LAS VEGAS — Hillary Clinton held off Sen. Bernie Sanders to win the Nevada caucus Saturday, beating him by 6 points and solidifying her lead over Sanders in delegates.
The Associated Press called the race with Clinton ahead of Sanders by five points with 91 percent of precincts reporting. Clinton will receive 19 delegates and Sanders will receive 15.
— Sady Swanson (@sadyswan) February 20, 2016
“Three states down, 47 to go, so a lot of work ahead of us,” said Jennifer Palmieri, Hillary Clinton campaign communications director.
Caucusing in Nevada began at 11 a.m., but many waited in line for hours to ensure they could have their voices heard.
Deanna Montes-Deoca, 76 years old and a cocktail waitress at the Freemont Hotel for 44 years, caucused for Clinton at William E. Orr Middle School in Las Vegas. She said she supports Clinton because of her realistic policies and experience.
“Hillary is honest, she is full of integrity, full of experience, full of knowledge,” Montes-Deoca said. “She’s been there, she’s done it. I think she is the person to vote for.”
Clinton thanked her supporters, including the casino workers that took a break from work today to caucus for her.
“Every one of us has a role to play in the future we want,” Clinton said during her victory speech in a ballroom at Caesars Palace.
Clinton addressed the hot-button issue of wealth inequality and getting money out of politics, relating it to the vacant seat in the Supreme Court.
“We all want to get secret, unaccountable money out of politics,” Clinton said. “That starts with appointing a new justice to the Supreme Court who will protect the right of every citizen to vote, not every corporation to buy elections.”
Nevada was the first state to gauge which candidate would take the minority vote. Sanders took the Latino/Hispanic vote by four points, according to a press release from the Sanders campaign.
In an exit poll conducted by ABC News, Clinton took African American vote by a much larger margin — 74 percent to 24 percent.
With just this preliminary information and no solid results yet, Palmieri said Clinton seemed to appeal to a wide range of voters.
“It does seem she did well with African American voters, it seems she did well with Hispanic voters, but also with white voters,” Palmieri said. “She has worked hard for decades to be supportive of the African American community. It’s not something she just turned to.”
Vice President of the Human Rights Campaign JoDee Winterhof said that Clinton worked hard for this win and that it is Clinton’s hard work on LGBTQ rights that got her the endorsement of the HRC.
“We are thrilled with this win,” she said. “It’s a tremendous and well deserved win.”
Clinton said that the country needs a president who can address more than a single issue, most likely a jab at Sanders and the claim that he has too narrow of a focus in his campaign.
“If we listen to the heartaches of people around the country … It’s obvious we are not a single-issue country,” Clinton said. “We need more than a plan for the big banks. The middle class needs a raise.”
Clinton spoke to college students as well, saying that under her plan to cap payments and interest, people with student loan debt would not pay as much.
“You need help with the debt you already have,” Clinton said.
Japna Sethi, 24-year-old graduate from Northwestern University, said she became interested in Clinton’s policy before her presidential bid when she would speak out to encourage women to join STEM fields.
“(Clinton’s victory) hits the point that we already know she’s a strong leader and that she can bounce back (from the loss in New Hampshire),” Sethi said after Clinton’s victory speech.
This victory was good for momentum for the Clinton campaign, University of Southern California student Jay Patel said after Clinton’s speech.
“She’s very practical in her approach and that’s what the country needs,” Patel said.
The Sanders campaign chalked the results up as a victory because of how close the results were.
“Five weeks ago, we were 25 points behind and we ended up in a very close election,” Sanders said in his concession speech at the Henderson Pavilion.
Palmieri said the Clinton campaign will not be dismissing Sanders as a competitor anytime soon.
“He is a very strong candidate — he has a lot of committed supporters, and he is going to be a force throughout the primary process,” Palmieri said. “He’s a very serious competitor and this will continue to be a competitive primary.”
Next up for Clinton is the Democratic primary in South Carolina next weekend, where her poll numbers show her beating Sanders by a large margin.
Collegian News Editor Sady Swanson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @sadyswan.