Nevada Democratic caucus is too early to call as Sanders leads initial voting: NBC News

People wait in line to vote on the final day of early voting for the upcoming Nevada Democratic presidential caucus on February 18, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Mario Tama | Getty Images

The Nevada Democratic presidential caucus is too early to call Saturday afternoon as entrance polls indicate Sen. Bernie Sanders has a significant lead in the initial round of voting, according to NBC News. 

Nevada Democrats are choosing their presidential favorites in a test of whether 2020 White House hopefuls can extend early success — or earn enough support to even stay in the race.

Voters gathered to caucus at 3 p.m. ET in the third nominating contest of this year’s Democratic primary. Nevada awards 36 pledged national delegates proportionately, based on congressional district level and statewide results.

The state has drawn significant attention, and not only because voters of color get their first real chance to make their preference known this cycle. Nevada has faced questions about whether it can report results smoothly, following the disastrous Iowa caucuses earlier this month riddled with apparent technological and reporting errors.

After the presidential field winnowed in recent weeks, voters will choose among only seven Democrats in Nevada:

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • Former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg
  • Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
  • Billionaire activist Tom Steyer
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on his way to top-three showings in multiple national polls, is not on the ballot in Nevada.

Sanders, who left the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary about even with Buttigieg in the national delegate race, has led recent polls of Nevada. His campaign hopes strength with young Latino voters can help to propel him to victory in the caucuses.

Buttigieg and Klobuchar, coming off top-three finishes in New Hampshire, hope to show they can have success in a state where voters of color make up a significant share of the electorate. Meanwhile, Biden and Warren hope to inject life into once promising presidential campaigns.

The state Democratic Party has said roughly 75,000 people voted early in the caucuses. They picked a favorite and at least two more candidates in case their first choice does not meet the 15% viability threshold needed in most precincts. The state holds more than 2,000 precinct caucuses.

Voters whose first choice does not meet the level of support needed can change preference after the initial round of caucusing.

About two-thirds, 65%, of caucus voters are white, according to entrance polling data. Another 18% identified as Hispanic or Latino, while 10% identified as black. Sanders appeared to have a massive edge among Hispanic or Latino voters in entrance polls.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

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