Written by Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns
Sen. Bernie Sanders claimed a major victory in the Nevada caucuses Saturday that demonstrated his broad appeal in the first racially diverse state in the presidential primary race and established him as the clear front-runner for the Democratic nomination.
In a significant show of force, Sanders, a liberal from Vermont, had a large lead over his nearest rivals in early tallies, and The Associated Press named him the winner Saturday evening.
His triumph in Nevada, after strong performances in Iowa and New Hampshire, will propel him into next Saturday’s primary in South Carolina, and the Super Tuesday contests immediately thereafter, with a burst of momentum that may make it difficult for the still-fractured moderate wing of the party to slow his march.
Sanders, speaking to jubilant supporters in San Antonio, trumpeted what early results suggested would be a landslide victory.
“We have just put together a multigenerational, multiracial coalition, which is not only going to win in Nevada it’s going to sweep the country,” he said, predicting another victory in Texas next month.
Sanders’ success, and the continued uncertainty over who is his strongest would-be rival, makes it less clear than ever how centrist forces in the party can organize themselves for a potentially monthslong nomination fight. The moderate wing is still grappling with an unusually crowded field for this late in the race, the lack of an obvious single alternative to Sanders and no sign that any of those vying for that role will soon drop out to hasten a coalescence.
As results were being counted Saturday night, former Vice President Joe Biden, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, billionaire investor Tom Steyer and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota were competing for what would clearly be a distant second-place finish.
With the full order of finish still in doubt, Buttigieg used his caucus-night speech to deliver a stern warning about the implications of nominating Sanders. Buttigieg said Sanders’ agenda lacked broad support and asserted that the senator did not give “a damn” about the swing-state Democrats in Congress who are scared of running with him on the same ticket.
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