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Nevada Caucuses Underway. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired February 22, 2020 - 15:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[15:00:01]

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Quickly, just to say, people are concerned that the Bernie support has become very nasty and this whole election has become very nasty near the end, is that something you're seeing here on the ground here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, not here in Reno/Sparks. I haven't seen anything like that. So I hope it's a good example of what's probably going on around the country, so maybe it's overblown. But today has been very civil and I haven't seen any kind of issues of that.

MCMORRIS-SANTOR: All right, thanks. Back to you, Dana, here from Nevada.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well done. Yes. You only get that wrong once. Thank you so much, Evan, for that.

And I want to go over to Ed Lavandera, who is in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ed?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Dana. We are in the East Las Vegas Community Center. This is the ballroom, about ten different precincts holding their caucus inside here today. What you see behind me is Precinct 4605 and they have been waiting for several hours now. They have gotten an earful from all of the candidate supporters. Julian Castro was here just moments ago making the pitch for Elizabeth Warren and one of those voters here today is Byron McDonald.

The sticker gives it away. You are a Warren supporter. You heard from Julian Castro. Are you confident as you talk to your neighbors here? And how is Elizabeth Warren going to do in the precinct?

BYRON MCDONALD, NEVADA VOTER: I feel like it has been a slow buildup. I came here very early. And it really was clearly Bernie in the lead. But I feel like I'm seeing more and more Warren people starting to filter in. So I'm feeling good. I'm feeling actually really confident, more confident than I was, say, I was feeling a couple of days ago.

LAVANDERA: All right. Byron is a first-time caucus voter. He moved here about a year ago from Philadelphia. And what's this experience like for you?

MCDONALD: It's a little chaotic. I'm not used to this. Usually, I'm in and out in like ten minutes. But it's interesting. I like the idea of like hearing other people's ideas and, you know, I'm confident where how I feel so. I'm not afraid to be offended.

LAVANDERA: You're telling me that you think most people here voting for Bernie, and this particular group?

MCDONALD: Yes.

LAVANDERA: Who is your second choice if Elizabeth Warren doesn't meet the threshold to move into the next round?

MCDONALD: It's going to be Bernie. I considered myself more progressive than anything else. And I think their ideals kind of coincide. I like her empathy and I like her compassion a little bit.

LAVANDERA: Do you consider yourself more on the progressive side of the Democratic Party or what do you think that those centrist voters are going to do?

MCDONALD: I am definitely more progressive. I worry that the centrist voters are going to go to sit there and go with the safe choice. I just don't think that' going to work. And I don't think he's going to actually convince any Republican to vote our way.

LAVANDERA: And who can beat Donald Trump factor in how you're voting today?

MCDONALD: Honestly, it was at the beginning, I was looking at Biden, I was looking at Pete and I just got sick of trying to like to be like an analyst. I got sick in trying to be like a pundit. It didn't make any sense to me.

It's like I can't figure out what Republicans are going to think and what candidate we have that they're going to turn to. So I just said, you know what, trust my gut, who do I feel good about. And I just looked at Warren and Bernie and then I heard Warren in the debate and she answered every question I had about whether or not she would be able to hang with Trump during a debate.

LAVANDERA: All right. So you're all set?

MCDONALD: 100 percent.

LAVANDERA: All right. So voting is scheduled to start here in just a few minutes. There are still people checking in. And what is interesting to note here, Dana, as well as in these ten precincts in the last general election, in the 2016 general election, these precincts had some of the lowest voter turnout across this county here in the Las Vegas area. We will wait and see what early voting does to those numbers, if that increases the turnout, which many party officials would obviously be very happy to see. Dana?

BASH: And just by the naked eye, it looks like you've got a fair number of people there. Ed, thank you so much for that very interesting interview.

I want to head over to Wolf, who is at the Magic Wall with John. WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: And, of course, I'm here, Dana, with John King, who is taking a closer look at what is about to unfold in this, the third presidential contest.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, contest number three. So it is very early. What is it about? Well, in part, it's about delegates. This is where we are very early on after Iowa and New Hampshire, still waiting for Iowa to be certified. They're still doing some recounting. And this is where we think we are, Mayor Buttigieg with a small lead.

So it's about delegates in Nevada today, but it's also, let's be honest, about momentum, right? Whoever wins Nevada gets a boost into South Carolina. After South Carolina comes Super Tuesday. We've gone one state at a time and we will through South Carolina and then we had 14 states across American Samoa on Super Tuesday, Wolf.

So what boost will Nevada give to somebody? If you look, you just saw Ed Lavandera, he is here in Clark County, we get a little difficult to see at home, but about 73, 74 percent of the state population lives right here. Las Vegas, the booming suburbs around it, big Clark County, most of the people are here. This is where most of the Democrats have spent their time. This is where the Latino vote, the labor vote, the African-American vote, going to be critical here.

Earlier, Dana talked to Evan, he is up here in Washoe County. That's where Reno is, and then a big rural stretch up here, a competitive swing area in a general election, again, about 15, 16 percent of the statewide population, more voter, more precincts, more Democrats, the candidates often fly between Las Vegas and Reno when they're campaigning in Nevada.

[15:05:02]

But also we've got watch though -- I want to go back in time just to show you it this way. Let's go all the way back to 2008 in the Obama/Clinton race. Hillary Clinton wins has a higher percentage. More people showed up for Hillary Clinton on caucus day back in 2008.

Barack Obama walked away with as many, even an extra delegate than Hillary Clinton. Why? Because he competed in places like White Pine County, not as many people, less than 1 percent of the state population, but it has precincts, more delegates. So 50 people in Vegas and 50 people in White Pine County, 50 people here means a lot more, right? You show up in a small precinct. You have 5, 10, 15, 20, 50 people. You can do a summation (ph).

So that's one of the things we'll watch today as we come back to 2020. Two candidates picked some rural areas where you have some precincts to try to get a delegate or two, or a delegate of three.

The other big thing we're going to watch, Wolf, is, remember, Mark Preston was talking about this earlier. Bernie Sanders won the Latino vote against Hillary Clinton four years ago. Can he build on that? Can he build on that? He thinks he's going to win Nevada. Bernie Sanders wants to win Nevada and get a boost into South Carolina by proving that he is the first Democrat that can win in a much more diverse constituency, about 19 percent last time, four years ago, with Latinos. We'll see what those numbers are today.

But just as importantly, there is one candidate get a big bump for that vote because it's fractured between the candidates. That's something to watch.

13 percent four years ago, African-Americans, we'll see what the final numbers are today. Again, in South Carolina, that number is going to be much higher. Is there a candidate who is proving today in the first diverse Democratic caucus as we move on to the primaries? Is there a candidate who is proving I have much bigger support than anyone else in the African-American community?

So one of the big things we're going to watch, and at the end of the day, we'll count delegates and more importantly we'll be looking at momentum.

BLITZER: A very diverse state indeed, Nevada. All right, John, thanks very much.

David Chalian, you're getting some more Information from our entrance poll.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICS DIRECTOR: That's right, Wolf. We are taking a look at how certain key demographic groups are splitting among the candidates. We were just talking to Kohn King at the Wall about that Hispanic vote. It's making up about 17 percent of the electorate right now. But my God, look at this, Bernie Sanders is running away with it. He has got 51 percent of the Hispanic vote, according to these early entrance polls.

Biden is next, and he's down at 13 percent. That's nearly 40-point, 38-point lead there among Hispanics for Sanders, Buttigieg next at 10 percent, Steyer at 9, Warren at 8. Again, just a tick down as an overall share of the electorate versus four years ago, but Bernie Sanders right there with a majority of Hispanics, which he won last time, but, of course, Hillary Clinton was the only other opponent. He's got a bunch of other opponents fighting for this.

Take a look at the African-American vote. Right now in this data, it's about 10 percent of the electorate, a slight tick down from the overall African-American turnout four years ago, Biden up on top with 36 percent of the African-American vote, but this is key, Wolf. Sanders is at 25 percent. This is only an 11-point deficit. So Sanders is making some significant ground on a key Biden strength while running away with the Hispanic vote. Steyer, at 13 percent among African-Americans, Warren also at 13 percent among African-Americans, and uncommitted down at 4 percent before anybody else.

So Biden winning the African-American vote, but Sanders winning the Hispanic vote by even a larger margin, it's just, again, the first test for these candidates in a diverse electorate that looks more like the Democratic Party overall than what we saw in Iowa and New Hampshire. Wolf? BLITZER: And these are entrance poll results that are coming in right now. We're going to be getting more of these results very soon. David, thank you.

We're awaiting the first real-time results from inside key caucus sites in Nevada. Let's take a quick break. Much more of our special coverage right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:10:00]

BLITZER: The Nevada caucuses are now under way. Hopefully, we'll be getting some early results fairly soon.

Let's check in with Miguel Marquez in Las Vegas right now. What does it look like, Miguel, where you are?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They are just getting started. We're in front of caucus 1304, Precinct 1304. We're in the Lion's Den at Sierra Vista high school. This, over here, wolf, is the iPad that holds all the information for not only the caucus-goers who are here today but also those early voting numbers. That will be critical to this process.

And then over here, all of those numbers will eventually be put up on the wall. Every single precinct has this caucus math poster, and all of that will be put up publicly here. They are just about to get going.

I want to show you real quickly though before we get going. There are three different precincts. This is precinct 1304. On the far side of the gym here, that's a different precinct. And on that side, that's another precinct entirely. They have 15 precincts in this one caucus side about to get going. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Let us know how it unfolds.

Let's check in with Evan McMorris-Santoro outside of Reno and Sparks right now for us. What does it look like there, Evan?

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Well, hi, Wolf. What you're watching right here is actual caucusing going on at Precinct 6202 here in Sparks High School, one of several precincts here in this high school. We got an early look now on what the early voting impact has been on this process because this is a place where you have 36 people who showed up in person to caucus, but 66 caucused early. We just got that number. So that's for a total of 102 people caucusing.

Right now, the volunteer for the Democratic Party is going through her script. She's plugging numbers in. She's plugging ballot numbers into this calculator that will help her determine sort of who has won this precinct.

But so far, things have gone pretty smoothly. It's quiet. This is the early part of it. Because of that high early vote number, you have very few people really here in person doing this, which so far has led to a pretty smooth process.

[15:15:00]

BLITZER: All right. Evan, thank you very much.

David Chalian is going through some of the more entrance poll results. We are getting some indications how this all, David, is unfolding.

CHALIAN: That's right, Wolf. Now, I want to show you, we talked about before about the ideological makeup of the electorate. Here it is again, as a reminder, 30 percent call themselves very liberal, somewhat at 36 percent and 31 percent moderate.

And I want to show you the split among candidates, it's very instructive, look at the moderates. And what you see is a pretty close battle, Biden at 23 percent, Buttigieg get at 21, Sanders getting 21 percent of self-described moderates as well. We normally don't talk about him in that lane, Klobuchar at 14 percent, Steyer at 10. So, remember, Sanders, Buttigieg, Biden all very competitive for the moderate vote.

Now, look at very liberal voters, also about 30 percent of the electorate. And you can see why this is shaping up to be such a good night for Bernie Sanders. 52 percent of those that identify themselves as very liberal, again, three in ten voters today, are choosing Bernie Sanders. Nobody is even close. Warren is next. She's all the way down at 17 percent. That's a 35-point gap there advantage for Sanders, Biden at 9, Buttigieg at 8, Steyer at 8.

So, Wolf, if you are Bernie Sanders and you see you're doing really well with moderates and you're running away with the very liberals, you are feeling pretty good about your chances in these Nevada caucuses today.

CHALIAN: Brianna, over to you.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, David.

And, I mean, that really does speak to the issue that we're seeing with Elizabeth Warren, right? Because unlike Bernie Sanders, she is this distant second when it comes to liberals and it's pretty amazing with moderates, one out of five are for Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren isn't even registering on that, Chris.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: If you are voting Sanders, these numbers are right where you want them to be. I mean, you know, 51 percent in a crowded field with Hispanics, obviously early entrance polling, but still relatively competitive with the African-Americans, Biden 36, Sanders 25. The moderate number is great for him. The liberal number is great. And, yes, I mean what we've seen, Jackie is talking about the software, and I will let her talk about it more, but what we have seen is Bernie Sanders has emerged as the liberal choice.

Now, their coalition, Sanders and Warren, exactly the same, hers is more affluent, more highly educated, whiter, but he has emerged as that choice. And it's just hard to see -- I really do think the race is Bernie and then anti-Bernie and all the way to the end. And I just don't know that Elizabeth Warren can be the anti-Bernie.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: But one of the things you hear from Bernie Sanders supporters is of his consistency. He has been saying the same thing for a very long time. And Warren kind of going back and forth on Medicare-for-all, kind of going back and forth now on even Super PACs, you hear some hesitance about that, not the Super PAC obviously that just happened.

Now, she did have a very good debate performance and there was a question of whether, how that would affect this, and how it would affect down the line, maybe some early voting in Texas or California, and how that will help her. she has more money now. Hit Michael Bloomberg and money fell out. He was like a pinata.

But, again, where does that get her, and especially if she takes a hit in a state where she actually was supposed to do pretty well? We just that at ground game.

KEILAR: Let's head to Las Vegas. And Lucy Kafanov, she's there at the Bellagio, one of the caucus sites. And tell us what's happening as this just gets under way there, Lucy.

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what you're seeing right now, that group of people that are being counted, those are the Bernie Sanders supporters. The voting here, the first round of voting, caucusing just got under way. They did a count. There is 123 eligible caucus attendees here. That means the number that each candidate needs to stay viable is 19. As you can see, the Bernie crowd is huge. They're counting them right now. Bernie definitely has enough votes.

I want to pan over to the left now to show some other groups. Over there in the distance is the Warren group, a very small group. They certainly don't look, by my count, to have 19 people. It's just about five or six over there. And then over to the left are the Biden supporters. They also look like they met that minimum 19 number threshold to stay viable.

And we do not see a Pete Buttigieg group. We do not see Tom Steyer. So it does look like the big winners, although, of course, this is not formal at the moment, they have to be formally counted and then to realign, for now, Biden and Bernie, they are going to then realign. So what what that means is those folks who has stepped out for Elizabeth Warren, there is not enough of them for Elizabeth to be viable. They will have to either choose one of the other viable candidates or they can go home.

So that is what we're waiting for right now. They're going to count everyone in these official groups, they're going to get those results out and then they are going to go back to that second round.

[15:20:05]

Brianna, I'm going to toss it back to you. Democracy in action here at the Bellagio. KEILAR: Yes, it's very interesting to watch.

And let's head from Las Vegas over to Sparks, Nevada, and Evan McMorris-Santoro, he is there, and this is just getting under way where you are. You are actually in a gymnasium. Take us through and tell us who has the biggest crowd so far, Evan.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: So, really, the question here -- this is Sparks High School in Washoe County, Nevada, right up by Reno. This is Precinct 6202, which is one of four precincts in this high school gym. And, really, the biggest crowd is for Bernie, but of a pretty small crowd.

As you can see right now, they're doing the first alignment. People have now separated into their candidate groups and are voting in this precinct. The majority of the vote for this precinct came in in early voting. And we don't know what those results are yet. But we're watching the in-person caucusing going in right now. This group that you're looking at right right now is the Bernie group. There are four people standing in the Biden group. They just found 21 for Bernie, who is decided by the poll, the person operating the caucus, and then there's about nine for Warren.

So Bernie is doing very well here. This is a county that he won in 2016 caucuses, and he looks like he is doing pretty well here again.

But, again, the big story really is that it just isn't that dramatic. People are moving around, they're sort of -- there aren't that many of them here, up here in Sparks, and they're just kind of making it work and grinding through that process and we will see how it works out in the end once all this data is crunched.

KEILAR: All right. Evan, we actually have the readout of the first round from your caucus site there. So let's go through this. This is really interesting. It's on your screen. 65.8 percent for Bernie Sanders. 23.7 percent for Senator Elizabeth Warren. 10.5 percent for the former vice president, Joe Biden. Nothing for Pete Buttigieg, nothing for Tulsi Gabbard. This is the first round. We have to be clear.

And this is important though, this is important, looking at this number, because there is a threshold here, and Joe Biden is not needing it unless the early vote somehow affects that mark.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Yes, correct. And we'll see how this plays out. So it doesn't necessarily spell the end of him here, because we could see what will be known as a realignment, for lack of a better term, so he could come back up. But I do think it's interesting that we're seeing Bernie Sanders, as we've been talking about tonight doing so well, and now doing well across racial groups, which was a bit of a question, if he would be able to do that. And, again, it's Bernie Sanders now in a position, and I guess we'll find out in the next couple of hours of, really, overperforming perhaps what we were expecting him to do in Nevada.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But I think that if we go back to a central question that we've been up watching, the person who came from the debates with all of the momentum was Elizabeth Warren. And we've heard about Elizabeth Warren's ground game, as you were saying earlier, Jackie, in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and it hasn't produced any victories .

And as the electorate becomes more discuss, the question that people have to ask themselves is where does Elizabeth Warren actually win. And I think that's a central thing.

The other thing is Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg seem to be splintering this middle more moderate lane. And there is going to be a question of who is going to coalesce -- who are you going to coalesce around to take on Bernie Sanders. Michael Bloomberg down the road, looks like a spoiler more than anything else else. And so --

KEILAR: Let's listen in as the process under way there in Sparks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So these other results from our early voting. The groups for Bennet has zero early first choice votes. Biden, the group for Biden has seven early first choice votes. The group for Pete Buttigieg has nine early -- has nine first choice early votes. John Delaney has zero. Tulsi Gabbard has zero. The group for Amy Klobuchar has eight first choice early votes. The group for Deval Patrick has zero first choice early votes. The group for Bernie Sanders has 27 first choice early votes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 27?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 27, yes. The group for Tom Steyer has nine first choice early votes. And the group for Elizabeth Warren has six first choice early votes. Andrew Yang's group has zero early first choice votes and uncommitted has first choice early votes as zero as well.

Did you want to see to double check?

KEILAR: All right, you are watching Sparks, Nevada, the caucus, the first round of the caucus, under way. In this caucus site, we're going to continue to monitor all of the action.

[15:25:01]

You are watching CNN special live coverage of the Nevada caucuses. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The Democratic presidential caucuses in Nevada have been under way for about a half an hour. We're starting to get some very, very early results. Let's go back to Even McMorris-Santoro. He's in Sparks, Nevada, just outside of Reno, the second largest city in Nevada.

You have an update on the actual count where you are, Evan.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Yes, Wolf, here, at Precinct 6202 in Sparks, Nevada, they just finished the first round of voting. That includes the early votes totals that they finally put together, and it is a huge precinct for Bernie Sanders.

[15:30:04]

He has 48 total participants, when you count 27 early votes and 21 in person here. He is the only candidate viable in the first round.

So what you're watching now are candidates from the other campaigns, that's every other campaign, supporters of those campaign, trying to get people to come to their group, to make the second viable candidate.

Because right now, Bernie is the person who has won this caucus, with -- in the first round, with the only viability of anybody here.

And you know, it is not surprising, given the organizing effort that the Sanders campaign put on the ground here in Washoe County. They had several offices. Everyone we talked about saying they were everywhere.

And after the first round, 48 votes for Bernie Sanders, 12 votes for Pete Buttigieg. And I'm sorry -- and then eight votes for Joe Biden. But those numbers are still coming together. We're still going to put together the final results on that.

But right now, we're looking at a huge result for Bernie Sanders in precinct 6202, which is just one of several precincts here in Sparks County or Washoe County.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Let me read the numbers on the screen. Let me read the numbers for our viewers.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Right now, very early in the one caucus site, in the one precinct, Bernie Sanders 47.1 percent, Elizabeth Warren, 14.7 percent. Remember, you need about 15 percent to qualify to go -- to be viable, as they say. And Pete Buttigieg, 11.8 percent, and Tom Steyer, 10.8 percent, and Joe Biden, 7.8 percent.

You can see those numbers right there on the left part of your screen.

And let's walk over to David Chalian and Dana Bash.

And, David, explain what is going on as we see these numbers. These are county delegates.

CHALIAN: This is the actual exciting part of a caucus process, which is this in-person with your neighbors cajoling and convincing that goes on in this realignment process.

And what you have here, if you look at those numbers on the side of the screen, what you see, Wolf, is, as Evan was saying, only Bernie Sanders is viable in this district. So all his supporters are locked in. They can't leave and regroup with someone else. But everyone else listed there, whether it's Buttigieg or Biden or

Steyer, Klobuchar, Warren, they have the ability to try and form a viable group. They can't pull from Sanders. Those folks are locked in.

But the Buttigieg and Biden folks can talk to each other and see if they can form a group that is viable so they can get to the number.

And right now, the people, let's say, from Buttigieg's camp, going over to the Biden folks, and saying, this is why you should come with us. You know, let's say they want to make it a stop-Bernie Sanders argument or something. And this is the moment where they try to do that. Because right now, only Bernie Sanders is eligible for delegates out of this --

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: You're right. Bottom line is this, it is not just the race for second, but to see if there will be a second in that particular caucus site.

I was -- the results didn't go so well in Iowa, the actual process was fascinating to watch, to be there. And I was at one of the caucus sites in Iowa, and to watch that cajoling, it was so interesting, particularly since some of it was kind of off the cuff. And people genuinely talking to their friends and neighbors saying come on, you got to come over.

Some of it was very much based on training. Because a lot of the money that we know that these campaigns have spent, spent not just on advertising, but on organizing, to give them the scripts, to get people over.

BLITZER: Miguel Marquez is in Las Vegas. He's getting a readout on the caucus site.

What are you learning, Miguel?

MARQUEZ: Yes, these are the very first numbers coming in for precinct 1304 in the outskirts of the -- the suburbs of Las Vegas. This is the biggest group. At 48.9 percent, Elizabeth Warren has the biggest number of supporters in 1304. The second biggest is Senator Bernie Sanders at 25.5 percent. Those are both viable groups in this caucus, in this precinct.

Pete Buttigieg supporters are here. They're at 12.8 percent. So there may be some realignment that will make the Buttigieg campaign viable in this second round.

We have one person for Yang over here. We have one person for Joe Biden here. And we have several people, a few people for Klobuchar. She is 8.5 percent. Both Biden and Yang at 2.1 percent.

So we're about to start the second half, the second go-round, so they can align, that second alignment. They will also at some point add in those early vote numbers. And then we will see how all of the candidate does completely in precinct 1304 -- Wolf? [15:35:00]

BLITZER: The second round is about to begin. We will see how that unfolds. We're waiting to get more numbers from these caucus sites around Nevada.

Much more of our special coverage right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're watching the results. They're beginning to come in.

Let's go back to Sparks, Nevada, just outside of Reno. Evan McMorris- Santoro is on the scene.

And let's listen in. Let's hear what the result are.

Evan, give us the results.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Well, actually --

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: We see Sanders, 47.1 percent. Elizabeth Warren, 15.7 percent. That's critical, 15 percent. You're viable, if you get 15 percent. She is clearly viable right now. And you see Pete Buttigieg, 11.8 percent. Tom Steyer 10.8 percent. Amy Klobuchar, 7.8 percent. If you're under 15 percent, you're not viable.

Evan, set the scene for us over there where you are.

[15:40:04]

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: So it is just fascinating to watch these caucuses occur. I'm here at the 6202 precinct in Sparks, Nevada. And you know, what happened here, at this precinct, you have 16 people for your candidate to be viable. And Biden had one person show up in person to caucus, and with the early vote all together, Warren had 15 people.

And the one Biden woman, she walked over and she sat down, and she caucused for Senator Warren, making her viable.

So now, we have a huge group, the vast majority who caucused for Senator Sanders and he is viable, been viable since the beginning. And when this one woman walked from one side of this bleacher to the other side, Warren becomes viable.

Just an amazing thing to see actually happen in person, how something so small can actually be a big deal for candidates and campaigns that work so hard to get delegates out of these places.

BLITZER: So they're -- basically, what are they doing now, Evan?

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: So now, they're going through some more of the second level of counting. They've done their second round. And they're going to be doing more of who is checking out who comes out with the delegates.

And as you can see, the woman who is running the -- she is a volunteer for the Democratic Party. She has a has script and she's sticking to it. And she has an iPad with the numbers and, as she is going through it, it helps to understand what is going on.

BLITZER: Let's check in at another location, the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. Lucy Kafanov is on the scene there.

What is it like, Lucy, over there? And who are the viable candidates so far?

KAFANOV: Hey, Wolf. It's interesting, it hasn't really been a nail- biter here because you can visually see who the viable candidates are.

Those cheering right now, those are the folks who came out for Biden. They just had their realignment. They're cheering because some of the non-viable candidate supporters from Warren came over to their side.

Over across the room from them are the Bernie Sanders supporters. They are visually it seems clearly the largest group in the room, and they seem to have the most supporters here.

The other two candidates who got any support, Warren, had six people. All of those supporters had to realign. And Steyer had three, and his supporters had to realign as well.

What they're going to be doing right now is recounting the final numbers is to figure out how many Bernie got and how many Biden got.

BLITZER: In that precinct, Bernie versus Biden. We will see what happens.

Lucy, we'll get back to you.

David Chalian, Dana Bana.

David, I want to alert viewers, it's very, very early, these are very early and small numbers but they're indicative of what is going on.

CHALIAN: These numbers that we're seeing in these rooms are representative of what is happening in that one room. We shouldn't draw any kind of extrapolation as to what is happening statewide.

But what is so interesting is that you are seeing the process play out. You're seeing which candidates are viable, in that first round of voting, you're seeing how the Nevada Democratic Party has prepared all of these volunteers and site leaders with those iPads to incorporate the very large early vote, and then you see the realignment.

BLITZER: Hold on one second. Miguel Marquez is getting more information at the caucus site where he is.

Miguel, what you are learning?

MARQUEZ: So we are in the lion's den at Sierra Vista High School in the suburbs of Nevada, and they have now added in the early votes, those that voted from Saturday to Tuesday, and the in-person vote for precinct 1304. Elizabeth Warren is viable with 34.8 percent of the votes.

BLITZER: Let me interrupt for a moment. I'll read the numbers.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Hold on a second. Hold on. Hold on. Miguel, hold on for a moment.

We got the numbers on one part of the screen. Sanders, 36.5 percent. Warren, 27.9 percent. They are both viable. And the other candidates below 15 percent are not viable. Buttigieg, 12.5 percent. Biden, 8.7 percent. Klobuchar, 7.7 percent.

Go ahead, Miguel.

MARQUEZ: Yes, so the Biden -- the Buttigieg folks are over here, trying to get people to come over to their side, because they are very, very close to viability. They're speaking to the Klobuchar supporters, who are only at 7.7 percent, about eight people here in person, and the Steyer folks that are only about five total.

Steyer did not have anybody show up in person, though. So for the second round, it is going to be very difficult for him to -- it won't be possible for him to get viable, at least at this particular precinct.

Other precincts in this room, they are starting to break up, and starting on their second alignment so they can get finished here.

I'll tell you, they allotted about two hours for each of these caucuses, but because so many people voted early, it looks like they are going to be done in pretty quick order here -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Yes, these are the early votes that are coming in, and it will still be the final round. We will see what happens, if Buttigieg, for example, becomes viable, once those votes are counted.

[15:45:07]

Much more of our special coverage, right after this.

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BLITZER: All right, let's check in with David. He's getting more information from the entrance poll results we're getting -- David?

CHALIAN: Wolf, we're taking a look at sort of the racial demographic breakdown and how white voters, Hispanic voters, black voters split among the candidates.

But remember, these entrance polls are based on what voters are saying going into the caucuses, their initial preference is how it is split. This does not account for what happens inside the caucus room, like you've been seeing as people move around. But it does give us a clue of what people are thinking and where their support was for that initial first round to start with.

[15:50:13]

Take a look at the white vote to start with. It's two-thirds of the electorate. And 65 percent of the electorate, according to these early entry poll numbers, is white. A little higher of a percentage than we saw four years ago.

Bernie Sanders wins them very substantially. He's got an 11-point lead over Pete Buttigieg. Sanders with 30 percent of the white vote. Buttigieg with 19. Klobuchar with 14. Warren with 14. Biden with 12. Clearly, a Sanders category and it's two-thirds of the electorate.

Let's look at the Hispanic vote. Sanders won them four years ago and he's winning them again today. He's got 54 percent of Hispanic votes and they are making up 18 percent of the electorate. Nearly one in five voters, 54 percent.

Again, initial preference. This could change as the final numbers come in. Biden, 14 percent. Buttigieg, 9 percent. Steyer, 7 percent. Warren, 7 percent. That's a 40-point lead among Hispanics, 18 percent of the electorate, for Bernie Sanders. He had an 11-point lead among white voters.

Let's look at African-American voters. This is a category where Joe Biden has an edge. The former vice president is at 34 percent. Sanders is right behind him at 28 percent. African-Americans make up 11 percent of the electorate.

And Hillary Clinton won them going away four years away. It's part of what drove her success in Nevada. Here it's a closer competition. Biden at 34 percent. Sanders at 28 percent. Steyer at 17 percent. Warren at 12. Klobuchar all the way down at 3 percent.

You see, this isn't a Sanders category he wins but he remains competitive. And with white voters and Hispanic voters, he's winning quite substantially.

This is what is giving confidence inside the Sanders campaign about the Nevada caucuses today -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Very interesting numbers, indeed.

David, thank you very much.

Let's go back to Evan McMorris-Santoro. He's in Sparks, Nevada, outside of Reno.

Evan, I understand you have the final votes, the final results from the caucus site where you are at?

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Yes, Wolf, I do. I'm here at precinct 6202 in Sparks, Nevada, here at the Sparks High School gym. You're watching the final process where they choose delegates to go to the state convention. The voting is over here. The results are Sanders 59.1. Senator Warren, 35.5. Representative Tulsi Gabbard has 3.2. And Tom Steyer has 2.2.

What that translates into is nine delegates for Senator Sanders coming out of this precinct and six delegates for Warren.

What's happening right now is people who are sitting here in this group are being chosen as delegates to go to the state convention.

But at the end of this process, Bernie, overwhelming winner in the vote, and he walked in with nine delegates. Warren comes in second after a woman moved over to make her viable coming with six delegates. That's the story from 6202.

BLITZER: All right, Evan, thank you very much.

Dana and David are here.

Let me get your reaction. This is very early. But Bernie Sanders, at least in this one caucus site where we are, Elizabeth Warren, they have done well.

CHALIAN: Yes. And it mirrors what is we're seeing in the entrance polls as well as we've been talking about in terms of Sanders' strength in Nevada.

But, Wolf, what is so interesting here, you'll recall only Bernie Sanders was initially viable in this district that Evan was at. Then they did the realignment process, that second final round of voting, and you see that Warren was able to woo enough support to earn delegates.

This is what's so important. It's so important to who wins Nevada and it's so important when you think about the delegate race for the nomination overall.

When you're awarding things proportionally, you can be somebody who prevents the number-one candidate from getting a majority.

Bernie Sanders has a big lead in that caucus site but Elizabeth Warren, by becoming viable, gets a chunk of the delegates. It's not a winner-take-all event. She gets to accumulate some delegates to keep a standing in this overall race.

BASH: Just to kind of bounce off of that, what we're seeing, mostly you people -- and we'll see if this bears out when we get the complete picture of the caucuses -- is Bernie Sanders doing extremely well among all -- I mean, Joe Biden is doing better among black voters. But among Latino and white voters, which is 83 percent of the share of the electorate, he's running away with it, Bernie Sanders.

What you're seeing is, because there are still so many candidates in this race, they're splitting it. They're splitting up the ability to challenge him. That is a very real reason, at least in the short term, looking at these numbers, why Bernie Sanders continues to do so well.

[15:55:14]

BLITZER: He's doing well so far. Very, very early.

BASH: And he has genuine support.

BLITZER: Yes. Very early in the process.

All right, we'll get some more results coming in from the caucus sites. We have reporters throughout the state.

Much more right after this.

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