- On Saturday, February 22, Nevada caucusgoers will decide the third primary contest of the 2020 election.
- Results are now starting to come in from Nevada’s 1,988 precinct caucuses, which officially kicked off at noon P.T. and 3 p.m. ET.
- The recent catastrophe in the reporting of the Iowa caucus results means that Nevada officials will be cautious to avoid a similar meltdown, meaning we may not have final results for some time.
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Nevada Democratic caucus live results
Nevada will report three things. The first is the results of the first ballot, or alignment:
The second is the final ballot results, where the votes for non-viable candidates will be shifted to their preferred viable candidate.
Third is the county delegate equivalent, which will be converted into national pledged delegates.
These will update live over the course of the day as we get new results.
Catch up on live coverage from the caucuses:
What’s at stake in the Nevada caucuses:
Nevada only accounts for 36, or 0.9% of the delegates allocated throughout the nomination process, but holds disproportionate importance by virtue of being the first state with a significant non-white population to express its voting preferences.
The first two states in the process, Iowa and New Hampshire, are both over 93% white. In Nevada, however, just 49% of the population is non-Hispanic white, compared to 29% that is Hispanic or Latino of any race, 10% that is African-American, and 9% that is Asian.
Of Nevada’s 36 national pledged delegates:
- 23 are allocated proportionally between the state’s four congressional districts. The first district gets five delegates, and the three others are allocated six delegates each.
- 8 at-large and 5 PLEO (party leader and elected official) delegates will be decided and allocated based on the statewide popular vote.
Like in most other states, candidates must break 15% of the vote in a given district or voting area to win any delegates at all.
Unlike a regular primary, Nevada is a caucus, meaning that people will gather in communal locations to express their preferences for president. The caucuses have two rounds of preference expression, or alignments, meaning caucusgoers have an opportunity to shift their support.
Caucusgoers whose first-choice candidate does not meet the 15% viability threshold in the first alignment can either switch their support to a candidate who is viable, try to make their chosen candidate viable on the second round, or be uncommitted, meaning the final results could be unpredictable.
The results of Saturday’s Democratic primary are likely to be particularly crucial for Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden, both of whom are hoping for a strong comeback after their fourth- and fifth-place finishes in New Hampshire.
Who does the polling say is ahead?
The state of Nevada and its presidential caucuses, in particular, are notoriously difficult and expensive to accurately poll.
As Vox recently reported, a higher-than-average proportion of the electorate in Nevada works in the casino and nightlife industry, meaning that their population has higher turnover and is more fluid than in most states, giving pollsters a small base of registered or likely voters to work with.
And many of those with jobs on the Vegas Strip or in other nightlife or hospitality-related careers work night shifts or outside the bounds of a typical nine-to-five schedule, making them much harder to reach by telephone.
On top of that, Nevada only started using presidential caucuses instead of primaries in 2008, meaning that pollsters have somewhat limited data with which to build accurate models and weights for their caucus surveys, a problem compounded by the fluctuating population in Nevada.
According to FiveThirty’s aggregated tracker of Nevada polls, Sanders currently holds a comfortable lead, polling at 30% on average with the other candidates mostly far behind. On the day of the caucuses, Buttigieg is at 15.3%, Biden is at 14.4%, Warren is at 12%, Steyer at 10.2%, and Klobuchar is at 9%.
But the additional unpredictability of caucus turnout, the ranked-choice system used in early voting, and the re-alignment process in the caucuses themselves mean that the final result could be quite different from what initial polls indicate.
While Nevada was once a battleground state, it’s been swinging into solid Democratic territory for the past several election cycles. Former Democratic nominees President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton comfortably carried the state in the 2008, 2012, and 2016 general elections, and five out the state’s six congressional representatives are now Democrats.
In 2016, former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton won the Nevada caucuses with 52.6% of the vote compared to 47.3% for Sen. Bernie Sanders.