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Hillary Clinton Wins Nevada Democratic Caucus

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Caucus goers line up for the Democratic caucus outside Libby Booth Elementary in Reno's Wells neighborhood.

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Nevada caucus results from the Associated Press:

5:30 p.m. -- A relieved Hillary Clinton savored her victory in the Nevada caucuses as she spoke to supporters Saturday afternoon.

"I want to congratulate Senator Sanders on a hard-fought race here," she said.

Nevada did not look like it would be a hard-fought race until recently. Clinton held a wide lead in the polls not long ago, but Sanders rode the momentum from his big New Hampshire win to make it close.

"I want to thank each and every one of you who turned out in every corner of this state with determination and purpose," Clinton said.

A short time later, Sanders told his supporters that the Nevada results give him confidence as he looks ahead to next Saturday's South Carolina primary -- and beyond.

"I believe, that on Super Tuesday, we have got an excellent chance to win many of those states," he told the crowd.

The Nevada Democratic Party says an estimated 80,000 voters caucused on Saturday. That's about 10,000 more than expected, but still well short of the 117,000 in 2008.

3:50 p.m. -- The Nevada Democratic caucuses did not go entirely smoothly.

Confusion reigned at a Reno elementary school that served as the caucus site for several nearby precincts.

In one precinct, the original head count (108) did not match the combined total of paper ballots cast (112, with Sanders at 66 and Clinton at 46). After arguments, shouting, and phone calls to campaign headquarters and the Nevada Democratic Party, the campaigns agree to award six delegates to Sanders and four to Clinton.

In another precinct, just indoors from the first one, Clinton supporters were so outnumbered by Sanders backers that Clinton was two caucus goers short of 15 percent -- the threshold to be considered "viable" and therefore eligible to win delegates. There were also two caucus goers who declared themselves undecided.

After more arguments and phone calls, the two undecided caucus goers were allowed to join the Clinton camp. That would have been enough to earn Clinton a delegate -- except one of her supporters had to leave early to get to work. And so Sanders earned all 14 delegates from that precinct.

"Someone had to go to work, they had a time constraint, and that made all the difference," 25-year-old Reno barista and Sanders supporter Rachel Henderson said afterwards, calling it "unfortunate."

3:00 p.m. -- The Associated Press is declaring former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the winner of Nevada's Democratic presidential caucus over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

With 77 percent of precincts reporting, Clinton holds a 52 percent to 48 percent lead.

"Bernie is offering a lot of things that are impossible," said 40-year-old Roy Bettencourt, a grad student who works in marketing. He caucused for Clinton at a Reno elementary school. "You can't raise taxes. You can't make states give out free education."

Clinton supporters were so outnumbered in this precinct that Sanders won all 14 delegates.

"He's the everyman," said 25-year-old barista Rachel Henderson, who backed Sanders at the same precinct. "He has consistently fought for people's rights."

But despite solid wins from Sanders in Reno and much of rural Nevada, Clinton's core strength in Las Vegas appears to have propelled her to victory.

2:26 p.m. -- The Associated Press has projected that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has defeated Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in Nevada's Democratic presidential caucuses.

Clinton has pulled out to a lead of just under five percent with about 60 percent of precincts reporting.

Clinton is winning by healthy margins in Clark County, the state's population center which includes Las Vegas. Sanders posted strong showings in the Reno area and many rural counties.

1:12 p.m. -- Caucusing began at noon. Capital Public Radio's Ben Adler reports from Libby Booth Elementary in Reno (via Twitter).

Nevada _Caucus _Booth _4-20160220-PAn argument breaks out at one of the Booth Elementary precincts. The original head count was 4 less than total paper ballots. Capital Public Radio / Ben Adler

Nevada _Caucus _Booth _3_20160220-P
"This caucus is called to order" Capital Public Radio / Ben Adler


Nevada _Caucus _Booth _2_20160220-P
The room filling up at Booth Elementary just before noon. Capital Public Radio / Ben Adler
11:00 a.m. -- Caucus doors are now open in Nevada.

10:10 a.m. -- As Republicans go to the polls in South Carolina to pick a presidential nominee, Democrats are caucusing in Nevada Saturday -- and it's expected to be a tight race.
For months, Hillary Clinton held a wide lead in the Silver State. Her supporters said that no matter what happened in Iowa and New Hampshire -- two states with relatively low minority populations -- diverse Nevada would be Clinton country.
That may no longer be the case. Bernie Sanders has momentum coming off his big win in New Hampshire, he's made inroads with African Americans and Latinos, and he's been outspending Clinton on TV ads.
Yet Clinton still has a stronger organization here, and although polling in Nevada is notoriously unreliable, she's seen has having a narrow lead. The Sanders campaign has said it believes it can win -- if it can find enough new caucus goers.
Overall turnout is expected to be well below the 117,000 Democrats who caucused in 2008.

Original post: Nevada's Democratic caucuses begin today at 11am.

Capital Public Radio’s Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler, who is in the Silver State to cover today's events, reports that turnout will be an important factor in what could be a close race between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. In Nevada, Democrats allow same-day registration.

Clinton and Sanders have been criss-crossing the state this week to drum up support.

Check in here for results as they come in.