Left-wing firebrand Bernie Sanders has been made the clear front-runner to take on Donald Trump in this year’s election.
The self-proclaimed “democratic socialist” has surged into a 27-point lead in the polls over his closest rival, former Vice President Joe Biden after winning the Nevada caucus.
“We’ve brought together a multigenerational, multiracial coalition that is not only going to win Nevada, it’s going to sweep this country,” Sanders told supporters in San Antonio, Texas.
Victory in Nevada on Saturday comes at a critical moment in the Democratic race to win the party’s nomination to take on Trump.
Other hopefuls including Trump nemesis billionaire Mike Bloomberg, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Biden all floundered in Sanders wake.
South Carolina will hold their ballot next on Saturday before ‘Super Tuesday’, on March 3, when 14 states will vote.
In a state that is nearly 30 per cent Latino, 10 per cent black and has a rapidly growing Asian American community, the Nevada results were an indication of Sanders’ strength in diverse states that more closely reflect the supporters of the Democratic party.
Before the count was finalised Trump congratulated Sanders, 78, on his victory before the result was declared.
“Looks like Crazy Bernie is doing well in the Great State of Nevada. Biden and the rest look weak, and no way Mini Mike (Bloomberg) can restart his campaign after the worst debate performance in the history of Presidential Debates,” Trump said.
“Congratulations Bernie, and don’t let them take it away from you,” the president added.
In response to the president’s tweet, Sanders told his supporters not to reveal how much support he had in the country’s most populous Republican state.
“Don’t tell anybody, I don’t want to get them nervous, we are going to win the Democratic primary in Texas,” he said while in San Antonio.
“And you know, this is also important the president gets very, very upset easily, so don’t tell him we’re going to beat him here in Texas,” he added.
Vermont senator Sanders win comes off a victory in New Hampshire, with Buttigieg coming in a close second in the Granite State.
The former mayor came third in Nevada, with 15.38 per cent of the vote.
In Iowa, Buttigieg beat Sanders in the delegate count by a fraction, while the Vermont senator won the popular vote. Biden finished in fourth place in Iowa and fifth place in New Hampshire.
Candidates who win more than 15 per cent of the vote at a caucus are awarded delegates, who then go to the party’s convention in Milwaukee in July to support their Democratic candidate.
While there, a candidate needs the support of a majority of delegates eligible to vote on a given ballot to win the party’s nomination for president.
There are a total of 3,979 pledged delegates eligible to vote on what is known as the first ballot.
These delegates are allocated to candidates based on the results of caucus and primary contests in the states.
The formulas that determine how those results are translated into delegates won can be complicated, but in general, a candidate must get 15 percent support to be eligible to receive delegates.
Therefore, the more state contests a candidate wins, the more delegates will be pledged to support the candidate at the national convention.
Before Saturday, Sanders had 21 delegates, and while he will remain a long way off the 1,990 needed to become the nominee, victory in Nevada brought him another small step closer towards that total.
South Carolina will hold its ballot next on Saturday before “Super Tuesday”, on March 3, when 14 states will vote.
Sanders’ win in multi-racial Nevada indicated his strength in diverse states.
Trump congratulated Sanders, 78, saying: “Looks like Crazy Bernie is doing well in the Great State of Nevada.
"Biden and the rest look weak.”
Sanders responded: “Don’t tell him we’re going to beat him here in Texas.”
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