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Nevada Caucuses Underway; Vote Count Underway At Caucus Sites; Entrance Poll: Sanders Has Early Lead. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired February 22, 2020 - 16:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:00:10]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We're waiting for more results from the actual caucus sites. They are coming in.

But in the meantime, let me go back to David Chalian.

David, you're looking at these entrance poll results and you're learning when folks in Nevada actually made up their minds.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, and these different results that we're showing you right now, Wolf, I think tell the story really well of what's happening overall with Bernie Sanders.

But, yes, we asked people when did you make up your mind? Well, people that decided in the last month, you see a pretty close competition, but one that Bernie Sanders is very much a part of. He's got 21 percent of those late deciders. Pete Buttigieg has 20 percent, Klobuchar 17, Biden 14, Warren, 13.

This is a competitive category, but remember, Bernie Sanders is also competitive here.

Now, I want to show you those that decided before a month ago, the early deciders. This is a category Sanders is running away with and this a pattern we're seeing over and over again. Forty-five percent of early deciders went with Bernie Sanders in their initial preference, according to this entrance poll. Nobody else comes close to those that decided more than a month ago, 30 points behind them, Biden at 16 percent, Warren at 12 percent, Buttigieg at 11.

Bernie Sanders has very sticky support. People go to him early and they stay with him. It is a strength of his in this race.

Take a look also at the electability factor. We ask people, are you looking for a Trump defeater or looking for somebody who agrees with you on the issues? Among those, which is nearly two thirds of the electorate or 63 percent say they're looking for somebody who can defeat Donald Trump.

Once again, it's not a Sanders runaway category, but he's competitive in it and it's a big category. Sanders at 23 percent, Biden at 19 percent, Buttigieg, 17, Klobuchar, 14, Warren, 13. Competitive? Sanders on top.

Now look at the other side of the equation which is about 34 percent of the electorate who is looking for somebody who agrees with them on the issues and yet again, Sanders is running away with this category, 57 percent. Forty-six points behind is where you find Elizabeth Warren at 11 percent, 10 percent say they like Buttigieg. Biden at 8. Steyer at 5.

This is the story of what we're seeing. Bernie Sanders strong category, he wins overwhelmingly. They maybe a smaller slice of the overall electorate, but in categories, even if it's a big slice of the electorate and it may not be his strongest suit, he is running very competitively.

This is what a strong candidacy looks like and why Sanders has this early lead in Nevada.

BLITZER: Very significant indeed. All right, David. Stand by.

Dana and John King are here.

What about this? It looks like Bernie Sanders is getting ready to be really happy.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, one of the most significant numbers that David just put out there matches a trend that we have seen in a few national poll numbers coming out, and now this matches it for important way because they're actual votes, and that is the head and the heart when it comes to Bernie Sanders are starting to come together.

What I mean by that is people who -- people have been flocking to him who are his supporters because they like what he believes in. But at least early on in the process, they overwhelmingly said it was Joe Biden who would be best to beat Donald Trump. And that has changed among in this particular electorate, the caucus-goers. Twenty-three percent of Bernie -- 23 percent say Bernie Sanders would best against Trump and only 19 percent say Joe Biden. I mean, that is really significant.

And, again, you could argue, well, that's because this is obviously a really good day and night for Bernie Sanders in Nevada, but it's not just that. It matches the overall national picture and that is why people are looking at Bernie Sanders saying, you know, he's the guy to beat right now.

BLITZER: You know, John, it's still early, but we're beginning to get a feel of what's going on.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And so, you see, if you look across the board, David went for the numbers, whether it's Latino voters, a big Sanders lead, African-American voters, Sanders is very competitive. Liberal voters, he has claimed that lead.

Over the summertime, we saw a competition between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders for the liberal, progressive part of the race. Bernie Sanders owns that now. So, what does he have in this race? He has a very unique lane, the progressive lane but also the familiarity lane, which Joe Biden has lost.

He's going to Latino community. He's going to the African-American community, communities that traditionally want to know you, want to trust you, want to know if they can trust you. And he's doing well there.

So, what is the knock on Bernie Sanders been. That he can't put together a big coalition. That he can't beat Donald Trump. Well, what is he doing today? He's putting together the broader coalition. He's reaching into moderates and conservatives as well.

And so, it's the third contest. There's a long way to go. But if you look at this, one of the things you see early on is that there will be pressure. The question is from where to convince some of these moderates to get out, and the idea that if Bernie Sanders had the lane for himself.

But the fun part for me, the interesting part of me, is that Bernie Sanders, rightly so, says I'm the anti-establishment candidate.

[16:05:01]

Who is the establishment? Remember when we cover the Bill Clinton White House, you had elder statesmen like, you know, Vernon Jordan and Bob Strauss, Ron Brown back in that day, could pick up the phone, could cut off your money, could tell a candidate get out of the race.

That world doesn't exist anymore. You can raise money off the Internet. There's no central party structure.

So, as long as the other moderates think there's delegates to be gained or there's an opportunity somewhere, somehow down the road, they stay in and Bernie Sanders will benefit.

CHALIAN: Yes. So -- I think you've just hit on the two major things. We still see this split in the moderate lane. Nobody having some -- nobody is getting coalesced around by the voters.

But the other side of that coin is that Sanders is competitive there. I mean, so he has this part of the party that that's with his rock solid but he's not a zero in this other part. John said he's doing that coalition expansion. And what is amazing is that it's a two -- it's like two punches.

Nobody on that moderate side can be the single anti-Sanders. That doesn't seem to be existing yet with voters and Bernie Sanders gets to have a say with that wing of the party as well right now. He's winning over people who are looking for electability. He's winning over these moderates.

BASH: And this is one of the -- we talked about split among moderates or just the split among non-Bernie Sanders voters. We saw this movie in 2016 on the Republican side. And you saw in the early contest, even where Donald Trump did win, he didn't win with a huge share of the vote. He won because he did the best and a number of voters -- excuse me, a number of candidates vying in the contest. And that helped Donald Trump do well.

He had a movement. Bernie Sanders has a movement, and so far, particularly in Nevada, it looks like there's the same sort of dynamic.

KING: The biggest difference is winner-take-all rules in the Republican.

BASH: Yes, that's true.

KING: For Donald Trump who's winning with 27, 28, 29 percent, getting all the delegates. For Sanders, you know, if he wins Nevada big today, he'll get most of the delegates, he won't get all the delegates if other candidates are viable. And so, that's the great moderate hope, if you will, that eventually the field consolidates and gets it.

But back to David's point, you know, George H.W. Bush used to call it big mo. Winning matters in politics. So, the idea was, with some moderate emerged in the first early contest to be the alternative to Bernie Sanders, the answer has been no. Bernie Sanders says he's ready, even with Pete Buttigieg in Iowa, Bernie Sanders just narrowly won.

Imagine the different conversation we would be having. The Amy Klobuchar Friday night debate New Hampshire stopped Pete Buttigieg. He was on a track, talk to anybody, he was going to win the New Hampshire primary. He was going to beat Bernie Sanders in his backyard.

Imagine how different this conversation would be, but he didn't. He didn't. And Sanders ekes out that win, then goes again back to Nevada. I said this earlier, I'm going to say it again, Bernie Sanders learned lessons from 2016. He's a lot more strategic and tactical than he gets credit for.

He won the Latino vote four years ago, he didn't win the African- American vote, but he has gone back to those communities repeatedly, to keep the ties he made, to build new ones, and to tell these people, kick the tires, you can trust me when I ran again, four years of work has paid off for Bernie Sanders. Now, the other candidates are going to have to look at this, if these numbers continue and figure out, how do we regroup by South Carolina and then what comes after that, which is the blur -- Super Tuesday, 14 states, and American Samoa on one night.

BLITZER: March 3rd.

KING: Yes.

BLITZER: We're about to get some more actual results from caucus sites. Much more of our special coverage right after this.

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[16:12:28] BLITZER: We're getting some more final results from various caucus sites throughout Nevada.

Let's check back with Lucy Kafanov. She's at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.

What are you seeing? What are you learning, Lucy, over there?

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. The room is rather empty behind me and that is because the second and final route of voting has wrapped up.

If our viewers take a look at the left side of the screen, you'll see that Sanders came in at the top with 61.8 percent of the vote, Biden coming in next with 36.6 percent and 1.6 uncommitted. That's just two people here who were uncommitted.

So, those big picture trends, those early voting trends that David and Dana and John were talking about before we went to break are being reflected here. Again, this is just one caucus site, a microcosm of the bigger picture of what's happening here in Nevada.

And again, this site is unusual because these were shift workers. So, there were no early results that were tallied in here. It's kind of like Iowa, what you saw is what you got. The largest number of people coming out for Bernie Sanders and that's actually quite interesting because there were a lot of union workers in this room, including Culinary Union workers, and remember over the week, the previous week, we saw the Culinary Union distancing themselves from Sanders over the potential fears of losing their access to the very special health care that they have through the union. And so, it's interesting that Sanders did come out on top here with 61.8 percent of the vote.

Wolf, throwing it back to you.

BLITZER: All right. Lucy, thank you.

You know, David Chalian, it's interesting that at least in this one caucus site, the former vice president, at least he was viable.

CHALIAN: Yes, he was viable. And this is -- this is the Bellagio. This is the Strip caucus. The whole purpose of setting up these caucus sites on the Strip are to allow shift workers to be able to participate.

And what I think you see, so, it is -- what is so interesting here is the union split. And we have seen this quite a bit. There's a difference between the leadership of the union and how they want to position themselves politically in their sort of power table settings than the membership, rank-and-file members of the union.

By the way, we see this in a general election. We think of unions as a Democratic constituency, but remember, I mean, one of Donald Trump's successes, a lot of union members, it's the Reagan Democrats. The same thing, a lot of union members went for Donald Trump. The membership and the leadership are not the same thing. And I think

why you see Bernie Sanders doing so well at place like that that is union driven is because the members showed up for Bernie Sanders.

KING: And the question is, does this continue through the primaries, in the sense that a lot of union leadership is for Joe Biden. The culinary union did not endorse. They wanted to endorse, they knew they couldn't because they would have endorsed Joe Biden, the leadership, and they would have had a revolt among their members.

[16:15:02]

Lucy was showing earlier, all these uniformed hotel workers for Bernie Sanders. This is a major issue here, because a lot of these union workers feel they keep giving up in negotiations. Yes, they have their great health care plan, but they keep giving up to keep it, they keep making concessions.

And Sanders has made inroads by essentially saying you can't trust the establishment. Again, their leadership is part of the establishment.

So, does this continue as we go on to other states? Bernie Sanders won Michigan against Hillary Clinton last time. How does the labor vote right down there? There are -- labor unions are not as big as they used to be, but it's going to be fascinating to watch, and within the labor union, the industrial unions versus the blue collar unions, versus the service unions. And watch how all this all plays out.

In New Hampshire, for example, you saw the firefighters trying to come to Joe Biden's aid. They are strong, where they are strong, but does this split continue. And to David's point about, as we look to a general election, it's a long way down the line, just to give you Macomb County, Michigan, that Donald Trump won it, he won Michigan, he's president of the United States.

So, this is something we're going to watch as it plays. But this is another example where the anti-establishment message of Sanders, we think of it as this big picture message. You can see in it in those hotel uniforms in that ballroom, these people looking at their own local union leadership and saying, no, sorry, you sent a memo saying under no circumstances support Bernie Sanders. There they are standing up in public supporting Bernie Sanders.

BASH: And let's drill down on what that means for Joe Biden in particular, because you mentioned that based on the other snapshot caucus sites that we've seen, Joe Biden is doing really well and that he's viable. He's coming in second place. He's got over 36 percent of the vote.

But then the question goes to, even given how much support among the union brash he has gotten nationwide, but in particular in Nevada, given all of tat, the fact he only did 36 percent, what does that say about how we're going to see him do in Nevada in particular where, you know, nobody thought he was going to win but the hope among the Biden people was that he would at least get a foothold back into the game and we'll see if that happens, particularly since this should be Biden territory based on what David and John were saying about the union support there.

BLITZER: Right, that's another snapshot as you correctly point out.

Evan McMorris-Santoro is in Sparks, Nevada, outside of Reno.

You're in a different precinct right now, Evan. What are you seeing there?

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, hi, Wolf. The virtue of having a -- many caucus sites in one high school gym is I can walk from one of them when it's done and to another one that's still going one.

And behind me, 62 -- 6108, precinct 6108 has wrapped up its final round of voting, and its award of delegates. Here is another story just like the last precinct we had here where Bernie did very, very well. Seventy-one-point-three percent of the vote for Senator Sanders, 21.3 for Elizabeth Warren, Senator Warren, 5 percent for Mayor Pete, and 2.5 for Joe Biden.

That translates into only viability for Sanders and Senator Warren, with Bernie leaving with 11 delegates and Warren with 4.

So, that's walking over from the senior section of the gym to this junior section of the gym. We see another good precinct for Senator Sanders.

BLITZER: Outside of Reno.

All right. Evan, thanks very much.

David, significant numbers there.

CHALIAN: It -- no doubt. I mean, all the information coming in is telling one story, which is Bernie Sanders seems poised and we'll wait for the actual vote to get reported in the party and we'll watch John -- watch it all get counted on the wall as the vote comes in, but every sign, our caucus, precinct reporters, our entrance polls, is pointing to what the strength of Bernie Sanders is displaying tonight in Nevada.

BASH: And these are two very different parts of the state. They are both somewhat urban, suburban area, urban and then suburban areas. The question is, and that's where most of the population is, right? In Reno and Las Vegas, mostly in Las Vegas. The question is, is there any way that particularly given the split that we've been talking about, at least some of the rural vote will help bring back some of the other non-Bernie Sanders candidates.

KING: And to David's point, you made earlier talking about the entrance polls about Sanders support being sticky, you cannot undervalue how important that is as we move forward. Again, we have one week to South Carolina. We're in this sort of quaint phase of the campaign, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina.

Then we have the blur. Three straight Tuesdays, the first one, Super Tuesday. We have 14 contests, 14 states, plus American Samoa where nobody can compete with Michael Bloomberg's money.

Bernie Sanders is the only one who can be -- can come close right now. He can't come close but he can be competitive spending money, but the idea that you have this army, these committed, sticky supporters, that is money. That is money because you've got your 15, 18, 20 percent baked in.

You use your resources to try to build it. You cannot underestimate, especially if this field stays, five, six, seven, eight candidates, the importance of that sticky supporters I think is going to be the line of the campaign, so far, from Mr. Chalian.

BLITZER: Yes.

KING: He's right. That is incredibly important when resources become such an issue. Look at how much does it cost to advertise in California, Texas? Those are just two of the Super Tuesday states.

[16:20:02]

So, you can move your resources elsewhere if you trust your army. And what Sanders is proving so far in this campaign is that his people, they may have a ceiling but in a crowded race, that is a core group that is performing for him very well.

BLITZER: Hashtag, sticky supporters.

All right. We're going to get stick around. We're getting some more results and there may be a tie at one of these caucus sites. So, we're going to have that and a lot more of our special coverage right after this.

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BLITZER: All right. Let's check back to -- with Miguel Marquez. He's in Las Vegas. We're getting some more results.

What are you learning over there now, Miguel?

[16:25:01]

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We are. So, the entire caucus is done for precinct 1304 and many of the other precincts here at Sierra Vista High School. This is the actual poster.

This, if you are a candidate, this is where you want to be in this column. A yes for Senator Bernie Sanders. A yes for Senator Elizabeth Warren. They both qualified both at 47.9 percent. They were 4.3 that were undecided.

The Buttigieg campaign and the people that were here for Buttigieg, that collapsed. He was at about 13 percent after the first round. The Klobuchar folks did not go over to Buttigieg. The Yang folks did not go over to Buttigieg. They either joined Warren -- her numbers went way up in the second in the second round which was interesting. The other thing that was interesting is that the Klobuchar folks, they

didn't have a captain here. So, they weren't able to advocate on her behalf.

I want to talk to Kathy Class (ph).

Hello, Kathy, how are you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi.

MARQUEZ: You are the captain of this particular precinct. How did it go?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it pretty went well. I mean, we had an enthusiastic group of participants. Everybody was cooperative and we got done pretty quick.

MARQUEZ: That's liked by every one, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.

MARQUEZ: Getting done quickly is always a good thing in these caucuses.

The other ones are already done, the other precincts. So, they're going to be adding all 15 precincts at this particular caucus, and then we'll have a better idea as the night goes on of how Nevada plays out -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We certainly will. All right. Miguel, we'll get back to you as well.

John, you know, what do you think so far? It's very early in the process. We don't have statewide numbers coming in but we're getting bits of indications especially from the entrance polls.

KING: And you're getting some glimpses that the volunteers and local Democrats who are doing this seemed to have learned a lesson from Iowa, knock on wood, that the accounting goes well and the reporting goes well.

But they seem to understand -- they seem to understand, OK, Iowa didn't do so well. Let's make sure. Let's double check and triple check, and they seem to have a good point.

I think the early voting here is going to be a factor as well, as many people early. You had less chaos in these gymnasiums and other sites.

I just so, again, to another point as we go forward, from here, point that Miguel Marquez just made. Amy Klobuchar did not have a precinct captain here. Now, she's a candidate who's trying -- she's trying to slingshot, right?

You know, she's an underdog all the way. She has a strong showing in New Hampshire, and then she's short on money and she's trying to figure out how to make a mark in race that has a former vice president, Bernie Sanders who ran last time, a billionaire in Tom Steyer and another billionaire Michael Bloomberg, how do you sling shot and make yourself relevant to race, where you have to win somewhere, where you have to keep surprising somewhere. But how can you build an infrastructure in a week? It's really hard.

And so, when you see in a place like this, she was not going to win Nevada. But you just hear, she didn't have a precinct captain, is that a symptom -- you know, do they -- do they understand we couldn't get it done in time for Nevada and we're going to get it either in South Carolina or make a mark in two or three states on Super Tuesday, she can't compete everywhere? Or is that a OK, you know, sometimes candidate make a mark, they surprise us but then they fade pretty quickly because it's very hard to come up with the money and the infrastructure to run a presidential campaign as the calendar expands?

BASH: And she did play in Nevada?

KING: Yes.

BASH: I mean, when she had her bump --

KING: And this is one place. I'm sorry to interrupt. I don't want to beat her up. It's only one precinct.

BASH: You're right. You're right.

KING: It's only precinct. So, she might have had people elsewhere but --

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: She might, and there are lots of precincts to be fair. But she -- the money that she got from her really, really good finish in New Hampshire, she spent some of it on ads in Nevada. Yes, she's looking ahead. I mean, she's going to be in March dates to keep going.

But I think that the fact it wasn't just her, it was none of the other candidates in that particular snapshot precinct besides Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren that were viable, that actually tells a different story than what we have been see and talking about all night which is the splintering of the anti or the non-Bernie Sanders vote. But that doesn't mean that's not a very, very real dynamic that's what is going on in Nevada and well as we see the later states.

BLITZER: Yes. So, we're standing by to get some actual results very soon.

David Chalian, you're getting some more information from our exit -- entrance polls.

CHALIAN: That's right, Wolf. We're looking at the issue of health care because voters heading into the Nevada caucuses today told us this was the most important issue, 43 percent of them anyway told us that it mattered most to them, 25 percent said climate change, 18 percent income inequality, only 9 percent foreign policy. Among those health care voters, I want to show you how they split in

their initial preference of candidate as they were heading into the caucuses. It is a Bernie Sanders category, 39 percent of those voters that say health care was most important to their vote, he wins them. Biden, 22 points behind at 17 percent, Buttigieg at 15, Warren at 11, Klobuchar at 9.

[16:30:00]

We also asked about whether people were supportive of a government-run program in favor -- instead of their private insurance. Thirty-four percent told us they were opposed to Medicare-for-All, about a third of the electorate. So, Medicare For All opponents went for Joe Biden at 26 percent and Pete Buttigieg at 25 percent. Klobuchar at 19.

You should start paying attention to this, too, Tom Steyer, who is a new entrant and getting support tonight, unlike in Iowa and New Hampshire, in various categories. Another non-Sanders candidate competing with some of these others.

Of course, Sanders all the way down at 8 percent among these Medicare For All opponents. But take a look at where Sanders is among supporters for Medicare for All. It's a big chunk of the electorate, 63 percent. He wins 51 percent of those voters. Warren is next and not that competitive. She's down at 15 percent. Buttigieg at 10 for his Medicare For All Who Want It option. Biden at 9 percent.

Again, there's Tom Steyer at 7 percent, showing up as one of those non-Sanders candidates trying to compete with Buttigieg, Biden, Klobuchar, Warren. And what you see here among Medicare For All supporters, two-thirds of the electorate. This is Bernie Sanders strength.

BLITZER: It certainly is.

David, stand by.

We're getting more results from Nevada caucus sites throughout the state. We'll share those with you when we come back.

Much more of our special coverage.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:35:28]

BLITZER: Pretty crowded at that site in east Las Vegas, Nevada. The crowds are there. We're about the get some results from there. We'll check in shortly.

In the meantime, I want to go back to Brianna.

Brianna, this is shaping up to be a very, very important night for some of these candidates.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: It certainly is. Let's check in here with our fabulous brain trust on this key evening.

Maria Cardona, what do you think as you're watching this? This numbers are such a good indicator for Bernie Sanders.

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR; They really are. But the first thing I want to say is I'm so glad we're not talk about process after Iowa. I don't want to jinx it. That's all I'll say. It's great to be talking about results.

On the results side, I want the make a comment about Bernie Sanders and Latino voters. I know the entrance polls in 2016 had him beating Hillary on Latino voters. That's actually not the case. In a precinct- by-precinct analyst, she beat him out, not by a huge margin but she beat him, which makes today even more significant for Bernie Sanders.

Because you have to give credit where credit is due. I did not support him in 2016. He has done a phenomenal job of reaching out to Latino voters. It has really shown. And you really have to give him credit for that.

The other point I'll make, is this is another reason that's worked so well for him, 65 percent of the Latino population are Millennials. That's worked really well for him. They came out in 2018. Latino Millennials out-performed. And it looks like they might be doing the same thing this year.

BLITZER: Paul, I wonder how you reflect on what we're seeing this evening. Also, from the point of view from someone who has been in Democratic politics for a long time and knows how moderate and establishment Democrats feel, they are looking at this thinking, all right, this could be -- we could be cruise -- this could be the beginning of the really the beginning for Bernie Sanders. This could be what it's going to end up as.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: He tweeted out a shot at the Republican establishment, the Democrat establishment. Dude, you are the establishment. If he wins, like we think he may, he will be the dominate figure in the Democratic Party.

Here's why. The structure of the race is coming, I think, into focus from these entrance polls. And also from previous performance. Among the very liberals, the separation from first to second is 35 points, Among moderates, from first to fourth is just nine. You have this huge traffic jam in moderate lane. And on the left lane, Bernie has lapped the field. That's his job. I give him credit for that.

Don't tell me you're not the establishment. It's your succeed time running. He's running in a caucus in large - which is way helpful to liberals, right? Because it's a restricted participation. That's because he's been in there influencing the rules. He's been in middle of this, creating this. And it's a good thing. But don't give me this bologna that you're not I mean, --

(CROSSTALK) BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think, as we look at this, I think everyone can say watching this process that caucuses are problematic in general. Let me just say that. They are problematic in general. It's very hard for people to participate in caucuses. You have to get childcare, et cetera, take a full day off to do what you need to do.

So setting that aside, I do think this cluster that we're seeing --

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: It was early voting for four days, which should mention that.

SELLERS: Right.

KEILAR: There was that.

SELLERS: Right, but --

BEGALA: It's not a secret ballot.

KEILAR: Right.

SELLERS: Which is a huge deal.

BEGALA: Which is a huge deal.

SELLERS: But this cluster we're seeing in the middle lane with Pete, Amy and Joe Biden is going to have to sort itself out. I think that if Joe Biden is the only one or if Joe Biden and Pete are the only ones who are viable, we know meaning placing over 15 percent, coming out of Nevada, then people have to do some soul searching.

I'm still asking the question, how much did this debate performance help Elizabeth Warren other than the money that rained down on her and where did she go in. Where do Warren and Klobuchar go?

And if Pete doesn't do well here or qualify, we know that he has trouble with African-American voters. That's the next stop in South Carolina.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-AT-LARGE: I just want to -- I agree with everything Bakari said. But one thing --

(CROSSTALK)

SELLERS: Run that back.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

CILLIZZA: Put that on a loop.

But two things I am fascinated by, the split among moderates. Bakari is right, Biden, 23, Buttigieg at 21, Sanders at 21. I mean, Sanders is thrilled with the number.

(CROSSTALK)

CILLIZZA: But to Paul's point, he is way ahead --

(CROSSTALK)

SELLERS: One out of five. That's one out of five.

CILLIZZA: The only other one -- and this could change, this could change. But I do think 64 percent of people said beating Trump was the most important thing in choosing a candidate. Sanders is ahead among that group, 23-19.

Now, that could be reflected the fact that if he ends up winning by large margin, it makes sense he will win these subgroup questions. But that's --- when we look at electable, we look at the, oh, he won electability, well, that's not going to be Sanders. It seems to me a lot of people don't necessarily draw that same conclusion.

[16:40:15]

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. You have to win contests to become electable. And Bernie has shown he's able to do that.

(CROSSTALK)

KUCINICH: Even though Iowa is a little bit of an asterisk because there was a tire.

CILLIZZA: Yes.

KUCINICH: I want to talk a bit about health care. David Chalian alluded to this a little earlier. But the disconnect between this, the culinary union, the fight with Bernie Sanders last week. And then --

KEILAR: Because they wanted to protect their plans --

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: -- which would be done away with under a Medicare For All system.

KUCINICH: But our reporter, in Nevada, in Las Vegas, he was talking to workers there, people that are in the union but not necessarily leadership. And what they were telling him, is, yes, love my health care plan. It's fantastic. What if my restaurant closes and I don't have health care anymore? Something like Bernie Sanders is talking about, I would be covered.

So that disconnect -- and that's why -- it's not necessarily that if you're in the culinary union, you will vote against Bernie Sanders. Because it's also not the -- a lot of these jobs doesn't necessarily last forever. These folks know that. Health care is the most important thing to people casting a ballot. KEILAR: Yes.

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think when we look at Nevada, what we talk a lot about, it will be the first real introduction of Latino voters. We go to South Carolina, we'll see the first real introduction of African-American votes in this process.

I think if you take a step back and you are looking at that as a whole, it's really the first introduction of blue-collar voters in a very, very big way. Because you're looking at service jobs that really dominate Las Vegas and fairly well-paying service jobs as well. People go there to work.

But at the same time, you're looking at an electorate that is looking at an American dream that, for most of them, is lost. They are looking back at Washington saying to themselves, you have forgotten about me. And you have Bernie Sanders on the other side saying, I'm going to burn down Washington.

And at the same time, to Chris's point -- because you stole my point, Chris

(CROSSTALK)

CILLIZZA: Boom.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

PRESTON: Is that I think one of the most important numbers coming out of this is that more than six in 10 Democrats want somebody who can beat Donald Trump. And right now, they think it's Bernie Sanders. And I think all this talk we have, and there's a lot of truth to it, that people will not back Bernie Sanders if he becomes the nominee.

(CROSSTALK)

SELLERS: You're so correct about that. If Bernie Sanders wins the nomination, give me a Bernie Sanders T-shirt. Like there is --

(CROSSTALK)

PRESTON: Versus Trump.

SELLERS: Yes. There's not a question about that. But there is concern, which we're starting to see, even in South Carolina. Congressman Joe Cunningham actually say that there's concern about, not the top of the ticket, but down ballot. So that is the growing concern.

And if Bernie Sanders wins tonight with 30, 35 percent, that still means that 65 percent of electorate chose somebody else. That moderate lane that we're talking about, he got 20 percent. That's a good 20 percent. It looks good because it's so many people running.

But when it gets down to two or three people, then the numbers change drastically. And so I think --

(CROSSTALK)

SELLERS: We still have 54 more states and territories --

(CROSSTALK)

SELLERS: Fifty-four more.

CARDONA: I think that's right. This is still the beginning of the beginning of the process. We're going into what will be a marathon with Super Tuesday and it will all be a much clearer picture will come out of that.

I think you mentioned this earlier. If the moderates don't get together, then Bernie will return away with it. I think one of the reasons why he's doing that -- and you all mentioned this earlier -- I think what he has been able to do in transforming, redefining himself as being the electable one is one of biggest stories coming out of this.

If this continues on, that is going to be a reason that he's doing to catch fire in all of these other states.

KEILAR: And we're about to --

(CROSSTALK)

CARDONA: -- what comes in, right?

KEILAR: Right.

And we're about to get some results from another caucus site in Las Vegas. We're standing by for the first big batch of votes to come in.

[16:43:57]

We have much more of our special coverage of the Nevada caucuses after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:48:29]

BLITZER: We're standing by to get more results from caucus sites throughout the state of Nevada.

Let's check in with Ed Lavandera. He's in Las Vegas.

Ed, pretty crowded where you are.

Ed, can you hear me?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, I can hear you.

They're about to begin the realignment process at this precinct. We're at the east Las Vegas community center. This is precinct 4605.

We have the numbers from the first round of voting. The only two candidates that are moving on that are viable after the first round are Bernie Sanders with 42 percent of the vote and Elizabeth Warren with 19 percent of the vote. Those are the two candidates moving into the final alignment.

Now, they are about to begin the process of making pitches to those other voters who need to realign.

Now, I want to go down the list here. You have Pete Buttigieg at 14 percent. Joe Biden at 8 percent. Amy Klobuchar had 8 percent. And Tom Steyer had 5 percent.

So now those voters will begin the process of listening to the pitches for supporters for Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, trying to get those voters onto their side. They each get about a minute to make their pitches to these voters.

So far -- and this is one of the largest -- this is the largest precinct at this particular location that we're at. They had a total of 229 voters in this precinct. And 77 of them are the ones that we see right here. And they had 152 that voted early in this precinct.

[16:50:03]

You can really see the influence of the early voting participation in all of this. It would have been 229 people here in this location, Wolf. Instead, we just have just 77.

You see this gentleman here behind me in the blue shirt, he is making the case and trying to get these voters to consider their realignment. That process will begin here shortly. And then we'll have the final vote for this precinct 4605.

BLITZER: We'll see what happens on that front.

Pete Buttigieg clearly within striking distance of being viable, 15 percent. You need that.

David Chalian, you're looking more in-depth at these entrance polls.

CHALIAN: That's right, Wolf. We're taking a look at the age factor. It's been a driving force in this nomination race throughout the last year. We have seen this.

Take a look at the break down of the electorate in the caucuses. You see 17 percent are between the ages of 17 and 29 years old. And 21 percent, 30 to 44. And 35 percent, 45 to 64. And 27 percent are 65 and older.

I want to look at that young portion of the electorate, the 17 percent that are between the ages of -- oh, sorry. We're taking a look at 65 and older. The senior citizen side of the electorate. Biden at 27 percent. He runs ahead of everyone else among these older voters. Klobuchar, 20. Buttigieg, 13. Sanders 13. Again, he's in the game. He doesn't zero out. But it's nothing like his support with young people.

Take a look at the 17 to 29-year-olds. They make up 17 percent of the electorate. Look at this Sanders number, Wolf, 68 percent of them. The oldest guy in the race courts this fervent support from young people.

Pete Buttigieg is at 10 percent of support of these 17 to 29-year- olds. That's a 58-point gap.

Yes, it's only 17 percent of the electorate. We saw younger voters made up a larger share in Iowa. Slightly smaller in New Hampshire than here in Nevada. But this is a huge victory group for Bernie Sanders. And we've seen it all year long. This is part of the fire of his base of support, is the support from young people -- Wolf?

BLITZER: That's very significant, indeed.

Dana, the young people, who are participating in the Nevada caucuses, they like the 78-year-old guy.

BASH: This has become so engrained in what we know about Bernie Sanders that you sometimes forget to stop and mention how remarkable it is.

And 78 years old. Nearly seven in 10 of the voters who are 17 to 29- years-old say that they prefer him. It's really stunning.

The youngest guy out there, who you would think, not knowing anything about Bernie Sanders, his history or the base of support he has, Pete Buttigieg, he doesn't even come close. He's way down at 10 percent with those voters.

KING: Again, familiarity. Sanders is consistent. He's appealed to this base four years ago and now in this last campaign. This is another problem for Mayor Buttigieg. New on the national stage. It's hard to scale up, especially against a big force. Bernie Sanders is a force.

But it's yet another example, if you look at those two groups of numbers, Bernie Sanders with younger voters, he has a lane. He has it all to himself. He dominates it. Among older voters, that was supposed to be Joe Biden's lane. He thought that would be his lane. To be at 27 percent as opposed to 35 percent or 40 percent. That's why Joe Biden is struggling in this race.

One other quick point from where Ed Lavandera was a moment ago, that's the second precinct in a row -- if you go around to our correspondents -- it's not scientific. It's anecdotal. Where you had Sanders and Warren. That's the only ones viable.

This is a test for Elizabeth Warren. She had a strong debate the other night. She has a national organization that did not prove itself in Iowa. Did not prove itself in New Hampshire. The question is, will it prove itself at some point.

Let's watch as this plays out, especially in the caucus with viability. Is she through -- because of viability rules, because of early voting, because of organization, is she going to make a statement that might surprise us? Those are two little clues. I don't make too much of it. But it's interesting.

BASH: On that note, it might be an appropriate moment to take a step back and think about where we have been as we look at where we're going to go. When I say that, I mean, look at where the delegates were coming out of Iowa and New Hampshire.

First, look at Iowa. Pete Buttigieg, remember, it was very delayed. He did better than Bernie Sanders. Although their percentage of delegates are similar.

The point that you said before, John, Elizabeth Warren had a very disappoint finish in Iowa. She only had 18 percent of the vote. And everybody out there had talked about how amazing her ground game was. Same goes for New Hampshire, neighboring state. Elizabeth Warren got only 9 percent of the vote there.

And Amy Klobuchar, who is from the Midwest, and not well known at all in New Hampshire, had the great debate night. She beat out her fellow Senator. And again, it was Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg.

[16:55:10]

So that speaks to, again, if you're looking at Elizabeth Warren here, what we have seen anecdotally in these caucus sites that we have been watching.

Maybe it's not going to get her a whole lot when it comes to delegates. But what she has been trying to do in the debate and in the CNN town hall and everywhere in between, tried to make enough money, to raise enough money to stay many the game to boost this delegate count.

BLITZER: Stick around. There's a lot more. We're waiting for the first statewide results to come from in the Nevada caucuses.

Much more of our coverage after this.

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