Hillary Clinton built her victory over Sen. Bernie Sanders in Nevada on the strength of her support among women and minorities, the voting blocs that her campaign confidently predicts will carry her toward the Democratic nomination in the next several rounds of primaries.
To compound Clinton’s margin, women made up well over half the turnout, the entrance poll found.
Clinton also established a big edge among nonwhite voters, while the two candidates closely split whites. Sanders won among younger whites, Clinton among their elders.
Clinton’s double-digit lead among minority voters stemmed from a huge edge, better than 3 to 1, among African American voters. Her black support will play a critical role in the campaign’s next contest, the South Carolina primary on Saturday, as well as in the large number of Southern and Midwestern states that vote in the first half of March.
Sanders may have beaten Clinton among Latinos in Nevada — the preliminary entrance poll figures show that he did — but that remains somewhat unclear. The poll’s margin of error is larger with small groups, and Latinos made up about 1 in 5 voters in the caucuses. Moreover, other uncertainties that come with any entrance poll add additional questions to the detailed demographic data.
Hillary Clinton speaks at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas after winning Nevada’s Democratic caucuses Saturday.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
The crowd shows its support during Bernie Sanders’ speech conceding defeat in the Nevada Democratic caucuses to Hillary Clinton at the Henderson Pavilion in Henderson, Nev.(Ethan Miller / Getty Images)
Hillary Clinton speaks at a victory rally at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas after the Democratic caucuses Saturday.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) gives a concession speech at the Henderson Pavilion in Henderson, Nev., after Saturday’s Democratic caucuses.(Ethan Miller / Getty Images)
Former President Bill Clinton hugs his wife, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, at a victory rally at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas after Saturday’s Democratic caucuses.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks to supporters in Henderson, Nev., after losing the Nevada Democratic caucuses on Saturday.(Ethan Miller / Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders gets a hug from a supporter at a Nevada caucus watch party in Henderson, Nev., on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016.(Jae C. Hong / AP)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton greets supporters during a caucus day event at Caesers Palace on Feb. 20, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)
Voters line up to participate in Nevada’s Democratic caucuses at the University of Nevada in Reno on Feb. 20, 2016.(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)
Bernie Sanders supporter Liliana Aguirre sings the praises of her candidate while waiting in a long line to caucus at Rancho High School in Las Vegas on Feb. 20, 2016.(Mike Nelson / EPA)
Jim Eads waits in line to caucus at Rancho High School in Las Vegas on Feb. 20, 2016.(Mike Nelson / EPA)
Supporters rally in Las Vegas on Feb. 19 for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Sen. Bernie Sanders pauses for photos with employees as he and his wife Jane, right, visit the MGM Grand hotel and casino in Las Vegas on Feb. 20, 2016, as the presidential caucuses got underway.(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders gets a hug from a worker at MGM Grand hotel and casino on Feb. 20, 2016, in Las Vegas.(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)
Chelsea Clinton went door to door with volunteers in Las Vegas on Feb. 19, 2016, asking voters to support her mother, Hillary Clinton, in Saturday’s Democratic caucuses.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Beyond gender and ethnicity, the other big division in the Nevada vote pitted experience and electability against empathy and trust. That tension has defined the Democratic race throughout the campaign, and it continued Saturday.
About 1 in 4 Democratic caucusgoers said the most important factor in choosing a nominee was someone with the “right experience” to be president. That group voted by nearly 10 to 1 for Clinton, according to entrance polls. Another 1 in 5 said their top priority was a candidate who can win in November. Clinton overwhelmingly won that group, too.
Sanders won heavily among the roughly one-quarter of voters who said the most important thing was a nominee who cares about people like them. And he racked up a huge margin among the quarter of voters who said the biggest thing was a candidate who is “honest and trustworthy.”
As in New Hampshire and Iowa, the first two contests in the race, voters who turned out in Nevada leaned further to the left than Democrats have in the past.
About 7 in 10 caucus voters called themselves liberal. In 2008, the last time the state had contested Democratic caucuses, about 45% of voters chose that label.
About half of Nevada caucusgoers said they want to continue President Obama’s policies, and Clinton won that group handily.
But about 4 in 10 voters said they wanted the country to move to a more liberal path than Obama’s. Sanders won by better than 3 to 1 among them.
How closely to stick to Obama’s policies has been a point of contention in the Democratic debates, with Clinton tying herself firmly to Obama and Sanders offering some criticisms of the president.
That issue almost certainly will be prominent in the South Carolina primary, where black voters, who overwhelmingly back Obama, make up a majority of the likely electorate.