70°F
weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Nevada caucuses test candidates with Latino voters

WASHINGTON — The Nevada caucuses pose the first major test for Democratic presidential candidates with Latinos, who make up a third of the state’s population and have become an important voting bloc in the state.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has polled higher than other candidates with Hispanics nationally and received strong support in Iowa and New Hampshire from Latino communities.

But his support also comes from a younger demographic of voters, including Latinos, while former Vice President Joe Biden has support among older Hispanics and minority voters more likely to participate in caucuses and primaries.

“I think Nevada is the state that will tell us what we are going to see on Super Tuesday,” said Colin Strother, a Democratic campaign strategist and consultant not currently working with any presidential campaign.

And despite Sanders’ front-runner status, Strother said, “There are some red flags, some orange cones, obstacles for Bernie.”

Sanders’ record on immigration, a top issue in the minority community, is likely to face scrutiny.

A Senate vote by Sanders on a comprehensive immigration reform became an issue in the Democratic presidential race four years ago.

Sanders and Joe Biden were on opposite sides of a 2007 Senate vote that killed a bipartisan bill supported by Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Opposition to guest worker visas sought by high-technology companies was cited by Sanders as his reason to join Republicans in a 62-34 vote that doomed the bill.

But that legislation also have granted a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Although Sanders doesn’t oppose that, his vote helped kill the bill.

Pushing wages down?

Following the vote, Sanders told the “Lou Dobbs This Week” show on CNN that he opposed “millions of people coming into this country as guest workers who will work for lower wages than American workers and drive wages down even lower than they are now.”

Ali Noorani, executive director with the immigration advocacy group America is Better, said Sanders’ desire to undermine that bill over guest worker visas also scuttled proposals like citizenship, which “took a good solution off the table for millions of immigrants.”

Noorani said a lot of those immigrants are still in the United States with extended families who are citizens “and voting this year.”

Sanders also has called for the breakup of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which Noorani said are “not reasonable policy solutions.”

Sanders has since become aggressive in his outreach to Latinos. He is supported by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., one of the most high-profile Latinas serving in Congress. Another high-profile Latina, Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, told the Review-Journal this month that she does not plan to endorse a candidate before the caucuses.

Having it both ways

Meanwhile, the Sanders campaign defended his 2007 vote as one that bucked a proposal backed by President George W. Bush and favored by large corporations that “exploit immigrant workers.”

Along with national Latino groups and organized labor, “Bernie opposed Bush’s flawed immigration ‘reform’ bill because it lacked badly needed protections for immigrant workers,” said Josh Orton, the Sanders campaign national policy director.

“Bernie has always believed in a family-based immigration system based in human and civil rights,” Orton said.

Noorani said failure to address immigration reform without work visas, only family-based visas, “doesn’t really solve the problem.”

“He’s trying to have it both ways,” Noorani said.

Leading in the polls

So far, Sanders is the favorite among Latino voters nationwide, according to recent polls.

A Morning Consult poll last week showed Sanders with 48 percent support among Hispanics nationally, followed by billionaire Michael Bloomberg, 17 percent, Biden, 13 percent, Pete Buttigieg, 8 percent, and Elizabeth Warren, 7 percent. The poll had a margin of error of plus- or minus-2 percentage points.

Bloomberg is not on the caucus ballot in Nevada.

In a poll released by the Review-Journal on Friday, Sanders had 25 percent support, compared with 18 percent for Biden and 13 percent for Warren. The margin of error was 4.8 percent.

Right now, Sanders is “doing the best job” reaching out to Nevada Latinos, said Domingo Garcia, League of United Latin American Citizens president.

And Biden has called it a “mistake” during the Obama administration when deportations of undocumented immigrants were ramped up to levels higher than under previous Republican and Democratic administrations.

But demographics could give Biden a window to resurrect his campaign with support from older voters more likely to turn out to political caucuses and primaries, including Hispanics.

“I think Biden is running better with older Latino voters and organizations,” Strother said.

Immigration top issue

Among Latinos, immigration ranks as a top issue for the minority community, along with health care, the economy and education, according to Latino Decisions, a national polling and research firm that concentrates on the minority community.

Noorani said immigration plans put out by Biden, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Bloomberg address family- and employer-based immigration needs, but do not call for abolishing federal agencies.

Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren have released few details about immigration proposals, Noorani said.

Warren has enlisted the help of former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who as a presidential candidate was outspoken for immigration reform.

Klobuchar, who performed well in Iowa and New Hampshire, where the populations are 90 percent and 93 percent white, respectively, also will be tested with a more ethnically diverse voting population in Nevada, Strother said. Neither she nor businessman Tom Steyer could name the Mexican president when asked during a forum televised on Telemundo in Las Vegas. Buttigieg was the only candidate of the three to answer correctly: Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Hispanics make up 29 percent of Nevada’s population of more than 3 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2019. Some 19 percent of the state’s population is foreign-born.

Of the state’s Latino population, 79 percent live in Clark County, which includes Las Vegas and suburbs, and 13 percent reside in Washoe County, home to the state’s second-largest city, Reno, according to Mi Familia Vota Nevada, a Latino civic engagement organization.

Nevada Democratic leaders say Latinos will be influential in the outcome of the caucuses.

Strategists like Strother said the results could define the strength of candidates as the race heads next to South Carolina, and then to Super Tuesday, on March 3, when a third of pledged delegates will be decided.

Contact Gary Martin at gmartin@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7390. Follow @garymartindc on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Henderson allows immediate sale of alcohol with curbside pickup - VIDEO
The city of Henderson decided Thursday evening to allow alcohol to be sold by restaurants as part of their curbside pickup service during the COVID-19 crisis. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak signs order banning any gathering of 10 or more people - VIDEO
Gov. Steve Sisolak on Tuesday signed a new order banning any gathering of 10 or more people in Nevada in another step the state has taken to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Takeaways from the president's daily briefing on coronavirus - VIDEO
RJ Washington correspondent Debra Saunders talks about today's daily White House news conference regarding the coronavirus outbreak, Friday, March 20, 2020. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Judicial Department 5 Debate - Video
The Las Vegas Review-Journal hosts a debate between the 3 candidates running for Department 5 in Clark County District Court. Participating are Veronica M. Barisich, Terry A. Coffing and Blair Cowan Parker.
Trump cancels Las Vegas trip because of ‘coronavirus outbreak’ - VIDEO
President Donald Trump canceled planned travel to Las Vegas ‘out of an abundance of caution’ amid virus outbreak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump signs $8.3 billion coronavirus package - VIDEO
President Trump signed a bill providing $8.3 billion in emergency funding to combat the coronavirus outbreaK, Friday, March 6, 2020. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sen. Rosen supports Judge Togliatti - VIDEO
Sen. Jacky Rosen shows her support for Nevada Judge Jennifer Togliatti to be appointed to the federal bench. (Sen. Jacky Rosen)
Sen. Cortez Masto shows support for Judge Togliatti - VIDEO
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto shows her support for senior state District Court Judge Jennifer Togliatti to be appointed to the federal bench in Nevada. (Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto)
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews resigns following series of controversies - VIDEO
The "Hardball" host announced his departure Monday night, March 2, 2020, effective immediately. The anchor recently came under fire for comparing Sen. Bernie Sanders’ victory in the Nevada caucasus to the Nazi conquest of France in 1940. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Candidates file for office in Clark County - VIDEO
Amy Klobuchar drops out of 2020 presidential race - VIDEO
On March 2, campaign officials announced Amy Klobuchar’s decision to suspend her presidential bid. The news comes on the eve of Super Tuesday and just one day after Pete Buttigieg also announced his decision to depart from the race. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Activist shouts warnings at Nevada Democratic chairman's home - VIDEO
A Southern California activist and supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders spent nearly an hour shouting warnings and condemnations of the Democratic Party through a megaphone at the home of Nevada Democratic Party Chairman William McCurdy II on the eve of last week’s presidential caucuses, prompting him to call the police. (Maria Estrada)
The Nevada caucus in photos
Best shots from the Review-Journal photo staff's coverage of the Nevada Caucus, Saturday, February 22, 2020.
Bernie Sanders announces his Nevada caucus win to supporters in Texas
At a rally in San Antonio, Texas, Bernie Sanders announces winning the Nevada Democratic caucus.
Joe Biden addresses supporters in Las Vegas
Joe Biden energizes a crowd of supporters at the IBEW Hall in Las Vegas after the Nevada Democratic caucus.
Tweet highlights from the 2020 Nevada Democratic caucus
Confusion, flaring tempers and misinformed volunteers highlighted Review-Journal tweets during the Nevada Democratic caucus.
Voters comment on Nevada Democratic caucus - VIDEO
Nevada caucusgoers comment on the process from locations across the Las Vegas Valley, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Doolittle Community Center hosts caucuses - VIDEO
The Doolittle Community Center hosted six precincts in one room for the Nevada Democratic caucuses, and voters engaged in debate and discussion about who to lead each precinct, Feb. 22, 2020. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Desert Oasis High School has wait for caucus check-in - VIDEO
James Strange has been waiting in line to caucus for the first time for 45 minutes and some said they have been waiting for an hour at Desert Oasis High School for the Nevada Democratic caucuses. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Conservative guru encourages Republicans to vote in Democratic caucuses - VIDEO
Republican activist Chuck Muth encourages his fellow GOP members to change party affiliation for a day to elect Bernie Sanders. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Nevada Congresswoman Susie Lee at Desert Oasis High School - VIDEO
Rep. Susie Lee, D-Nev., stopped by the Nevada Democratic caucus at Desert Oasis High School in Las Vegas, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caucus day in Summerlin - VIDEO
Out-of-state caucus observer Ken Valz speaks about the Nevada Democratic caucuses at Palo Verde High School, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Doors open for Nevada Democratic caucuses - VIDEO
Caucusgoers are lining up Saturday morning to take part in the Nevada Democratic caucuses across the state (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caucus day at East Last Vegas Community Center - VIDEO
Registration begins at the East Las Vegas Community Center for the Nevada Democratic caucuses, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
It’s caucus day in Nevada - VIDEO
Democrats will gather at over 250 locations across the state to declare their presidential preferences in the Nevada caucuses, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Democratic caucus-goers lined up to register at Liberty High - VIDEO
Democratic caucus-goers lined up to register at Liberty High in Henderson, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Elizabeth Warren holds rally with Julian Castro
Elizabeth Warren held her Get Out the Caucus Block Party with Secretary Julián Castro at the Clark County Government Center Amphitheater.
Trump caps western swing with campaign rally in Las Vegas
President Trump speaks to an enthusiastic crowd of thousands gathered at the Las Vegas Convention Center during a tour across the western United States.
Anti-Trump Protestors at LVCC Rally - Video
President Trump speaks at a Keep America Great rally as a small group of protesters gather outside the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Thousands gather for Trump rally
Thousands showed up for President Donald Trump’s rally Friday morning, forming a line that stretched nearly a quarter mile around the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Trump supporters camp outside the Las Vegas Convention Center
Trump supporters camp outside the Las Vegas Convention Center on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, where President Trump will held a rally on Friday in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
President Trump lands in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Donald Trump landed in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, as part of a four-day western state swing. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Long lines during early voting in Las Vegas - VIDEO
The final day of the Nevada Democratic Party’s early presidential caucuses wrapped up Tuesday, as thousands of Democrats lined up at 55 locations around the state for their last shot at filing an early preference card before the traditional caucuses on Saturday. Long lines were seen at CSN Charleston in Las Vegas. (Alexis Egeland/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Democratic candidates Elizabeth Warren and Tom Steyer talk pay for child care workers - Video
Elizabeth Warren and Tom Steyer talk to care in action about the importance of Medicare for All, paid leave and child care. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Election 2020: Nevada Caucus and Early Voting - Video
AARP's Nevada Caucus discussion with Steve Sebelius about the Nevada Caucus and early voting.
Election 2020: Nevada Caucus - Video
AARP's Nevada Caucus Discussion with Steve Sebelius. Join us as we discuss the Nevada Caucus process.
Las Vegas ready to enforce homeless camping ban - VIDEO
Las Vegas police will begin enforcing a controversial camping ban on city streets on Saturday, but officials say they expect to impose the penalties available under the new ordinance only in rare instances. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Yvanna Cancela Speaks on Supporting Biden - Video
The RJ Politics podcast crew sits down with Nevada State Senator Yvanna Cancela to discuss why she is supporting former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential race.
Tom Steyer on Donald Trump and the economy - Video
Tom Steyer joins the RJ Politics podcast to talk about his campaign presence in Nevada and how he plans to take Trump on when talking about the economy. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas City Council Votes On Homeless Ordinance - Video
The Las Vegas City Council on Wednesday will discuss expanding on a controversial camping and sleeping ban aimed at deterring the homeless from bivouacking on city streets to include hours when public sidewalks are being cleaned.
THE LATEST
Most cities lack coronavirus supplies, survey finds

A survey of the nation’s mayors — including several in Nevada — found 90 percent of cities lack sufficient medical supplies to protect emergency responders and medical workers from contracting the coronavirus.

 
Murren: Task force helping state get supplies

A newly formed public-private partnership will help Nevada “punch above our weight” when it comes to securing supplies needed to combat the spread of the new coronavirus, Jim Murren said Monday.