Nevada Caucus and South Carolina Primary: What you need to know

Democratic U.S. presidential candidates Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. © Jim Young
Saturday brings the Democratic Party’s Nevada caucus, while the Republican Party is holding a primary 2,600 miles away in South Carolina. We’re breaking down what Saturday’s events mean for the presidential candidates and what you can expect to happen.

The basics

The Democrats: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will go head-to-head on the Nevada caucus. Nevada is the first state in the West to host a caucus in the 2016 presidential race.

The Republicans: Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Bush, Kasich, and Carson will face-off in the South Carolina primary.

Then, next week the parties swap states, with the Republicans in Nevada Tuesday, and the Democrats in South Carolina Saturday.


Nevada is one tough state to predict.

Polls in the state suggest similar support levels for Clinton and Sanders, as Bloomberg points out, making this caucus very hard to call.

Adding to the prediction issues is voter turnout. Nevada only introduced caucuses in 2006, and the state has a high rate of migration in and out, making voter turnout difficult to gauge.

The state has a high percentage of Latino voters (who Clinton has been targeting in a recent ad campaign) and students (who are supposedly supporting Sanders).

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Fun fact: Hillary won the Nevada caucus in 2008.

Another Fun Fact: This is Vegas, baby. If there is another Iowa caucus-style draw, the winner will not be chosen with a coin toss, but rather appropriately with a card draw (highest card wins, spades trump diamonds, FYI).

South Carolina, on the other hand, seems a much more straightforward affair.

Despite Trump’s recent quarrel with Pope Francis and an 11-point drop in his lead, according to a poll from NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist Friday, ‘The Donald’ is almost certainly going to win Saturday’s primary in the conservative state.


The Nevada caucus begins at 11am PST and first results should be in by 1 to 2pm PST.

Polls will open for the South Carolina primary from 7am to 7pm EST. If Trump emerges as the clear winner, the result could be declared as early as 8pm EST. But if ‘Popegate’ has indeed bruised the candidate, the result could take until around 10pm EST.