Sanders takes lead in early Nevada results

Bernie Sanders looks set to cement his status as the Democratic front-runner to take on Donald Trump in November’s US presidential election.

Early results show Mr Sanders leading in Nevada’s caucuses, and suggest he is on course for a large win.

There is a long way to go, however, until a nominee is confirmed.

Early results also suggest former vice-president Joe Biden has performed better in Nevada than in the other two states which have voted so far.

He had underwhelming results in Iowa and New Hampshire. Those states kicked off the four-month long primaries process, in which candidates are jostling to convince voters why they are the best candidate to challenge Mr Trump.

What’s the latest from Nevada?

With 3.8% of the ballots counted in Nevada, Mr Sanders, the senator for Vermont, has 54% of the vote, ahead of Mr Biden on 17%. The field is then split between a number of other moderates, including Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg, who trail further behind.

Candidates who have won more than 15% of the vote will be awarded delegates, who will then go to the party’s convention in July to support their Democratic candidate.

Ahead of the Nevada vote, Mr Sanders had 21 delegates, and while it is a long way off the 1,990 needed to become the nominee, victory would bring him another small step towards that total.

The last caucuses in Iowa were plagued by technical glitches that meant results struggled to be recorded using a new app. While that app is not being used in Nevada, there are reports of volunteers struggling to connect to a telephone number used to record results. Organisers say results should start flowing soon.

Speaking in Texas on Saturday evening, Mr Sanders did not declare victory in Nevada but again attacked Mr Trump, calling him “a pathological liar running a corrupt administration” and “a religious bigot”.

How has Bernie Sanders done so well?

Mr Sanders appears to have performed strongly thanks to a few factors.

Polling agency Edison Research reported that 54% of Hispanics had decided to vote for him before the caucuses. In a state of more than three million people where Hispanics make up almost a third of the population, this looks to have made a big difference.

And despite some concern from union members about Mr Sanders’s plan to shake up their delicately negotiated healthcare plans, 36% of union members backed him. One in four Nevada residents is in a union, or has a relative in a union.

What happens next?

All eyes turn to South Carolina’s primary next Saturday. It will be the biggest of the three states which have voted so far – and the one with the largest percentage of African-American voters.

This should favour Mr Biden, who is popular among African Americans, but Mr Sanders is also expected to do well, and polls suggest that billionaire hedge-fund manager Tom Steyer could claim his first delegates there.

A few days later, on 3 March, is Super Tuesday, when 14 states vote. They include California and Texas, the two states with the most delegates. By the end of Super Tuesday, it may be much clearer who the Democratic candidate will be.

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