Bernie Sanders Scores Decisive Win At 2020 Nevada Democratic Caucuses, And Sanders benefited from an organized labor movement in Nevada that, as in much of the rest of the country, is fiercely divided when it comes to Sanders’ signature policy of Medicare for All. The state’s largest local teachers union, the Clark County Education Association, endorsed Sanders in part because the union has struggled to protect its health care benefits and is less wary of a transition to a single government plan. Nevada’s SEIU Local 1107, which unlike CCEA did not endorse in the race, also condemned the Culinary Union’s critical treatment of Medicare for All, arguing that pitting union health care plans against Medicare for All created a “false choice.”
At the Rancho High School caucus site in northeast Las Vegas, Sanders swept to victory in both precincts, while no other candidate won any delegates.
Rather than focus on the high-minded policy debates over health care and legislative pragmatism that have dominated the national media narratives, caucus-goers who expressed their preference for Sanders there tended to refer broadly to his commitment to expanding access to health care and education, and immigration reform. Several also cited what they see as his authenticity, honed over decades of progressive activism.
“He has been fighting for our rights since he was younger,” said Allison Rangel, a restaurant hostess.
Rodrigo Loera, a warehouse manager, initially expressed a preference for Buttigieg. But after Buttigieg failed to reach viability in his precinct, Loera switched to Sanders.
“I like his ideas … the way that he wants to change the way that the country is going right now,” Loera said, singling out Sanders’ plan to reform the health care system.
The Nevada caucuses went notably more smoothly than the first caucus-style contest of the cycle. Iowa’s Democratic Party is recounting votes from 10 precincts in the state after the apparent leaders in that race, Sanders and Buttigieg, both requested limited recounts.
Nevada is also shaping up to be somewhat of a comeback for Biden. After disappointing showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, where he came in fourth and fifth respectively, Biden said his strength would show through when communities of color began casting their votes.
Biden, who drew criticism for leaving New Hampshire well before results came in, held a caucus day celebration in Nevada after voting, unlike Sanders, who spent the day campaigning in Texas — a Super Tuesday state.
Biden took the opportunity to celebrate a rebound performance, even though it was still unclear how he would place. “Y’all did it for me!” he told a crowd of supporters at an IBEW union hall in Las Vegas. Someone shouted back: “The comeback kid!”
“We’re in a position now to move on in a way that we haven’t been until this moment,” Biden said.
Biden now heads to South Carolina, where he has been polling ahead of the field ― although Sanders has been closing the gap in South Carolina as well.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) stepped into the spotlight during the Democratic debate in Las Vegas earlier this week, grilling her opponents and demonstrating she’s still got her fighting spirit. She trained an especially fiery line of questioning on former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has decided not to compete in the first four states of the Democratic primary. She heads to South Carolina without any clear victories to her name.
The stakes of the caucus results are especially high for Buttigieg, who had hoped a strong performance in the state would prove his appeal beyond the predominantly white states of Iowa and New Hampshire.
As of Saturday night, a full picture of how Buttigieg fared with the more diverse electorate had yet to emerge. Still, the former mayor sounded a triumphant note in a speech to supporters in Las Vegas, before pivoting to a lengthy attack on Sanders. He reiterated his criticism that Sanders’ Medicare for All plan would deprive Americans of the option to keep their private insurance coverage. Buttigieg began airing television ads on Friday in South Carolina that blast Sanders by name for “forcing over 122 million Americans off their private plans,” including 22 million seniors covered by Medicare’s private variant, Medicare Advantage.