With the Nevada Caucus countdown now just hours away, here’s a look at where the field stands on the precipice of this wild west showdown where anything can happen as polling hints at last-minute shifts. Sen. Bernie Sanders remains the top contender as his Nevada numbers shot up dramatically following his win in New Hampshire. He remains the candidate to beat and will likely be coming away with a victory Saturday night in Nevada.

The real battle is probably for the second and third place spots which may help determine the “not-Bernie” candidate with the best momentum heading into South Carolina on Feb. 29.

Nevada Democratic Caucus
 Check-in at 10 am PT, caucuses begin at 12 pm PT
Registration: Same-day registration allowed
Where To Vote: Early-Vote LocationsCaucus Day Locations
 48 (36 pledged, 12 unpledged)
Allocation: Proportional
15% (A candidate must receive at least 15% to win a delegate)

The most recent poll numbers give Pete Buttigieg a boost into the second-place spot, though Joe Biden lingers not far behind, and Elizabeth Warren is still in the hunt, as is Klobuchar:

KLAS/Emerson Poll of Nevada Caucus Voters
Conducted Feb 19-20 | Source

  • Bernie Sanders – 30%
  • Pete Buttigieg – 17%
  • Joe Biden – 16%
  • Elizabeth Warren – 12%
  • Amy Klobuchar – 11%
  • Tom Steyer – 10%
  • Tulsi Gabbard – 2%

The KLAS/Emerson poll is the most recent and the only polling data out which encompasses some time frame after the Nevada Democratic debate which took place on Wednesday.

For reference, the other more recent numbers came right after the New Hampshire primary but show largely the same look for the race. The pollster, Data For Progress, is a partisan polling firm.

Data For Progress (D) Poll of Nevada Caucus Voters
Conducted Feb 12-15 | Source (PDF)

  • Bernie Sanders – 30%
  • Elizabeth Warren – 16%
  • Pete Buttigieg – 15%
  • Joe Biden – 14%
  • Tom Steyer – 10%
  • Amy Klobuchar – 9%
  • Tulsi Gabbard – 2%

Depending on the data you believe, Warren could be dropping off somewhat as more progressive voters rally toward Sanders. On the other hand, it certainly looks like there could be a traffic jam behind Bernie for the privilege of finishing in second and third.

Quite frankly, Joe Biden needs to finish in second place, or third place at the worst, to avoid losing all his momentum heading into next week. This, of course, assumes he has momentum left and still has a shot at winning in South Carolina.

Elizabeth Warren needs a good finish to keep her campaign alive as well. Her disappointing results in Iowa and New Hampshire make Nevada much more important, a state that she has been making inroads with.

It’s also worth pointing out that early voting took place this week for the caucuses meaning many votes were already cast before the debate took place on Wednesday.

What about the caucuses themselves on Saturday? Can the Nevada Democratic Party avoid what happened in Iowa? That question is still unanswered. Looking at what has transpired over the past two weeks, however, does not inspire confidence:

The difference between an “app” and a “tool” has been debated, but the system that the Nevada Democratic Party came up with as a replacement for the failed app used by the Iowa Democratic Party on caucus night can’t be worse than the original plan, can it?

Every precinct will have an iPad that is pre-loaded with the early voting results. At the in-person caucuses on Saturday, the results will be added to the early voting results, then submitted via a Google Form pre-loaded on the iPad to Nevada Dem headquarters.

It seems like a reasonable plan on paper, but there are many pitfalls including the availability of WiFi and the strength of a cellular signal in a situation where WiFi isn’t available. Beyond the technical limitations, are the results secure? This process hasn’t been audited for integrity so, again, nobody really knows and the DNC has been rather quiet on that front as well.

The Nevada Democratic Party has not committed to saying that results will definitely be released on Saturday. It’s possible that due to any number of hiccups in reporting, the results could be delayed once again as they were in Iowa.

More Information

Follow the 2020 Primary Schedule for the full primary calendar.

We will have live Nevada Caucus results on Saturday, Feb. 22, assuming they are eventually provided by the Nevada Democratic Party.