Local News


PolitiFact: Sanders didn't retroactively win NV

Posted at 1:33 PM, Apr 07, 2016

Hillary Clinton was declared the winner of Nevada’s presidential caucuses back in February, but some supporters of Bernie Sanders are claiming the Vermont senator might have won the state after all.

The pronouncement came after Sanders delegates ended up outnumbering Clinton’s during the hectic Clark County Democratic Convention on April 2, leading manymedia outlets and supporters to declare that Sanders retroactively "won" the state by outmaneuvering Clinton.

So, did Sanders add another state to his column as many have claimed?

The answer is no, and it likely will remain that way.

We’ll tell you why.

Caucus math

Nevada has a total of 43 delegates it sends to the Democratic National Convention in July.

Eight of those are so-called "superdelegates," made up of elected officials like Sen. Harry Reid and other party powerhouses who get to independently decide which candidate to support. (Four currently support Clinton, one supports Sanders and three are neutral so far.)

Of the remaining 35 delegates, 23 are so-called "district-level delegates" who are allocated based on February caucus results in each of the state’s four congressional districts. Clinton won 13 of those, while Sanders won 10.

The remaining 12 are delved out during the state party convention in May.

Of that 12, there are five pledged "party leader and elected official" delegates and seven "at-large" delegates awarded proportionally, so whichever campaign has a majority of supporters at the state convention will win the odd-numbered delegate from those groups.

Ideally, the process is supposed to look something like a Matryoshka doll — smaller amounts of delegates at each step of the process, but retaining the same proportions of the initial February caucus. Initial estimates from February had Clinton winning 20 delegates and Sanders taking 15.

But that didn’t happen at the Clark County (Las Vegas) convention in early April, as the Sanders campaign had 2,964 delegates show up compared to 2,386 for Clinton.

In February, Clinton won a total of 4,889 delegates in Clark County but less than half of those showed up for the county convention.

Accusations flew from both campaigns about questionable practices before, during and after the county convention, with the Sanders campaign claiming party officials tried to "depose a neutral official," and Clinton surrogates like Nevada state director Michelle White upset with a "number of irregularities" in the convention process.

Leaving those accusations aside for the moment, the practical outcome is that Sanders now has a larger number of delegates (2,124) attending the state convention in May than Clinton (1,722).

That means they’ll be in a position to pick off a few of those remaining 12 convention delegates.

Based on the numbers, it’s likely that Sanders will be able to flip delegates and go from a projected 20-15 deficit to a more narrow 18-17 delegate split. (This count doesn’t factor in the superdelegates, who are also tilted toward Clinton.)

For Sanders, that’s not "winning" Nevada.

Longtime Nevada political journalist Jon Ralston and the Associated Press reported in the immediate aftermath of the county convention that the likely final result remains a Clinton victory.

"Clinton’s widely expected to keep her Nevada win except in the unlikely event of a Sanders blowout at the state level or if Clinton-backing superdelegates defect to the Sanders camp," the AP reported.

Our ruling

Several reports claimed that Bernie Sanders retroactively won Nevada’s presidential caucuses, based on higher-than-expected turnout at a major county convention.

Sanders likely swung two delegates his way after the county convention, but we won’t know for sure until the state convention selects the delegates in May. Either way, Clinton still holds a narrow delegate lead, projections show. That lead is larger if you include the support of Nevada’s so-called "super-delegates."

We rate this claim False.