowa's did. At most Democratic caucus locations, candidates must have support from at least 15 percent of caucusgoers in each precinct to be considered viable. Once all the attendees finish their first alignment, those who supported candidates who met the viability threshold are locked in and cannot change their preference. Those who supported nonviable candidates can realign with a viable candidate in the second round.

With those results, a formula awards delegates to viable candidates by precinct. Candidates have to hit the 15 percent threshold both in congressional districts and statewide to receive a share of the state's delegates. There are 36 pledged delegates at stake in the state.

The Nevada Democratic Party, however, said it will be using a digital tool they are calling a "caucus calculator" to help process the results. According to state party officials, the tool is a Google Forms program that has been pre-loaded with early vote results specific to that precinct. It's also pre-loaded with formulas that will be used to calculate delegate allocation.

Party officials have repeatedly said that nothing that was used during the Iowa caucuses — including the smartphone app that caused a significant delay in reporting results due to a "coding issue" — will be used during the Nevada caucuses. Officials also said they had independent security experts test the process, but could not say what the testing looked like. If the iPads fail for any reason, the volunteers will use paper backups.

Caucus volunteers will call in results to the state Democratic Party via a "secure, dedicated hotline."

Complicating matters is an expectation of high turnout — meaning the sheer amount of work to be done will be enormous — along with the question of how secure the iPads and the digital tool they contain are.

In anticipation of problems, the Democratic National Committee is going to extra lengths to try to avoid a breakdown in the caucus process that could delay the reporting of results on Saturday.

Nevada Democrats have hired a professional call center with 200 paid operators and dedicated reporting lines to help take in results from caucus sites around the state, diverging from Iowa where lightly trained volunteers manned the phones and reported chaos and jammed phoned lines.

The Democratic National Committee also dispatched some three dozen staffers to the state to help with everything from volunteer recruitment to technical assistance, while another team in Washington will assist with data processing. And DNC Chairman Tom Perez, who stayed away from Iowa on caucus day, will be on the ground here Saturday.

Perez, however, refused earlier this week to commit to releasing the results of the caucus Saturday after the contest concluded, telling The Associated Press he prized accuracy over speed. "We're going to do our best to release results as soon as possible, but our North Star, again, is accuracy," Perez said.

Regardless of any potential complications, Saturday’s caucuses could end up being a knockout round for several candidates who have held on through the first two nominating contests in predominantly-white Iowa and New Hampshire.

Polls showed Sanders to be the front-runner heading into Saturday, with Biden, Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Tom Steyer and Amy Klobuchar, all in the hunt. Mike Bloomberg, surging in national surveys before a rocky debate performance this week, is skipping the first four states and won't be on the ballot here.

The state also marks a critical test of each candidates' strength with non-white voters.

Participants in Saturday's Democratic caucuses in Nevada are much more racially diverse than voters in any presidential contest so far this year, early results from the NBC News Entrance Poll show.

Seventeen percent of Democratic caucusgoers are Latino; 10 percent are black; and 34 percent in total are people of color. That’s a huge leap in diversity from the Democratic electorates in Iowa (where people of color made up just 9 percent of voters) and New Hampshire (11 percent).

Latinos form a large part of the electorates in delegate-rich states like California and Texas, which vote on Super Tuesday on March 3. Black voters have propelled every Democratic nominee to the prize since 1992. your social media marketing partner