Broad-based support across age, racial and ideological groups propelled US Senator Bernie Sanders to a dominant victory in Nevada’s Democratic caucuses, tightening his grip on the front-runner spot in the race to find a challenger to US President Donald Trump.
Former US vice president Joe Biden appeared headed to a badly needed second-place finish in Nevada after poor showings earlier this month in the first two nominating contests in the Democratic presidential race ahead of the Nov. 3 election.
Sanders’ triumph on Saturday in the first racially diverse state in the campaign suggested he was reaching a broader coalition of Democratic voters with his unapologetic message of social and economic justice, including his signature pledge to provide universal healthcare for all Americans.
However, for Biden and other moderates who argue Sanders is too liberal to beat Trump and who have been trying to blunt his momentum, the Nevada results made the job much harder.
“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,” Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, told cheering supporters in San Antonio, Texas.
With 50 percent of the precincts reporting, Sanders had 47 percent of the county convention delegates in Nevada.
Biden was a distant second to Sanders with 19 percent, ahead of former South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg, in third with 15 percent.
US Senator Elizabeth Warren, who had been looking to jump-start her campaign after poor finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, trailed in a disappointing fourth with 10 percent.
US Senator Amy Klobuchar and activist billionaire Tom Steyer were well back at 5 percent and 4 percent respectively.
Entrance polls showed Biden led among African Americans with 36 percent, followed by Sanders with 2 percent.
Voters poured into more than 250 caucus sites around Nevada, where Sanders was aided by strong support from the six in 10 voters who said they backed a government-run Medicare for All, the Edison entrance poll showed.
The entrance poll showed Sanders led in Nevada across all age groups except for those older than 65.
About 54 percent of Latino voters said they backed him, while 24 percent of college-educated white women and 34 percent of those who have a union member in their families supported him.
He also won with college graduates, and was the top pick of voters who consider themselves independents.
He was also favored over Biden among voters whose top priority is defeating Trump in November.
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