Clinton campaign challenges Sanders' claim that he won Nevada Latino vote

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Hillary Clinton may decidedly have won the Nevada Caucus, but who won the state’s Latino vote is still in question.

Shortly after losing the Silver State’s caucus, Bernie Sander’s campaign sent out a press release trumpeting his win with Latino voters. Entrance polls showed the Vermont senator winning the Latino vote, 53 percent to 45 percent.

Using the data collected by Edison Research for the Associated Press and the major television networks, the Vermont lawmaker said the results showed he is making major inroads among minority groups traditionally seen as part of Clinton’s base.

“What we learned today is that Hillary Clinton’s firewall with Latino voters is a myth,” said Arturo Carmona, deputy political director for the Sanders campaign, according to the Los Angeles Times.

A Clinton campaign report by Latino Decisions, however, said the results didn’t add up and the former secretary of state balked at Sanders’ claim of winning the Latino vote.

“We don't believe that the so-called entry polls were particularly accurate," Clinton said. "Look at the precincts…Look at where we dominated."

The Latino Decisions data shows that Clinton won the majority of the 40 precincts in Nevada that have more than 50 percent Latino registrants and in precincts 4560 and 4559, both in the crucial Clark County and over 80 percent Latino, Clinton won seven and twelve delegates to Sanders’ one and four.

Clinton also won all the caucuses held in the casinos, which brought in the predominantly Latino workers on break from their jobs.

The battle over the who the Latino vote in Nevada is critical as the campaign season marches on, with Sanders trying prove that his campaign has more support than just white, liberal voters and Clinton hoping to keep a broad coalition of minority voters at her side as voting turns to states like Texas, Colorado, Arizona and Florida.

Despite citing progress with Latinos in Nevada, Sanders’ advisers are clear-eyed about the challenges on Super Tuesday. They are mapping out plans to stay close to Clinton in the delegate count until the race turns to friendlier territory later in March.

"Because we can do the long game, once we get past March 1, the calendar changes dramatically," said Jeff Weaver, Sanders' campaign manager. "It's frontloaded for her, but we have the ability to stay in the long game."

More than half the 2,383 delegates needed to win the Democratic nomination will be determined in the 28 states that hold primaries and caucuses in March.

Clinton and Sanders should have enough money to stay in the race for weeks afterward, but the delegate tally at the end of the month could make the results inevitable.

For Sanders, strong showings in March are more important because of Clinton's lead with superdelegates — the party leaders who can support any candidates regardless of how their states vote.

Clinton has captured the support of 451 superdelegates compared with Sanders' 19.

While Sanders was campaigning in South Carolina on Sunday, he planned to be in Massachusetts for a college rally and campaign in Norfolk, Virginia, on Tuesday.

Clinton also was spending time in Super Tuesday states. She flew from Nevada on Saturday to Texas, a huge delegate prize, for a late-night rally in Houston. She planned to raise money in California and then campaign in South Carolina.

Beyond Super Tuesday, Clinton and Sanders are looking ahead to the March 15 contests in Florida, Illinois, Missouri and Ohio. Big wins in those states for either candidate would put the nomination within sight.

Clinton's support among black voters could pay dividends because of the way Democrats award high-performing congressional districts with a greater share of delegates.

Many of the most delegate-rich states have large minority populations, including Texas, Georgia, Alabama, Illinois and Florida, giving Clinton an inside track to accumulate delegates in March.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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