Bernie Sanders claimed a decisive victory in the Democratic presidential caucuses in Nevada on Saturday, while Joe Biden appeared headed to a second-place finish that would give his struggling campaign new hope.
Sanders, a senator from Vermont, rode a wave of backing from a diverse coalition of young and middle-aged voters, Latinos, union members and white college-educated women to a win in Nevada, showing signs of expanding support for his front-running campaign beyond his longstanding core.
“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,” the 78-year-old told cheering supporters in San Antonio, Texas.
“We have put together a multi-generational, multiracial coalition that is going to not only win in Nevada, it’s going to sweep the country.”
Biden, the former vice president, had been in desperate need of a strong showing after poor finishes in the first two contests in Iowa and New Hampshire for the party’s nomination to face Republican President Donald Trump in the November election.
He was a distant second to Sanders with 19 percent of the vote with 10 percent of the precincts reported but ahead of former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, in third with 16 percent.
“The press is ready to declare people dead quickly, but we’re alive and we’re coming back and we’re gonna win,” Biden told supporters in Las Vegas.
Buttigieg congratulated Sanders, but then told his supporters in Las Vegas that Democrats should stop and reconsider nominating Sanders, a self-identified democratic socialist that he portrayed as an ideologue.
“We can prioritise either ideological purity or inclusive victory. We can either call people names online or we can call them into our movement. We can either tighten a narrow and hardcore base or open the tent to a new, broad, big-hearted American coalition,” Buttigieg said.
New York billionaire Mike Bloomberg, who dominated the political conversation this week after a poor debate-stage debut, was not on the ballot. He is betting everything on a series of delegate-rich states that begin voting next month.