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Sanders Declares Nevada a Victory, Despite Losing to Clinton

The senator had an optimistic message for supporters Saturday after a narrow loss in the Silver State.
Photo by Jae C. Hong/AP

A smiling Bernie Sanders put a positive spin on a narrow loss in Nevada on Saturday, declaring that the results of the caucuses showed that the campaign had momentum and had an "excellent chance" to win many of the 12 states holding primary contests on Super Tuesday.

"We have come a very long way in nine months," Sanders told supporters at the Henderson Pavilion outside Las Vegas. "It is clear to me, and most observers, that the wind is at our backs."


"We have the momentum and I believe that when Democrats assemble in Philadelphia in July at that convention, we are going to see the results of one of the great political upsets in the history of the United States," he added.

Shortly before Sanders took the stage, Hillary Clinton made her victory speech at Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas strip, where an at-large precinct caucus had been held for casino and other shift workers earlier in the day. At that caucus, Clinton won 28 delegates while Sanders got 12. Across the state, Clinton's victory was not as clear-cut.

As results from the precinct caucuses trickled in slowly on the Nevada Democratic Party website, Sanders and Clinton remained neck-and-neck, with Sanders even slightly ahead early in the game. But at around 5:15pm ET, the AP called a win for Clinton. Results are still rolling in, but with 84 percent of precincts reporting, Clinton is leading Sanders 52-48.

Related: Live Blog: On the Ground at the Nevada Caucuses and South Carolina Primary

After the AP called Clinton's victory, the Sanders campaign sent an email to supporters saying it anticipated that the candidates would "leave another state with roughly the same number of delegates." The same scenario occurred in Iowa, where Sanders won 696.92 delegate equivalents and Clinton received 700.47.

"I want to be completely clear with you about what this result means: Nevada was supposed to be a state 'tailor made' for the Clinton campaign, and a place she once led by almost 40 points," the campaign wrote in the email. "But today, we sent a message that will stun the political and financial establishment of this country: our campaign can win anywhere."


Sanders echoed those sentiments again at his speech Saturday afternoon, saying that when the campaign first set out in Nevada "we were way behind," but that his surge of support, bolstered by more than 4 million unique campaign contributions, has carried him to this point.

"What this entire campaign has been about is the issue of momentum [and] the issue of bringing more and more people into the political process," Sanders said. "I believe on Super Tuesday we have an excellent chance to win many [states]."

The senator in his speech failed to mention South Carolina, where Clinton is currently leading by as much as 29 points, according to recent polls.

Supporters at the event said they were not disappointed by the results, and were looking forward to future contests.

"He was behind by a lot in the beginning but he worked his way up," said Joseph Johnson, a San Bernardino resident who drove to Nevada to rally for Sanders. "His basic message today was don't give up. Keep pushing and we'll pull through. I have a good feeling about it."