They don’t call it Hillary Country for nothing. After a spirited contest that grew tighter in the weeks leading up to Nevada’s caucuses on Saturday, Clinton’s early and deep investments in the Silver State paid off to give her her first solid victory of the 2016 presidential primaries. Clinton won the Saturday caucuses by a five-point lead over Bernie Sanders.
In the end, Clinton took away 19 delegates to Sanders’s 14 by winning key caucus sites, including Latino-heavy precincts on the east side of Las Vegas. The Clinton campaign also won all six of Nevada’s special at-large caucus sites set up at casinos on the Las Vegas Strip for the hotel and casino workers who, along with other hospitality workers, make up the backbone of Nevada’s workforce.
Clinton’s volunteer, organizing, and even lawn-sign and sticker advantage over Bernie Sanders was apparent Saturday morning at three caucus locations in North Las Vegas, a city that’s more than a quarter Latino. At Desert Pines High School, two dozen Hillary volunteers and supporters in blue Hillary shirts gathered for an early firing-up at 10 am. Among the smattering of early-bird caucus goers who waited in the sharp morning sun was Mamo Woldegiorsis, 60, and his wife Timitu Siyoum, 53, who said the two immigrated from East Africa 30 years ago. “He’s a nice guy, the other guy, but I choose Hillary,” Woldegiorsis said. His wife concurred. There was not a Bernie Sanders supporter or volunteer at the school an hour before caucusing got under way.
“We get teased about Latino time, but I’ve already answered questions for people in Spanish and it’s 50 minutes early,” said Alma Candelaria, who flew in from Washington, DC, to volunteer for the Clinton campaign. At nearby Rancho High School, Sanders volunteers and supporters were outnumbered by Clinton supporters, who laid out a breakfast of flautas, pico de gallo, salsas, and guacamole and tiled the cinderblock wall across the street with Hillary signs.
Forty minutes before the doors were set to open, Clemencia Morales stood fourth in line to register to caucus. “I had been registered Republican, but I said I want to switch to Democrat and they told me to get here early,” Morales, a 55-year-old grandmother of two who has lived in the United States for 28 years but only became naturalized just last year. She waited in line holding a door sign that Bernie Sanders canvassers had left at her home, and a postcard she’d received from the campaign.
“In my heart, though, I want Hillary. She has a lot of trajectory and history.” She credited her coming out to caucus to the Sanders campaign, though. “They’re the only one who contacted me. That surprised me,” she said. “They’re real interested in me and my people, that’s why I’m here.”