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Supporters listen as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at a rally at Springs Preserve on Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

Your Nevada 2020 election newsletter. Please read, forward and subscribe.

Hello, and welcome to Indy 2020, a biweekly newsletter focused on the 2020 election in Nevada. Now that the caucus is over, this newsletter will be going on hiatus until campaigning in Nevada picks up again. But be sure to subscribe and tell your friends so they can join us when we return.

Well, we made it! I was trying to do the math and I think, conservatively, I’ve been working somewhere in the ballpark of 96 hours a week since the beginning of the month, written some 40-plus stories and done some two dozen TV and radio hits. I am incredibly sleep-deprived and so ready for the world’s longest nap, but it’s been a rewarding experience and I’m grateful to all the Indy’s loyal readers for following along — and to my colleagues for helping me out on the 2020 beat this last week.

This newsletter will be a truncated version of our usual format — without the usual campaign nuggets and down ballot news — so apologies in advance for that. But we’ll go through some things to think about post-caucus as we move forward into South Carolina’s primary next week and Super Tuesday after that.

You know the drill. Email any tips, thoughts, questions, comments, suggestions and who you think the Baby Yoda to Mike Bloomberg’s Mandalorian is to [email protected]. Without further ado, a download of the recent 2020 happenings in Nevada.


The results are in: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ win on Saturday wasn’t a huge surprise, but the margin was. He received 46.8 percent of delegates to the county convention with a 26.4-percentage-point margin over former Vice President Joe Biden, who came in second with 20.4 percent. Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg came in third with 13.9 percent, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren fourth at 9.8 percent, California billionaire Tom Steyer fifth at 4.6 percent and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar at 4.2 percent

This means Sanders should leave Nevada with 24 delegates, Biden with nine delegates and Buttigieg with three. The delegate math is kind of complicated, but essentially you have to clear 15 percent statewide in order to qualify for two types of delegates, known as at-large and PLEO (Party Leaders and Elected Officials) delegates, and only Sanders and Biden were able to do that. Buttigieg’s three delegates come from the pool of delegates allocated based on congressional districts — he came in second in the 2nd Congressional District (Northern Nevada), notching him two delegates, and third in the 3rd Congressional District (mostly suburban Clark County), netting him another one.

This tweet thread from Geoffrey Skelley over FiveThirtyEight breaks it all down.

So how did Bernie win? Mainly, a lot of early and smart organizing, and he had the money to do it. By Caucus Day he had more than 250 staffers on the ground, nearly double the size of the second largest team. (Biden had about 130 staffers here as of Caucus Day.) That allowed Sanders to both devote staffers to organizing in smaller pockets — i.e. Muslims for Bernie, Native outreach efforts and a final push for Culinary Union members — as well as just blanket the state. I sat down with Sanders’ team yesterday to talk about their final get-out-the-caucus strategy, which wasn’t so much nuance as brute force.

“One thing that’s up that’s a major trap about a caucus is people end up twisting themselves up, trying to figure out the puzzle and the strategy of all of it,” Peter Koltak, a senior adviser to the campaign, told me. “At some point it’s like if you hit hard everywhere, then you’re going to win.”

More on that from me here.

Nuggets from entrance polls: There is so much interesting information out of the entrance polls for Nevada’s caucus. Sanders won almost every single demographic: those aged 17 to 64, Latinos, white voters, women, men, Democrats, independents, first-time caucusgoers and previous caucusgoers, those with and without a college degree and union and nonunion households. Biden only won black voters, those 65 and older and those who oppose Medicare for all. If you want to explore this more, the Washington Post has a good article that sums it up in a really easy to read way.

An end to the caucus? By all accounts, Nevada’s caucus went relatively smoothly on Saturday — especially compared to Iowa’s caucus. For one, the Google Forms-based calculator used to transfer the results of early voting back to caucusgoers’ home precincts to be counted alongside their neighbors’ presidential preferences on Caucus Day appeared to work. There were some isolated reports of errors with the tool — my colleague Daniel Rothberg reported from Sparks High School that at one precinct the iPad reported zero realigned caucusgoers in the early vote — and other issues, including the late delivery of paper lists of early voters to some precincts, which caused some precincts not to check for double voters.

Had it been a close race, there might have been more fretting over these errors. So far, the only campaign to have actively complained about them is Buttigieg’s team, as I first reported yesterday. (The campaign sent the letter on Saturday just before midnight, at which point it appeared that Biden and Buttigieg were neck-and-neck for second in the race.)

All the same, former Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, the architect of Nevada’s early caucus, called for all states to switch to primaries on Sunday.

I explored the ups and downs of what might very well have been Nevada’s last caucus in this piece, which published today.

Moving forward: So what happens now? Well, Sanders’ bump in Nevada is buoying him in South Carolina, a state where Biden had long held a lead. The latest polls have him at an average of about 21.4 percent to Biden’s 26.8 percent. But all eyes are on Super Tuesday, where Sanders could build an insurmountable lead.


The results story: In case you missed our results story, the final updated version is here. In it, a look at how each Democratic presidential hopeful did and how they addressed their wins and losses on Saturday night.

Our Caucus Day live blog: I know the caucus is well over by now, but my colleagues did a fantastic job running the live blog on Saturday. I’d like to give a shout out to all of them — Jackie Valley, Kristyn Leonard, Jazmin Orozco Rodriguez, Joey Lovato, Shannon Miller, Michelle Rindels, Riley Snyder, Tabitha Mueller, Luz Gray, Daniel Rothberg and Jacob Solis. Please take a look at their excellent work here. (They also did a great live blog on Friday ahead of the caucus, which you can read here.)

Precinct 1612: On Saturday, I embedded myself within one precinct at Durango High School to observe the caucus from start to finish. Things went relatively smoothly, except for a minor hiccup with figuring out how to orient the iPad and a minor scuffle between the precinct chair and an observer, who tried to interject during the caucus process. But if you want to see how the caucus is generally supposed to work, I’d recommend checking out my tick-tock on the process.

The rural Nevada impact: Daniel Rothberg and Tabitha Mueller did an excellent job with this story looking at how support in rural Nevada can turn the tides in the caucus. Even though the caucus is over, this is really important context to have as you look at the county-by-county results, which show Buttigieg won Douglas, Pershing, Nye and Lincoln counties and Steyer won Mineral County. Sanders won all of the other counties.

Trump in town: My colleague Jackie Valley followed around President Donald Trump for two days in Las Vegas, including his appearance at a Hope for Prisoners graduation on Thursday and a rally on Friday.

Biden on Obama-era deportations: Biden, more than a month after hinting his opposition to President Barack Obama’s controversial deportation policy at a town hall in Las Vegas, walked back those comments in an interview with me on Friday. More on my chat with him here.

Some caucus photo essays: Indy photographers fanned out across the state to observe the caucus process on Saturday. They got some fantastic shots that are really worth checking out. We also put together a photo essay of candidates making their final pitches to voters ahead of Saturday’s caucus here.

And so many other stories: If I listed all of the stories we’ve written in the last several weeks long, you’d never finish this newsletter! So if you’re interested, please check out the rest of our coverage — from the debate to outside spending in Nevada — here.


  • Warren’s supporters struggled to make up their minds in Nevada (Slate)
  • After his big Nevada win, is anyone going to be able to beat Bernie Sanders? (BuzzFeed News)
  • Sanders wins big with Latino voters in Nevada (PBS NewsHour)
  • Takeaways from the caucus (Washington Post)
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