Hillary Clinton won the Nevada Democratic caucuses on Saturday, overcoming an unexpectedly strong surge by Bernie Sanders, particularly among Latino voters in the battleground state.
Fox News entrance polls show Sanders won the Hispanic vote at 54 percent to Clinton's 45 percent, even though she had heavily been trying to woo Hispanics in the state since last year. In 2008, Clinton won Nevada's caucus thanks in part to strong Latino support. Clinton won 64% of the Hispanic vote - more than double - Barack Obama's 26%.
The state was the first substantial test of candidates' support with Hispanic voters in this election.
Nearly 1 in 5 voters in Nevada is Hispanic, according to the Pew Research Center, and Latino voters were a prime target for both campaigns.
The Hillary Clinton campaign has been on the ground in Nevada since April, and part of their strategy hasd been reaching out to Latina women – mothers and wives. The Bernie Sanders campaign got started late in Nevada but they rode momentum and enthusiasm from young Latinos, particularly young undocumented immigrants or DREAMers.
Though, they can’t vote. DREAMers have been volunteering for the campaign and encouraging young voters to caucus.
Clinton captured the backing of voters who said electability and experience were important in their vote. But in a continuing sign of her vulnerability, Sanders did best with voters looking for a candidate who is caring and honest.
The contest in Nevada was the first of two presidential primary contests being held Saturday. Republicans were battling in South Carolina, a state seen as billionaire Donald Trump's to lose and one that could start to clarify who, if any, of the more mainstream candidates might emerge to challenge him.
For both parties, the 2016 election has laid bare voters' frustration with Washington and the influence of big money in the political system. The public mood has upended the usual political order, giving Sanders and Trump openings while leaving more traditional candidates scrambling to find their footing.
Clinton's victory in Nevada could be crucial in holding off a challenge from Sanders that has been tougher than almost anyone expected. Clinton and Sanders split the first two voting contests, revealing the Vermont senator's appeal with young people drawn to his impassioned calls for breaking up Wall Street banks and providing free tuition at public colleges and universities.
Clinton thanked her supporters via Twitter on Saturday afternoon.
"To everyone who turned out in every corner of Nevada with determination and heart: This is your win," Clinton said on Twitter.
Republicans were voting in South Carolina, the first Southern state in the 2016 presidential election. Trump spent the week threatening one rival with a lawsuit, accusing former President George W. Bush of lying, and even tangling with Pope Francis on immigration, yet he still entered the primary contest in strong position.
The prospect of a Trump win alarmed rival Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor trying mightily for a strong showing in the first Southern state to vote.
"Trump can't win, plain and simple," Bush told reporters outside a polling place in Greenville. "A ton of people would be very uncomfortable with his divisive language and with his inexperience in so many ways."
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.