For months, the Sanders campaign has boasted that it was the first to organize and advertise in largely Latino neighborhoods, not just in Las Vegas, but in Des Moines and east Los Angeles. The campaign advertised in Spanish from its inception, focusing not just on voters who had showed up to previous caucuses, but those who voted in presidential elections.
Many people who showed up at the caucuses to support Mr. Sanders, said his campaign was the only one they ever heard from. Latino political activists — including those backing other candidates — routinely applaud the Sanders campaign for doing the kind of expensive, labor intensive outreach they have been trying to convince other candidates to do for years. More than anyone else in the presidential race, Mr. Sanders is showing the power of Latino voters galvanized behind a single candidate.
Mr. Sanders’s appeal seems particularly strong in the West, where his ability to harness not just Latinos, but also liberal black and Asian-American voters could portend a strong showing in California, which will award more delegates than the four early voting states combined.
The Sanders team has long said that California, where early voting is already underway, is a cornerstone of its campaign. It has invested roughly $6.5 million in advertising there so far, including more than $1 million for Spanish language advertising. A poll from the Public Policy Institute of California released last week showed Mr. Sanders with 30 percent of the vote, and Mr. Biden in second, trailing by nearly 20 percentage points.
The support for Mr. Sanders in Nevada was particularly remarkable given the intense fight with the Culinary Union, which represents 60,000 housekeepers, bartenders, cooks and others who work in casinos here. Leadership for the union, whose membership is more than 50 percent Latino, declined to back any one candidate, but spent the weeks leading up to the caucus criticizing Mr. Sanders’s Medicare for All plan, because it would effectively eliminate the union’s prized private health insurance.
But in interviews in recent days, many rank-and-file union members said they supported Mr. Sanders precisely because of his health care proposal, saying they wanted their friends and relatives to have the same kind of access to care that they have.
On Saturday, Mr. Sanders won at five of the seven caucus sites on the Strip, losing one to Mr. Biden and tying with him at another site — a clear sign that the messages from union leadership had largely been ignored.